Annie's got a night off, so I got the luck of the draw on covering the Americans tonight. The Ams play-by-play man Craig West gave me a nice handshake and a warm welcome. Good to be back.
A little history between the two teams: The Ams are 59-52-2-0 with eight ties all time and 23-18-2-1 over the last 10 seasons. Over the last five seasons, Tri-City has dominated the series at 16-4-0-0. Last season, the two teams split the four-game series 2-2.
Here are the scratches for tonight: For Kelowna, it's D Jason Lees, D Madison Bowey, LW Brett Bulmer and RW Austin Ferguson. For Tri-City it's LW Lucas Nickles, LW Mackenzie Royer, RW Marcus Messier and LW Nathan MacMaster.
Ams have had some great opportunities early on. Justin Feser has come close on a couple of chances. He was denied with a great glove save by Rockets goalie Adam Brown in the first minute and ricocheted one off the crossbar with 12:39 left.
Still scoreless midway through the first.
Lukas Walter is getting physical for Tri-City. The 6-foot left winger laid out a guy at center ice and was looking for another big hit at about the 13 minute mark.
What he got was a showdown with Kelowna winger Jessey Astles, who threw the gloves down with him for some nice swings at center ice.
They both got in some nice cuts, but Astles got the last word, getting Walter off balance and bringing him down.
Rockets score first and they do it on the power play, where the Ams have suffered a bit on the penalty kill. Colton Sissons was camped out at the left post and tapped one in off a pass from Cody Chikie with 8:04 left.
But it doesn't take long for Tri-City to come storming back. About a minute and a half later, it was the Ams on the power play, courtesy of Connor Rankin. The 6-foot center skated in from the left circle and put a quick wrister past Brown inside the left post on the assist from Adam Hughesman and Feser.
Still, it feels like Tri-City should have at least two and probably three goals by now. The Ams had no trouble working the puck into the Rockets' zone but missed on some odd-man rushes to the net.
But as far as putting the puck on frame, Kelowna holds the shot edge 14-13 at the end of the first period.
How about that?
Tri-City gets two quick goals to begin the second period. The first came off the power play — the Ams are now 2-for-3 with the extra man — as Rankin scored his second of the night and sixth of the season off assists from Zach Yuen and Feser.
The second came on a nice hustle play by Jordan Messier. He kept following the puck after a cross from the right circle got knocked away by Brown. But Messier caught up to it just inside the left circle, whirled and flipped the puck into the upper right corner of the net past Brown for a 3-1 lead.
Now ANOTHER Tri-City goal off some nice teamwork by Brendan Shinnimin and Hughesman at the 11:30 mark. Shinnimin took a pass from Rankin along the right wing and skated into the left circle, showing some nice patience to let the play develop. Once Shinnimin hit his mark near the right post, Hughesman delivered a pass right on Shinnimin's stick for the tap in and a 4-1 lead.
Kelowna cuts it to 4-2 on a slapshot from Myles Bell with 7:08 left in the second.
Ams using some nice teamwork this period and getting some results after those missed chances in the first.
Tri-City holds a 30-23 shot advantage at the start of the third. Their work rate was very good in the second. Lets see if they can keep it up.
Kelowna just rushed the net and put a flurry of shots on Eric Comrie, the Ams goaltender. It looked like Comrie made the stop, but the officials are going to review this one. A goal would bring the Rockets to within just one goal at 4-3, so this is a pretty important call.
Taking a long time to make it, though. Referee Pat Smith has been on the phone upstairs for a good four minutes, it seems.
And the call is no goal. Still 4-2 Ams with 17:00 left in the game.
Tri-City picks up an insurance goal with 11:56 left. This time, it's Mitch Topping on a power-play slapshot from the top of the right circle off a pass from Yuen. It's 5-2 and no sign of letting up.
Ams win it 5-2 and snap a two-game losing streak.