Chiefs deny Ams in home finale

By Annie Fowler, Herald staff writerMarch 14, 2010 

On a night when they could have helped themselves to the U.S. Division title, the Tri-City Americans now will need a little help from the rival Spokane Chiefs to make it happen.

James Reid stopped 37 of 41 shots and Spokane took advantage of a 5-minute power play in the third period to hand the Americans a 5-4 loss Saturday night before a sold-out crowd of 6,053 at Toyota Center.

"We came out flat, couldn't capitalize on our power plays and couldn't win a face-off," said Tri-City captain Jarrett Toll. "If we could have played the whole game like the last 10 minutes, we would have won. Now, our biggest enemy becomes out best friend. Hopefully they come out on top of Everett."

The Americans (47-22-1-2, 97 points) need the Chiefs to beat Everett (46-20-3-2, 97 points) tonight to win their third straight division title and the Western Conference title. If the Silvertips should win, they would capture the division and conference titles and Tri-City would be third in the conference when it comes to playoff seeding.

With the win, Spokane (44-22-3-2, 93 points) earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, where they will play Portland.

"It was a high-intensity game and both teams had something to play for," said Spokane coach Hardy Sauter. "We got the point we needed. (Today) is our last game. We will play hard and hopefully we come out sharp and get the win and have momentum going into the playoffs."

Trailing 3-1 entering the third, the Americans pulled within 3-2 on a goal by Kruise Reddick. Eric Mestery went down in a heap along the wall, but managed to get the puck to Reddick, who blasted it from the right point. The puck hit the cross bar and fell into the goal at 1:53.

Looking to tie things up four minutes later, Sergei Drozd poked the puck past Reid, but after video review, the goal the disallowed.

The Chiefs got a five-minute power play at 7:17 after Tyler Schmidt ran into Spokane's Kyle Beach at center ice. Schmidt got a clipping major and a game misconduct. Beach was helped from the ice. He has a right leg injury and was on crutches after the game.

The Chiefs took advantage of the lengthy man advantage. Anthony Bardaro gave Spokane a 4-2 lead at 8:52, and Kenton Miller made it 5-2 at 10:38.

The Americans got a pair of power plays down the stretch as Jared Cowen went to the penalty box for roughing and Brett Bartman joined him 19 seconds later for cross-checking.

Tri-City pulled goaltender Alex Pechurskiy for a 6-on-3, and Neal Prokop chipped away at Spokane's lead as he redirected a shot by Adam Hughesman at 17:43.

Working on a 6-on-4, the Americans struck again 13 seconds later as Hughesman found the net and pulled Tri-City within 5-4.

With time running out, Tri-City was unable to even the score.

"We had our chance to win the game tonight and we didn't," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team lost the season series to the Chiefs 8-4. "It's just disappointing right now."

The Chiefs carried a 1-0 lead into the second period, and quickly stretched that lead to 2-0 as Mitch Wahl gathered a rebound to the right of Pechurskiy and put it in the net behind the Tri-City goaltender.

The Americans cut the Chiefs' lead in half at 5:40 as Justin Feser picked up a loose puck that came off the wall from Patrick Holland and buried it for his 36th goal of the season.

Spokane went back out front by two goal at 9:35 as Corbin Baldwin flung a puck from the blue line at the right point and found daylight in the upper left corner of the net, surprising Pechurskiy.

Spokane got off to a quick start as Levko Koper won a face-off against Drozd and the puck went to Tyler Johnson, who beat Pechurskiy over his right shoulder just 56 seconds into the game.

The rough and tumble first period saw four Spokane penalties, but the Americans were unable to take advantage, managing just one shot on goal over their first two power plays.

"I thought we really showed our nerves in the first period," Hiller said. "Our power play as been there all year for us and we couldn't keep (the puck) on our sticks."

NOTES: The Calgary Hitmen (51-17-1-2, 105 points) won the Central Division, and hold a 14-point lead over second-place Kootenay with one game to play. The Hitmen also won the Scotty Munro trophy for the best regular-season record. ... The Brandon Wheat Kings, host of this year' Memorial Cup, won the East Division title with 104 points, just edging Saskatoon (99 points). ... The Vancouver Giants (41-25-2-3, 87 points) won the B.C. Division long ago, and finished 11 points ahead of second-place Kelowna. ... The Prince George Cougars welcomed back Brett Connolly -- last year's WHL rookie of the year -- on March 9. In the four games since his return, he had three goals and three assists. Limited to 16 games this season because of a hip injury, he still managed 10 goals and nine assists. ... Regina Pats' Jordan Weal is the first 17-year-old player in more than a decade to score more than 100 points in a season. In 71 games, he had 102 points (35 goals, 67 assists).

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service