Last year's New Year's Eve bash between the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs was put on ice because of a hole in the ice. Saturday night, the only hole was the one Spokane dug for itself.
Patrick Holland had a four-point night with a goal and three assists, and Justin Feser had a goal and two assists to lead the Americans to a 4-1 win over the Chiefs before a packed house of 6,034 at Toyota Center.
"This was pretty cool," Holland said. "The third-best attendance in team history. We get great fans every night, and that's a big help for us. Teams hate coming in here."
It was the first New Year's Eve game for Tri-City goalie Ty Rimmer, who had 16 saves and picked up his 17th win.
"This was an unbelievable atmosphere," Rimmer said. "The fans were with us from the drop of the puck. We feed off that. We have had success against division rivals Portland and Spokane. This being New Year's Eve, there was none bigger than this."
The Americans (29-7-0-0) lead the WHL with 58 points, and tied a franchise record -- originally set in 1991 -- with their 10th consecutive win.
"You don't win as many games as we have without contributions from a lot of different guys," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "You have to play well, have good players and have some luck. It was a tough game, but it was a good game for us to win. We were tight defensively. Offensively, we didn't have a lot of pressure, but we did the right things."
It was the 22nd New Year's Eve matchup between the U.S. Division rivals. Tri-City leads the series 14-6-0-1 with one tie.
The Chiefs (17-12-2-3, 39 points), who trailed 3-1 after two periods, received a four-minute power play just 1:09 into the third as Tri-City defenseman Sam Grist leveled Marek Kalus into the boards.
Spokane managed just two shots on goal during the extended power play, one of which was a long shot from the blue line as the Chiefs were entering the zone.
The Americans handed Spokane another power play, just two minutes after Grist got out o the penalty box, but Chiefs were unable to muster a shot on goal.
"That was good work," Hiller said of his penalty kill unit.
Tri-City finished off the scoring at 10:31 as Feser and Holland pressured the Chiefs in the right corner and got Brendan Kichton to cough up the puck. Feser ended up with the puck and put it in the net for his 18th goal of the season.
Holding onto a 2-1 lead, Tri-City opened the second period with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:37. It took the Americans a bit of time to get into a rhythm before Jordan Messier slipped the puck into the net at the right post at 1:23.
Messier got a helping hand from Spokane goalie Eric Williams, who tried to block Holland's pass across the slot to Adam Hughesman. Williams got his stick on the puck, but Messier was there push the puck in the net.
The Americans opened the scoring early in the first as Michal Plutnar picked up a rebound off a shot by Feser and beat Williams at the left post at 6:15.
Holland, who had an assist on the first goal, scored the second short-handed at 11:38. As Feser tried to clear the puck, Spokane's Jason Fram attempted -- and failed -- to stop it at the blue line. Holland collected the puck and headed up ice to score his 15th goal of the season.
"You have to hope for bounces and cheat a little," Holland said scoring short-handed. "I got a good bounce today. I love playing with Fes. Hopefully we can stay together the rest of the year."
The Chiefs cut the Americans' lead in half with 31 seconds left in the first as Kalus, camped out at the top of the crease, took a pass from the left circle from Mitch Holmberg and lifted the puck over Rimmer's shoulder.
At the U-17 Hockey Challenge in LaSalle, Ontario, Americans rookie goalie Eric Comrie made 27 saves to lead Team Pacific to a 4-3 win over Russia. With the win, Team Pacific took sole possession of first place in Group B.