It’s a big night here at Toyota Center.
Tri-City Americans captain Justin Feser is playing his 300th consecutive regular-season game tonight. He started this streak Jan. 7, 2009 in a game against Everett.
Still waiting for the WHL to make a mention of this feat. Nothing in their game-day stuff today. Hopefully when he ties at 311 or sets a new mark at 312, they will take notice.
After my story on Feser came out today, our publisher, Gregg McConnell warned me about jinxing Feser. If he can get through 299 games, practices, trips to and from Red Deer and lord knows what during the summers, I think he’ll be OK.
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The boss is bringing the new ad director and a couple of suits from head office tonight. Let’s hope they have something to cheer about.
Prince George is in the building tonight. It is the first meeting between the teams this season. They play three times in one week in March — 4-5 in PG, then the teams will race back to Kennewick for another tilt on March 9. That’s a lot of PG in one week.
Tonight, Mac Engel, the former Spokane Chiefs goalie, who always played well against the Americans, is suited up for the Cougars. After the Chiefs traded for Eric Williams last year, Engel was deemed expendable and was sent to the far reaches of British Columbia at the start of the season.
Engel will not play tonight, but he will be on the bench, accepting warm wishes from the Tri-City fans.
Engel is 6-17-1-4 this season, with one win and loss coming with Spokane. He was 29-19-1-3 last year with the Chiefs, and 13-8-2-1 the season before.
Can’t lay the blame on Engel for the Cougars’ shortcomings. They have scored a league worst 123 goals, and have allowed 180 — the third most allowed after Brandon’s 207 and Everett’s 185.
PG is ninth in the Western Conference, six point back of eighth-place Seattle. The Cougars, who lost to Seattle on Tuesday, are desperate for points, and desperately need them.
Engel and Seattle goalie Brandon Glover each were assessed a game misconduct Tuesday for dropping the gear and looking for a fight. I don’t see that happening here tonight.
The Americans are fifth in the Western Conference, three points behind Spokane and one point ahead of Victoria, which has points in its last eight games.
Tri-City has lost two in a row, but still has a chance of catching Spokane. To do that, they will have to put the puck in the net, something they did now do against Portland last Saturday.
When the Winterhawks shut out the Americans, it was third time they had been shut out all season. Portland has done it twice, and Everett once.
Luke Lee-Knight is in goal tonight for the Americans. He has done a good job stepping in for Eric Comrie, who will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury. On the bench is backup Troy Trombley. You can't miss him. At 6-6, his towers over most of his teammates. I asked him the other day if he ever gave basketball a try. He told me no, and seemed offended that I would ask such a horrible thing. At 6-6, I just had to ask.
Including tonight, the Americans have 22 regular-season games left. They have 28 wins, and need 12 more to hit the 40-win mark for the seventh year in a row. Only two other teams have accomplished the feat — Kamloops and Regina.
A win tonight would give Tri-City coach Jim Hiller his 170th with the team.
You can follow me throughout the game on twitter: @tchicequeen