Game Day: Blazers at Americans

January 21, 2012 

It’s Western Conference showdown tonight at Toyota Center.

Kamloops, which moved to the top of the WHL standings Friday after the Americans lost to Spokane, is making its second and final trip to Kennewick this season. The Blazers lead the Americans by one point in the standings. Should be a good one.

The teams split their first two games, with each winning at home.

Speaking of home, the Americans saw their 13-game home winning streak come to an end Friday. They also had a 13-game win streak at one point, but that too, came to and end. Time for a new start.

Thirteen games pales in comparison to the 14-year win streak of the Trinity College (New Haven, Conn.) men’s squash team — which had won 252 consecutive matches — that came to and end Thursday.

Connor Rankin returned to the ice last night against Spokane after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. I know the guy is in shape because I saw him skate more lines than a sheet of graph paper — in just one practice. He had a few weeks of that torture, but at least the team won’t have to drag him up and down the ice in their fast-paced offense.

Keeping in shape and staying sharp was a concern for some of the area high school basketball and wrestling coaches when their games were postponed this week because the the weather.

I have no pity. Hop on a WHL team bus and you will appreciate the “cramped” schedule and lack of practice. And, if your team isn’t in shape by now, whose fault is that.

The Americans went on a four-game road trip over six days, traveling more than 1,600 miles between Kennewick, Kamloops, Vancouver, Spokane and Portland, and back to Kennewick. Play a hockey game in Kamloops, get on the bus and drive to Vancouver. A day off between games. Play in Vancouver, get on the bus and drive to Spokane. Arrive at 7 a.m. and play a game at 7 p.m. Get the picture? These too, are high school kids. On to tonight.

Ty Rimmer is in goal for Tri-City, while Sam Grist, Lucas Nickles, Lukas Walter and Marcus Messier are scratched.

For Kamloops, Cole Cheveldave is in goal. Brady Gaudet, Ryan Hanes, Jordan DePape and Brandon Herrod are scratched.

At the door, fans were treated to a pack of trading cards. In there you will find Malte Strömwall, Ty Rimmer, Adam Hughesman and Mitch Topping.

On Jan. 31, fans can go to U.S. Cellular in Pasco to meet the Red Deer trio of Justin Feser, Mitch Topping and Derek Ryckman. Photos with the players will be available.

Speaking of photos, U.S. Cellular is here tonight offering free fan photos. They will take your pictures and print it out with an Americans border. Nice little treat for the fans.

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A few items from around the league:

Regina Pats coach Pat Conacher was fined $500 by the WHL for comments he made made about the officials after a 3-2 OT loss to visiting Kootenay on Wednesday.

There are times the refs need to be called out. In the 10 years I’ve been covering the league, I think this is one of the poorest seasons for the officials.

Also, Moose Jaw defenseman Dylan McIlrath was hit with an eight-game suspension by the league Friday, after a check to the head of Victoria Royals D Jesse Zgraggen on Wednesday.

Puck drops in 5.

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The Blazers are for real.

Kamloops jumped out to a 2-1 lead after one period after Justin Feser opend the game with a goal for Tri-City.

Not so sure what game referees Matt Kirk and Ryan Benbow are watching tonight, but it's not this one.

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Wow. Kamloops takes a 3-1 lead and seems to be in control, but late in the second goals by Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman tie the game at 3.

Let's see what the third period has to offer. There is a lot at stake.

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What a game.

No scoring in the third or in overtime, sending the game to a shootout, where the Blazers won 2-0.

Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland didn't even gets shots off on their opportunities.

The Blazers ended a five-game losing streak at Toyota Center, while the Ams lost their second in a row at home.

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