Ams move into 2nd with win over Chiefs

By Annie Fowler, Herald staff writer February 5, 2011 

KENNEWICK -- You gotta love the Tri-City-Spokane rivalry.

The action was fast and furious from the start, but in the end the Chiefs couldn't overcome a three-goal second period by the Americans, who skated away with a 5-2 victory Friday night before a full house of 5,807 fans at Toyota Center.

"I said to the guys I thought that may have been our best game," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team has won four in a row. "Without the puck defensively, it was our best game against a real good team."

With the win, the Americans (33-13-2-1, 69 points) move into second place in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of the Chiefs (31-14-4-2, 68 points) and four points behind division leader Portland.

"It's nice to be in second," said Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin, who had two goals. "We don't focus on the standings; we focus on our game and let the rest fall into place. We have a big game in Portland (today). It's one more step to take over the division."

After a tight-checking first period, the Americans broke a 1-all tie early in the second, shut down the Chiefs' vaunted power play and rolled from there.

Paul Sohor, who did not score a goal in two-plus seasons with Everett, scored his third of the season at 2:49, blasting the puck from the left point, rattling it off the pipes and into the net.

"My mom's (Sharon) birthday was last week, and she asked me for a couple of points," said Sohor, who added an assist and a fight for his first WHL Gordie Howe hat trick. "I think she'll be happy."

Just 20 seconds after Sohor's goal, Shinnimin scored his first of the night, getting a little help from Carter Ashton, who lofted the puck over Spokane goalie Mac Engel's stick and Shinnimin knocked it into the net out of mid-air.

"Hughey (Adam Hughesman) made the play on the wall and sent it up to Ashton," Hiller said. "That encapsulates the type of season he's having."

Shinnimin struck again at 9:41 on the power play to give the Americans a 4-1 lead.

"It's good to get a couple of goals," said Shinnimin, who ran his point streak to 21 games -- the best in the WHL this season. "Ashton and Hughey did a good job of getting me the puck. That was a huge goal by Sohor. That took it out of them a bit, and when you get this crowd into the game, they can almost win it for you."

Jared Cowen scored a short-handed goal at 16:14 of the third for Spokane, and the Chiefs pulled Engel with 1:42 in the game the game for an extra attacker.

But the only goal scored was an empty-netter by Patrick Holland for the final margin.

"I thought we had good momentum in the first, then we had all those penalties that changed the momentum of the game," said Spokane coach Don Nachbaur. "It took a toll on us mentally and physically. When the game was on the line we didn't have any power plays come our way. One goal would have put us back in the game. We made mistakes and they capitalized. They are a good team."

The Chiefs won the opening faceoff and controlled the puck until Blake Gal broke free for an unassisted goal, blasting the puck from the blue line past Drew Owsley just 55 seconds into the contest. Owsley would finish with 28 saves.

The Americans buckled down, and after failing to capitalize on two power plays, Hughesman tied the score at 11:36, beating Engel up high for his 35th goal of the season.

* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; afowler@tricityherald.com

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