The Tri-City Americans will finish their preseason schedule this weekend with a home-and-home series with the Spokane Chiefs.
The Americans will host the Chiefs at 7:05 p.m. Friday, then will play in Spokane at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Spokane Arena.
Tri-City is 3-3 after participating in two preseason tournaments, including a 2-1 record last weekend during the Americans’ Red Lion Hotels Tournament.
“I thought we really made good steps in our tournament in particular,” Americans coach Mike Williamson said. “We played a few more veterans than we had the previous weekend. I really liked the way our game progressed. I thought there was good intensity, especially the last two games against Red Deer and Seattle. We came up short in the Red Deer game, but I like how hard our guys worked. It was a physical affair. It was more like a regular-season game. It is early yet and we have a long way to go. I thought from a work standpoint and an intensity standpoint, we are at a good level.”
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Jordan Topping, the team’s leading returning scorer, Parker Wotherspoon, Michael Rasmussen and Juuso Välimäki have led the scoring during the preseason despite limited action. It’s what Williamson wanted to see.
“We are expecting those guys to carry our team this year,” Williamson said. “Offensively, losing Parker Bowles and Beau McCue to graduation, we need some of those guys to step up. They are a year older, they will have more responsibility, and they will have increased roles. This is the time to start to get those expectations up so they can help our team win games.”
The Western Hockey League has 139 players attending NHL camps, with at least one player from each team. The Americans have four players attending camps, along with Bowles, who was invited by the Minnesota Wild, and Brandon Carlo, who will play in the Boston Bruins organization this season.
Topping is with the Dallas Stars at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., which runs Friday through Tuesday. Topping and Bowles will face each other Friday.
“I learned a ton at development camp (in July),” Topping said from Traverse City. “You are surrounded by great players. You learn a lot from the pros just by watching what they are doing. This (NHL camp) will be cool, for sure.”
Dylan Coghlan, who is at the Detroit Red Wings camp, also will be at the Traverse City tournament. He is one of seven free-agent invites.
Wotherspoon and Max James are attending the New York Islanders camp. Wotherspoon is a 2015 fourth-round NHL draft pick, while James is a free-agent invite.
“It’s an exciting thing for those players to get to go to an NHL camp, whether they are drafted or invites,” Williamson said. “It’s an opportunity to impress the team they are with or teams who are watching. They always come back learning something. We really express to them before they leave, to watch how the guys prepare, how hard they work, whether it is on the ice, or taking care of their bodies off the ice. Hopefully they can bring some of that experience back and give some of that knowledge to their teammates.”
On your TV
The Americans will have eight games broadcast on KNDU/SWX this season, starting with the Dec. 10 game with the Victoria Royals.
The remaining four home games are Jan. 28, Feb. 18, Feb. 24 and March 17. Three games at Spokane Arena will be broadcast Feb. 11, Feb. 25 and March 18.