KENNEWICK -- Brendan Shinnimin spent a good portion of Saturday night being chased, checked into the boards and rubbed out in the corners. In other words, just another day at the rink.
Shinnimin had two goals and defenseman Derek Ryckman potted the game-winner to rally the Tri-City Americans to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs before a crowd of 5,887 at Toyota Center.
"You have to be ready for anything against Spokane," said Shinnimin, who leads the Americans with 41 goals and 96 points. "It makes for a fun game when there is a lot of physicality."
The Americans (40-15-1-2), who finished a four games-in-five-nights stretch, remained tied with Portland atop the U.S. Division standings with 83 points, and now trail WHL-leading Kamloops by three points.
"I was most happy with their attitude and their leadership before the game and between periods," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of his team that has been playing short-handed because of injuries. "They really wanted to win this game."
Spokane (31-20-4-3, 69 points), which has lost four in a row, is 3-6 against Tri-City this season.
"I think we let them skate," Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. "We backed off our gameplan in the second and they took over. We had a pretty good game outside of losing. It was a good Saturday night hockey game. It was good to the end."
The Americans turned a 2-1 deficit at the start of the second period into a 3-2 by the end.
Working on the power play, Tri-City needed just 4 seconds to find the net as Patrick Holland's shot from the point was stopped by Spokane goalie Mac Engel, but Shinnimin was there to feast on the rebound at 14:55.
"Any time you can help your team, it's great," Shinnimin said. "It's been going my way lately -- I'm just trying to stay mellow and appreciate the success I've been having."
Ryckman gave the Americans a 3-2 lead at 15:48, taking a cross-ice, backhanded pass from Adam Hughesman and blasting the puck past Engel from the high slot.
It was Ryckman's third goal of the season, and Hughesman's 200th career assist and is one of four Tri-City players to reach the milestone.
"It was a nice cross-ice pass," Ryckman said. "I got the puck, looked up and saw a lane. Luckily she had eyes and went in. Four in five is never easy. This shows the character we have in the room. This was a big game for us to back in the winning motion and put the losses behind us."
Shinnimin said he likes to see the defensemen get some recognition.
"They do a great job of defending and it's good they get rewarded," Shinnimin siad. "It's been a while since he's scored and the guys were excited for him."
The Chiefs appeared to tie the game at 15:33 with a goal by Cole Wedman, but the goal was disallowed after referee Sean Raphael said there was contact with Tri-City goalie Ty Rimmer.
Nachbaur saw it differently.
"I watched the replay," he said. "I'm not sure we lost."
Spokane pulled Engel the last 1:15 of the game for an extra attacker, but couldn't find the net.
The Chiefs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, with Liam Stewart converting on the power play and Marek Kalus scoring 19 seconds later when the Americans failed to clear the puck out of their our zone.
"They got a couple of lucky bounces and we hit two posts," Shinnimin said. "We regrouped and everyone got back to playing a simple game."
The Americans cut the deficit in half at 14:01 on the power play.
Shinnimin won the faceoff and the puck went out to Adam Hughesman, who fed it up top to Patrick Holland. Holland slid it back to Hughesman, who then found Shinnimin on the baseline, whose sharp-angled shot hit Engel's backside and went in the net.
Tri-City outshot Spokane 12-4 in the first. The Chiefs had just one shot the last 9:51 of the period.