KENNEWICK, Wash. — Today, I bought two teddy bears and a soft and snuggly dog. No, these are not Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews (and I have 18 of them). They are for the underprivileged children in the Tri-Cities.
When the Tri-City Americans score their first goal tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds, a shower of soft and fluffy toys will cover the ice. There really is no sight like it. More than 25,500 stuffed animals have found their way into the arms of children over the last 11 years, including 2,537 last season.
Across the way in Section Z there is a giant alligator that is bigger than most 8 year olds. Up here in the press box, Robyn has a dinosaur and a monkey. Below me is a purple horse, and in Section H, some very nice ladies have a giant tiger and a giant bear. Very generous fans here in the Tri-Cities.
The players all want to score that goal. It gives them the feeling of Santa Claus. Jordan Messier scored the goal last year. This year, my money is on Beau McCue. Hes been playing well lately and is coming off a two-goal performance against Vancouver last Saturday.
I likely will be wrong. But whoever scores that goal tonight, it will be their first. Not one player on the current Americans roster has scored the coveted goal. The only person to score two is defenseman Clayton Stoner (2003 and 2004).
Seattle is making its first appearance at Toyota Center this season. The Thunderbirds beat the Americans 3-1 on Oct. 26 in Kent, but they have not won in Kennewick since Jan. 27, 2008, a span of 22 games. Former goalie Calvin Pickard never won a game at Toyota Center in four seasons. With the money hes making now, Im sure Tri-City is the last thing on his mind.
Tonight is the start of four games in six nights for the Americans. Friday, they are in Portland, Sunday Portland is at Toyota Center, and Everett makes a trip over the mountain on Tuesday.
Eric Comrie gets the start tonight. Luke Lee-Knight posted a stellar win against Vancouver last week, but Comrie remains the main man.
Brandon Glover is in net for Seattle. Weird not to see Calvin Pickard manning the crease.
You can follow me throughout the game on twitter: @tchicequeen