KENNEWICK -- The Tri-City Americans are down to 19 healthy skaters -- and that includes the two goalies -- but they will have to make do through the weekend before help arrives.
With tournaments and playoffs at the lower level, the Americans aren't able to bring anyone up until Tuesday when the Everett Silvertips visit Toyota Center.
"This is quite a hit," said Tri-City general manager Bob Tory, whose team has five forwards on the injured list. "We have to fight through this and get healthy for the playoffs."
Though his options are few, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller has worked out a gameplan to try and survive the weekend, starting tonight at Seattle and Saturday at home against Spokane.
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"We just have to soldier on," Hiller said. "We will play a more simple game than we usually do and try to stay out of the penalty box."
With the injuries, players such as Brendan Shinnimin and Justin Feser have logged more ice time.
"They might be up to 36 minutes a game," Hiller said. "That is too much, but when you want to win and the game is close, you lean on them a lot. Lukas Walter had a lot of ice time (Wednesday at Portland) and did a nice job."
Unfortunately for the Americans (38-15-1-2), who are tied atop the U.S. Division with Portland with 79 points, the player arriving to help next week is not Brett Connolly of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Despite Connolly's average of 6 minutes per game, Tampa Bay still is undecided on whether to return him to the WHL.
"I've been in conversation with (general manager) Steve Yzerman, but they have until the 27th to make their decision. We'll see at that point," Tory said.
On Tuesday, newly signed Parker Bowles, 16, will join the Americans, who also hope to have Marcus Messier (upper body injury) back in the lineup.
"We are excited he is coming in," Hiller said of Bowles. "Your first game is usually better than your subsequent ones. Hopefully he has a little juice in his legs."
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Bowles, in 34 games with the Okanagan Rockets (British Columbia Major Midget League), has a team-high
30 goals and 63 points. He ranks second in the league in scoring.
"He has been pretty good for us," Rockets general manager David Michaud said. "We are excited about Parker getting the chance. We'd like him to come back and share with the team how guys prepare at that level."
Bowles will practice with the Americans on Monday, play against Everett on Tuesday and return to Kelowna on Wednesday.
Though 15-year-olds are limited to five games until their respective seasons are over, players from the United States aren't allowed to join a WHL team until their season is over, leaving forward Justin Gutierrez, 16, from Anchorage, Alaska, out of the equation.
The injury bug hit Tri-City right before Christmas with Connor Rankin breaking his thumb. Mason Wilgosh (lower body) and Malte Strmwall (lower body) followed in January, and rookie Tyson Dallman hurt his knee last week. Dallman will be out 4-6 weeks.
Messier, who missed seven games before returning
Feb. 10, was upended by an open-ice hit by Vancouver's Anthony Ast midway through the third period Tuesday night. Ast received a major penalty for charging, a game misconduct and a four-game suspension from the WHL.
The latest casualty is Jesse Mychan, who also was injured Tuesday against Vancouver after assisting on Shinnimin's power-play goal at 10:34 of the first period.
"I got hit and my hand jammed into the ice when I went down," said Mychan, who will have surgery on his thumb Monday. "They will put in two screws to put it back together. I was in shock at first. When I got to the bench, then it started hurting."
Mychan, who came over in a trade with Everett in January, has made an impact in just
16 games, scoring six goals with four assists, and limiting his penalties to 20 minutes.
"I was playing with (Patrick) Holland and Feser, getting a lot of ice, then this happens. This is my first big injury. All those fights, and I get hurt when I fall.
"We are in a bit of a hole right now. We have to come back strong for the playoffs."