Ams hit the road short-handed

By Annie Fowler, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 15, 2013 

The Tri-City Americans boarded the bus for their game with Everett tonight, missing a few pieces to their game-day puzzle.

The Americans, who will continue their road trip Wednesday at Vancouver, will be without starting goalie Eric Comrie (hip), forward Beau McCue (ankle) and possibly forwards Connor Rankin (thigh bruise) and Tyson Dallman (undisclosed injury).

"Beau is out two weeks for sure with an ankle sprain," Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said. "We think Connor will be fine, but he will be sore."

Injuries have been nothing new for Tri-City this season, with forward Phil Tot (concussion) and defensman Brodie Clowes (shoulder) out indefinitely, and others who have missed games with an assortment of ailments. Wins have been a team effort from Day 1.

"The thing about our team this year, is everyone has to contribute in some way or we aren't going to win," Americans coach Jim Hiller said. "Maybe in past years we could get away with some guys not having a great night, but we don't have those guys who will come in to save the day. Everyone contributes or we have a tough time trying to win."

Tri-City (24-16-1-2, 51 points) is fifth in the Western Conference, six points behind Spokane. The Americans are 4-2 against the Silvertips (17-25-0-2, 36 points) this season, including 2-0 at Comcast Arena.

The Americans are 2-0 against the Giants (12-32-0-0, 24 points), outscoring Vancouver 13-4.

"Every game for us is a hard game, whether we are home or on the road," Hiller said. "We've had a pretty good stretch on the road (13-9-1-0). We've shown we can win on the road. Despite what the standing may show, those are two tough buildings to go into."

The Americans, who pieced together a lineup Sunday against Seattle, will do the same tonight, starting in goal with Luke Lee-Knight, who is 3-2 this season backing up Comrie.

"He has found a comfort level, and I think our team certainly trusts in him," Hiller said of Lee-Knight. "He has been patient. Good to see a guy be as patient as he has and come in and play as well as he has. I'm happy for him. That's tough to do. Everybody wants the best for him because of his attitude. He's just a happy guy."

With an endless number of things to say.

"We lean on him," Hiller said. "Whenever I run out of things to say or I'm getting boring, I just look to Luke and get him going, and he takes it from there. He is an asset of mine."

Up front, Ryan Chynoweth and Justin Gutierrez had strong games Sunday and will be counted on this week to do the same.

"We thought Ryan and Gutz had great games (Sunday)," Hiller said. "We have to take who's healthy and go. It's encouraging to see how well those two played."

Defensively, Zach Yuen is banged up after taking a hit last Friday from Kelowna's Myles Bell -- who was suspended by the WHL for two games for his actions. Yuen played Sunday, but Hiller was able to get good minutes out of second-year man Justin Hamonic and rookie Clint Filbrandt.

"Filly got in and did good work," Hiller said. "And Hamo, just like last year, has taken off in the second half. He's getting better and better, and we are seeing some good stuff from him. I'm really encouraged by our defense."

The Americans ranks seventh in least amount of goals allowed, while their penalty kill ranks sixth at 83.2 percent.

Note: Seattle's Mitch Elliot, who hit Rankin, was assessed a major for kneeing and a game misconduct. The WHL will suspend Elliot, but his punished has yet to be determined.

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