There were a few yellow caution jerseys on the ice Thursday, but Tri-City Americans coach Jim Hiller took it as a sign of encouragement.
“This is the most guys we’ve had on the ice for practice since the Everett Tournament,” said Hiller, who still has 29 guys on the roster with another on the way.
“With the fights and automatic game misconducts, we finished a couple games last weekend with six or seven forwards. It’s a full complement today. We need to get more evaluations done this weekend.”
Defenseman Drydn Dow, who took a knee to the thigh last Friday, will be in action tonight against Spokane at Toyota Center as the Americans finish up their preseason schedule this weekend. Tri-City will be at Kelowna on Saturday.
“Kelowna is always good, especially in their own rink,” Hiller said. “We’ve had a bit of a rivalry with them over the last couple of years.”
Goalie Luke Lee-Knight is healthy, but forward Connor Rankin and defenseman Sam Grist still are nursing injuries and will not play. Forward Brendan Persley is questionable.
“We like our team,” Hiller said. “We just don’t know what it is yet. We still have a lot of young guys and new guys, and they haven’t gotten a good opportunity to show us much yet.
“With offensive players, it’s a difficult part of the game to teach. Defensively, everyone can learn what to do, but offensively, decisions are made in a split second. Those are things we can work on, but you have to have skill.”
With Lee-Knight back in action, Hiller and his staff can evaluate him and Brenden Fiebelkorn side-by-side.
“It’s good to see him back at practice this week,” Hiller said of Lee-Knight. “We need to take a closer look.”
Goalie Eric Comrie, who is penciled in as the starter, has gotten a good look at the team in front of him over the five preseason games.
“I see really good things,” Comrie said, despite his team being 2-3. “I think we are going to surprise some people. So far, it’s just preseason. We are a really good team with a lot of young guys still in the lineup and guys who are hurt. We haven’t been at full strength yet.”
Notes: Rankin, who took a stick to the left side of his mouth against Spokane on Saturday, lost one tooth and had three capped. ... Victoria Royals D Tyler Stahl was suspended by the Western Hockey League for six games for a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct last Friday against Kelowna. ... Former Tri-City D Roman Teslyuk signed a one-year contract with Arlan Kokshetau (Kazakhstan Vyschaya Liga).