Here we are at the last home game of the regular season. I'm told it's standing room only — what else can you expect with the Spokane Chiefs in town.
Before the game, Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur sat down and had a bite to eat with me. After working with him for 6 years here, it was nice to catch up a bit.
Whereas the Americans are stuck in fourth place in the Western Conference, the Chiefs are gunning for the U.S. Division title and the Western Conference's top seed in the playoffs. Spokane is one point behind Portland in the standings. The Winterhawks are at Seattle tonight. The T-birds are out of the playoffs, but could play spoiler. Spokane is at Portland on Sunday in a game that could decide the division title and No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
The Americans will hand out their awards tonight after the game. I have the inside track on that, but you my friends, will have to wait until after the game.
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Spokane mascot Boomer the Bear is in the house. He and Winger had a little tussle on the ice — we'll call it a draw. Boomer will be a target for the chuck-a-puck during the second intermission.
Derek Zalaski and Colby Smith are the officials tonight. Let's hope they are better than the pair that was here last night. Couldn't be any worse.
James Reid is manning the goal for the Chiefs tonight, while Drew Owsley is in net for the Ams. Mason Wilgosh, who returned last night after missing 11 games, is scratched again. I heard there is a bit of swelling again, but I will never know for sure. Best to hold him out and make sure he and Adam Hughesman are 100 percent for the playoffs. Neal Prokop, who missed 28 games with an injury, also returned last night. He is in the lineup tonight.
It's Go Green for MDA Night. Kruise Reddick pledged $2 per goal the team scored this year to MDA, and the Americans matched his donation. Ceremonial puck drops with a couple of kids from MDA. I'm sure it will be a night they will remember for a a long time.
Brendan Shinnimin needs just point to hit 200 for his career. We will keep track of him tonight.
Spokane's Tyler Johnson, the No. 2 leading scorer in the WHL with 51 goals and 60 assists, has 22 goals and 41 career points against the Americans, including 10 goals and 9 assists this year.
Time to drop the puck. Don't go far, it's going to be a good one.
Spokane struck first with a goal by Dominik Uher at 6:19 on a 5x3 power play. Tyler Schmdit evened thing up at 10:07, then Kruise Reddick scored 2 for a 3-1 game. Spokane's Blake Gal scored with 57 seconds left in the period on the power play to make it 3-2. Chiefs starter James Reid took a seat at 15:49 and Mac Engel is now in net.
Nice surprise visit by one of my brother's friends Kevin Porter from the Pendleton area. He and Kirk have been BFFs since they were about 2 years old. Got to catch up with him, so I fell a little behind.
Puck has dropped for second. Stay tuned.
Ams lead 5-3 after scoring a pair of power-play goals in the final minute of the period by Shinny and Ashton.
By the way, not only is everyone going to Burger Ranch, but free Chalupas, as well. Oh, and Portland is beating Seattle 5-3. A Portland win gives them the U.S. Division title.
The Ams hold off the Chiefs 6-4. Exciting to the end. One of the better games we have seen in awhile.
The Americans handed out their annual awards after the game, with Brendan Shinnimin and Drew Owsley sharing Player of the Year honors. Other honors were: Scholastic Player of the Year: Chris Driedger (3.9 GPA); Todd Klassen Humanitarian of the Year: Adam Hughesman; Most Sportsmanlike Player: Kruise Reddick; Rookie of the Year: Connor Rankin; Defenseman of the Year: Tyler Schmidt; Top Scorer: Brendan Shinnimin (96 points); Three Stars Award: Brendan Shinnimin; Volunteer of the Year: Bob Nelson, Tri-City Hockey Booster Club; Corporate Sponsor of the Year: Wildhorse Resort and Casino.
The playoffs are up next. See you then.