Happy New Year. It's a few hours early, but I won't be attached to this machine come midnight.
Tonight is the 22nd New Year’s Eve matchup between the U.S. Division rivals. Tri-City leads the series 13-6-0-1 with one tie.
Last year’s year-ending game was halted at 2:35 of the second period because of a hole in the ice in front of the Americans’ team bench. The hole was caused by coolant leaking through a small hole in the pipe beneath the ice, thus melting it and making it unsafe for play.
When I arrived at the rink (5:45 p.m.), Spokane coach Don Nachbaur was out on the ice bouncing a puck. A few times it came back up to his hand, and others did not. Don't know if he was trying to make a hole in the ice and postpone this game again, or just checking the hardness of the ice.
Tonight, Ty Rimmer is in goal for the Americans. A win by Ty and he equals his win total of last year at 17. On the scratch list are Eric Comrie (U-17), Riley Guenther, Justin Hamonic, Lucas Nickles and Connor Rankin (upper body injury). Rimmer is 3-0 against Spokane this season.
For the Chiefs, newcomer Eric Williams is in goal. On the scratch list are Tanner Mort (shoulder), Dominik Uher (WJC with the Czech Republic) and possibly Jason Fram or Tyler King. Coach Nachbaur was noncommittal when he turned in his list. Williams played the backup role for Prince Albert when the Raiders were here Oct. 12. The Americans won 2-1.
A win tonight would run the Americans' win streak to 10. A feat reached once before from Nov. 19, 1991 to Dec. 8, 1991.
This is the fifth meeting between the teams this season. Tri-City leads the series 3-1. Over the past 23 years, Spokane leads the regular-season series 140-121-1-5 with 13 ties.
At the U-17 Hockey Challenge in LaSalle, Ontario, Eric Comrie made 27 saves to lead Team Pacific to a 4-3 win over Russia. Nicolas Petan scored twice on the power play and Pacific converted three times with the man advantage, as it took sole possession of first place in Group B. The Russians outshot Team Pacific 30-14.
The trade deadline is Jan. 10, but this morning, the Kamloops Blazers acquired RW Brandon Herrod, 20, from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange center Logan McVeigh, 17, and the Blazers’ second-round draft pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
Puck drops in 15.
Michal Plutnar opens the scoring to give Tri-City a 1-0 lead at 6:15, and Patrick Holland adds a shorty at 11:38 for a 2-0 lead. Spokane's Marek Kalus scored with 31 seconds left in the first period to cut the Ams' lead to 2-1.
But, with two Chiefs in the box, the Ams open the second on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:37.
Jordan Messier scores on the power play to give the Ams a 3-1 lead.
Tr-City gave Spokane a four-minute power play early in the third, but the Chiefs managed just two shots on goal.
Justin Feser finished the scoring at 10:31 of the third, giving the Ams a 4-1 victory.
The Americans tied a franchise record with their 10th straight win and lead the WHL with 58 points.
The attendance of 6,064 was the third best in franchise history and second best on New Year's Eve.