Tri-City Americans drop 5-2 game to Spokane

February 9, 2013 

SPOKANE — In a span of two days, the Tri-City Americans went from fourth place in the Western Confer-ence all the way down to sixth with a pair of losses.

The Americans, who lost a home game to Victoria on Friday, dropped a 5-2 game to Spokane on Saturday night before a packed house of 10,122 at Spokane Arena.

Riley Whitt-ingham had two goals, Liam Stewart two assists and Eric Williams finished with 30 saves for the Chiefs, who recovered nicely from a 4-1 road loss to Kootenay on Friday.

With Victoria (31-19-1-3) idle Saturday, the Chiefs (32-21-2-0) moved into a tie for fourth in the West with the Royals with 66 points. The Americans (31-21-1-2) are one point back in sixth place.

Spokane hosts Victoria today.

The Americans trailed the Chiefs 3-0 early in the third period, but Lucas Nickles cut into Spokane’s lead at 2:58, taking a feed up ice from Marcus Messier and beating Williams for a short-handed goal.

Adam Helewka extended the Chiefs’ lead to 4-1 as his shot rang off the post, hit Tri-City goaltender Luke Lee-Knight in the back of the leg and deflected into the net at 12:28.

Brian Williams cut Spokane’s lead in half at 17:18 with his 17th goal of the season. The Americans pulled Lee-Knight for an extra attacker after the ensuing face-off, but the only goal scored was an empty netter by the Chiefs’ Mike Aviani in the waning seconds.

Spokane scored the first goal of the game late in the first as Whittingham converted on a 5-on-3 power play at 17:56.

The Americans’ best chance of the first came on a short-handed breakaway by Justin Feser with less than 3 minutes remaining, but he hit the right post.

Whittingham, who had just four goals coming into the game, scored his second of the night at 15:34 of the second period as his shot from the bottom of the right circle found a sliver of daylight between Lee-Knight’s pads.

Lee-Knight, making his 14th consecutive start since Eric Comrie was shut down in January with a hip injury, finished with 27 saves.

Feser, the Americans captain, had four short-handed chances on the night, but twice hit the post, including one opportunity 3:15 into the third period.

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