Tonight is Nuclear Night here at the Rink. I’m sure if Ams’ media man Dan Mulhausen could have worked it out, he would have made Toyota Center glow in the dark.
The Americans’ jerseys are from a whole other world. Day-glow yellow with bright accent colors. If the players can’t find their teammates on the ice, they ought to take a seat.
The Americans are hosting Seattle tonight. The Thunderbirds, led by goaltender Calvin Pickard, haven’t won at Toyota Center since Jan. 27, 2008, a span of 18 games. Pickard is winless in 13 starts at Toyota Center.
Pickard has won in 15 of the league’s 22 barns. He has at least one win in every Western Conference venue but Tri-City. Pickard also has not won at Moose Jaw, Edmonton, Kootenay, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Swift Current.
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I don’t know who I feel worse for — Calvin who has toiled away on a mediocre team for four years, or his backup Daniel Cotton, who has played in 8 games (296 minutes, which isn’t even five full games) this season and is 0-3-0-0. Calvin has played in 33 of the T-birds 36 games. Goalie always want to play, but even the best of them need a break every now and again.
The WHL is supposed to be a developmental league. Mr. Cotton, with three starts, is not getting the time in net to hone his skills. Practice doesn’t count. Cotton hasn’t played since getting a little garbage time against Portland on Dec. 3. He has not seen one second in net in the 10 games since.
Seattle might as well just bring in an affiliate player every week to back up Pickard and turn Cotton loose to play on a team that will let him develop his skills. If Mr. Cotton isn’t good enough to play in the league, then get someone who is.
Tonight, the Americans welcome back rookie goalie Eric Comrie, who helped Team Pacific to a fifth-place finish at the U-17 tournament. Comrie gets the starts, despite a dandy performance by Ty Rimmer against Moose Jaw Wednesday.
On the scratch list are Connor Rankin (upper body injury), who is getting closer to returning, but likely not until the Ams head to the Prairies to finish their Central Swing. Joining Rankin in the stands are Riley Guenther, Justin Hamonic and Lucas Nickles.
Surprise! Cotton is in net for Seattle, but everything I said before still stands. It is Cotton's first start since Nov. 26 at Kamloops. On the Seattle scratch list are Evan Wardley, Brandon Rouse, Chance Lund and Cason Machacek. By the by, Dave Sutter, who played for Switzerland at the World Juniors, got to the rink just before warmups. He is wearing No. 6 instead of his regular No. 18. Wardley wears No. 6, but apparently Sutter has more to offer.
I have the ROOT TV guys next to me tonight. Kevin Sawyer (who spent many minutes in the penalty box during his playing days for the Spokane Chiefs) and his partner Ian Furness.
I was very disappointed with the WHL plays of the week. The Americans have won 11 in a row, scores some pretty goals and Ty Rimmer has had some brilliant saves. In return they get nothing. I know highlights were sent to the WHL office (Robyn loses sleep to make sure they get there). Take a better look my friends, there is something special happening in Kennewick. Also, the Ams have won 11 in a row on home.
The lights are down and the spent fuel rods are glowing.
Puck drops in 5.
Tri-City leads 2-0 with goals by Jordan Messier and Adam Hughesman. Hughesman's goal put him past Dylan Stanley (113) for seventh on the Americans' all-time goals list.
Cotton has been Seattle's best player. The rookie netminder had some impressive saves, including point-blank shots by Hughesman and Brian Williams.
Hughesman and Patrick Holland each had two goals, and Williams added three assists to lead the Americans to a 7-3 win. It is their 12th win in a row, and their 12th straight at home.
The T-birds had two goals disallowed –one in the first and another in the third. Who knows if those would have changed the game.
The first goal, by Luke Lockhard looked good, but Connor Honey's in the third didn't count because Holland had scored moments before, but with the puck going through the netting, it had to go to video replay.