The Tri-City Americans are facing a busy weekend with three games in three nights.
The action gets under way Friday, hosting the Portland Winterhawks. Saturday, the Americans travel to Spokane, then turn around Sunday to host the rival Chiefs in their annual New Year’s Eve bash.
“It’s a great night,” Americans coach Mike Williamson said. “It’s like Teddy Bear Toss, there are certain nights that have a little bit of electricity even before the puck is dropped. I think New Year’s Eve is certainly one of those. We get a great turnout, people are excited. It’s nice for our players to play in front of a lot of people.”
Sunday will be the 28th New Year’s Eve battle between the teams. The Americans lead the series 16-9-0-1 with one tie.
If you think the series is missing a couple of games, it’s not. The first year the Americans were in the Western Hockey League, they did not play on Dec. 31. In 1989, they played at Portland.
Tri-City (19-10-3-0, 41 points) is third in the U.S. Division, tied with Spokane, though it has two games in hand. Both teams are two points back of Portland and five behind division leader Everett.
The Americans got back to work after the holiday break with a 6-3 win over Portland on Wednesday, running their win streak to four games — all on the road.
“We had a good road trip before the break,” Williamson said. “We got three wins on the road on our Alberta trip. The guys got a much-needed break, I think, rested up, visited with family and came back and played really well last night. Let’s hope we can carry that into the weekend.”
The road gets tougher in the foreseeable future for the Americans, who will be without center Michael Rasmussen, who is out with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
That said, the Americans welcomed back Parker AuCoin for the last two games on the Central Division swing. He missed 10 games with a broken bone in his foot, suffered when he blocked a shot.
“He adds a ton of experience,” Williamson said of AuCoin. “He plays in all different situations. He is one of our top penalty killers, he blocks shots, he plays on the power play quite a bit. He’s a reliable guy all the time on the ice. He doesn’t always get the accolades, but he does a lot for the team and is a selfless player. It’s nice to get him back.”
While this week is hectic, Tri-City is in for a busy stretch with four road games in five days next week, followed by seven games in 11 days.
“The good thing is we have a lot of depth and we don’t have to throw too many minutes into any one player or line,” Williamson said. “It was really well distributed last night, and that’s what we need, especially with this stretch of three in three, and the same thing next weekend. We have a lot of games the next three weeks, so it will be very important for guys to contribute like they did last night. We need to spread out the minutes and make sure guys are taking care of themselves.”
State champion Richland Bombers hit the ice
The Americans will honor the Richland High football team during the first intermission Friday night.
The Bombers won the Class 4A state title Dec. 2 with a 28-21 victory over Woodinville.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Williamson said. “Any time a team can win a championship and you can share and help celebrate that, it’s good for the entire community. Winning a championship is something we want. Maybe this will rub off on our guys a little bit. They see the excitement and are able to feed off of that.”
Tri-City knocks off Portland
Nolan Yaremko and Morgan Geekie each had a goal and three assists to help the Americans to a 6-3 road victory Wednesday over the Portland Winterhawks.
The four-point night was a career high for Yaremko, who has three goals and seven points in his past four games.
Tied at 3-3 after two periods, Tri-City got goals from Geekie, Dylan Coghlan and Yaremko in a 3-minute span in the third period to pull away.
The Americans also got two goals from Isaac Johnson and one from Kyle Olson — his first in 15 games.
Beck Warm recorded the win in goal with 33 saves.
Cody Glass scored twice for Portland, with Cole Kehler taking the loss with 19 saves.
Välimäki helps Finland to win over Denmark
Tri-City defenseman Juuso Välimäki had a goal and an assist to lead Finland to a 4-1 victory Thursday over Denmark at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.
Välimäki assisted on Finland’s first goal just 2:28 into the game, then scored at 15:38 of the second period to give his team a 3-1 lead.
Finland (1-1) continues WJC play at 1 p.m. Saturday against Slovakia. The game can be seen on the NHL Network.
TRI-CITY VS. SPOKANE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
2016 | beat Spokane 3-1 (attendance 5,860)
2015 | lost to Spokane 5-2 (5,808)
2014 | lost to Spokane 10-2 (6,025)
2013 | lost to Spokane 4-2 (6,019)
2012 | beat Spokane 6-3 (6,098, record)
2011 | beat Spokane 4-1 (6,034)
2010 | lost to Spokane 5-1 (5,691, rescheduled for Feb. 21)
2009 | beat Spokane 5-2 (5,963)
2008 | beat Spokane 6-1 (6042)
2007 | beat Spokane 4-1 (5,963)
2006 | lost to Spokane 4-3, SO (5,917)
2005 | beat Spokane 6-3 (5,737)
2004 | lost to Spokane 3-1 (5,768)
2003 | 4-4 tie (5,757)
2002 | beat Spokane 8-1 (4,972)
2001 | lost to Spokane 6-2 (5,190)
2000 | lost to Spokane 6-4 (5,462)
1999 | beat Spokane 6-5 (OT) (5,058)
1998 | beat Spokane 5-3 (6,000)
1997 | lost to Spokane 5-3 (5,943)
1996 | beat Spokane 3-2 (5,842)
1995 | beat Spokane 5-1 (5,960)
1994 | beat Spokane 3-2 (OT) (5,917)
1993 | beat Spokane 6-2 (5,560)
1992 | beat Spokane 8-2 (5,502)
1991 | beat Spokane 9-6 (6,010)
1990 | lost to Spokane 6-5 (6,010)
1989 | won 8-4 in Portland
Tri-City leads New Year’s Eve series with Spokane 16-9-0-1 with 1 tie