Sixty-two goals. That's all the Tri-City Americans have allowed in 25 games.
It's the second fewest allowed by any of the 22 teams in the Western Hockey League, and the defense, solid goaltending and the stingy penalty kill unit have kept the puck out of the net.
"That's the key to any good team; the defense," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team has won four in a row and nine of its last 10. "Our defense, as a group of eight, are doing a really good job and have gone unheralded. The last 10 games we've really found a rhythm."
The Americans (19-6-0-0, 38 points) take their game on the road today to face the Kelowna Rockets (10-12-2-1, 23 points). Tri-City last played Kelowna on Oct. 7 at Toyota Center, a 5-2 victory.
Since then, the Rockets have played 21 games, winning just seven.
"There's a lot of things that have come into play for us," Rockets coach Ryan Huska said. "We had a stretch where we were seriously banged up and a stretch where we had guys playing as individuals. We have gotten that straightened out. We are looking forward to (tonight)."
Kelowna is tough at home, where tickets are hard to come by on any given night. The Americans lost their first game this season at Prospera Place 4-3.
"Any game, especially on the road, can be hard to win, whether you are on top or on the bottom," Tri-City defenseman Zach Yuen said. "We have to take it to them. Winning gives you confidence. We take it game by game and try to win every game."
Yuen is the catalyst that keeps the defensive unit running smoothly.
He has four goals and nine assists, but his most impressive stat is his team-high plus-18 rating. Defensive partner Mitch Topping has 12 points and a plus-16 rating.
"Zach and Mitch complement each other really well," Hiller said. "Both broke into the league at 16, and both being 18, they have played a lot. To be a defenseman in the league at 16 is tough."
The No. 2 pairing of Sam Grist and Michal Plutnar is just as effective. Grist, a second-year player, is a plus-9, while Plutnar, a rookie from the Czech Republic, is a plus-4 with three goals and four assists.
"You see the growth in players during the season, and Sam is an example of that," Hiller said. "We saw it in the playoffs with his assertiveness. His overall play has improved, and his confidence has grown. Michal has a remarkable ability to understand the game for being just 17. The language barrier hasn't been much of an issue. He understands what he did wrong before he can get back to the bench and we yell at him."
Drydn Dow and Derek Ryckman are a solid third-line pair.
Ryckman brings the size and strength, and Dow the speed and ability to bring the puck up the ice.
"We are confident with them up against another team's top line," Hiller said. "There is no need to panic to make a change as there was in the past."
The Americans rank second in the league on the penalty kill at 83.2 percent, just behind Red Deer.
In three games last week against Portland, Swift Current and Regina, Tri-City allowed just one power-play goal on 11 chances.
The Americans have changed their penalty kill formation to a 1-3 trap at the blue line, forcing teams to dump the puck into the zone instead of setting up their offense.
Ty Rimmer and Eric Comrie have provided the last line of defense in goal.
Rimmer (11-3-0-0) ranks second in the league with a 2.07 goals-against average, while Comrie (8-3-0-0) has a 2.76 GAA.
"They have had a good penalty kill for years," Huska said. "They change things up a fair amount. You have to do what you can to get into the zone. Their goalies are no different than any others -- you have to find a way to get traffic in front of them. We have to put as many pucks at them as we can."