Ams' trip to Canadian prairies starts strong

By Annie Fowler, Tri-City HeraldOctober 16, 2012 

The Tri-City Americans made a stop at Tim Horton's for coffee and pastries Monday afternoon in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, before heading north to Saskatoon, where they will make camp the next three days.

"Tim Hortons is about $350 richer," Americans coach Jim Hiller joked on the phone.

The stop was a well-deserved treat for the Americans, who are 2-0 on their six-game trek through the East Division. Over their last six games, they are 5-0-0-1, including three consecutive wins on the road.

Tri-City topped the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-3 on Saturday, then faced off against former teammate Jordan Messier and the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday, coming away with a 5-0 win.

Today, the Americans (6-3-0-1, 13 points) face East Division-leading Prince Albert (7-2-0-1, 15 points), and Wednesday they will take on the Saskatoon Blades (4-7-0-0, 8 points), who are at the other end of the division standings but have won two in a row.

"This is new for a lot of them," Hiller said of the Eastern swing. "For the young ones, they were able to rely on great leadership the first two nights. Against Brandon, they didn't have a lot of chances early, but in the third they were all over us."

Against Moose Jaw, goalie Eric Comrie had 24 saves in picking up the shutout. The win gave Tri-City its seventh consecutive win over the Warriors, and the Americans have won five in a row in Moose Jaw. It was the first home loss in regulation for the Warriors since Nov. 23, 2011 -- a span of 26 games.

"Eric had three or four big-time saves that could have turned the game the other way," Hiller said. "We just didn't give them a lot, and Eric controlled his rebounds. Eric had a great experience last year. He is comfortable out there and not overwhelmed. He is well-prepared and thorough."

The shutout was the second of the season for Comrie and the fifth in his short career. He is tied for fifth on the shutout list with Ty Rimmer (2011-12) and Lance Leslie (1991-94).

The road trip has brought out some firsts for the Americans. Lukas Walter scored his first career goal against Brandon, and Clint Filbrandt tallied his first goal against Moose Jaw in just his second career game.

"First goals are always a great moment," Hiller said. "Everyone knows that feeling. Lukas' was a game-winner and Clint's was an insurance goal. We need more people to score this year. We don't have those guys with 50 goals coming back."

Tonight, the Americans face a Prince Albert team that is averaging 3.6 goals a game, but the Raiders also have allowed 33 goals in 10 games and have lost two in a row -- 5-2 to Portland and 9-0 to Moose Jaw.

"They have a really good group of forwards," Hiller said. "Probably the most dangerous we'll see out here."

The game in Saskatoon brings Tri-City forward Jesse Mychan home. Mychan, who missed four games with a deep thigh bruise, played the last two games, notching three assists against Brandon.

"It's hard to quantify what he brings to the team," Hiller said of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Mychan. "Whenever you have a guy like him in your lineup, everyone on both sides is aware."

Notes: The Americans signed prospect Rodney Southham, 16, to a standard WHL player's contract. Southam, a 5-11, 167-pound center from Saskatoon, is second in scoring in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, with five goals and 10 points in his first five games with the defending SMAAAHL champion Saskatoon Contacts. ... Kamloops's JC Lipon was named WHL Player of the Week after scoring six goals with four assists in helping the Blazers to a 3-0-0-0 record. ... The Prince George Cougars acquired G Mac Engel from the Spokane Chiefs for a fourth-round bantam draft pick in 2014.

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