Tri-City Americans

Shinnimin scores twice as Americans win fifth in a row

Brendan Shinnimin has had good puck luck against the Kamloops Blazers this season.

In his previous two games, Shinnimin had one goal and four assists. On Tuesday night at Toyota Center, Shinnimin had two goals and an assist to lead the Americans to a 6-2 victory over the Blazers in front of a crowd of 3,232.

"They are just another team," said Shinnimin, who leads the Americans with 63 points. "They're good, they're fast, we just have to match what they bring. My line (Johnny Lazo and Adam Hughesman) played the system and got rewarded."

Lazo and Hughesman each had goals for the Americans (35-11-0-1, 71 points), who are atop the U.S. Division, Western Conference and WHL standings.

"I thought that might have been Shinny's best game of the year," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team won its fifth straight. He was really explosive."

The Blazers (22-21-2-3, 49 points) have lost all three games to the Americans this season and are 8-14-1-1 on the road.

"I think where they are in the standings is an indicator of the team they are," said Kamloops coach Guy Charron. "When you play at team like that, it's a challenge. This was not one of our better nights."

On top of the Americans' scoring spree, their penalty kill negated all seven Kamloops power plays, while scoring on 3 of 4 chances.

"Special teams were the difference," Hiller said. "Give credit to the PK. It starts in goal on out."

Chase Schaber opened the scoring just 1:13 into the game, beating Alex Pechurskiy on the Blazers' first shot of the game, but the rest of the period belonged to the Americans, who scored four unanswered goals.

Sergei Drozd evened the score at 4:47 on the power play, and Shinnimin gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead when he beat Jon Groenheyde with a penalty shot at 9:56.

Three minutes later, Hughesman took a cross-ice pass from Justin Feser and swept the puck in at the left post, and Shinnimin added his second of the night at 19:21 on the power play, taking a pass from Hughesman from behind the net.

With his goal and assist, Hughesman reached a career high for points at 49. He added a fight to his credit in the second period to record a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist and a fight).

After allowing four goals on 18 shots, Groenheyde was pulled from the net at the start of the second period, giving way to veteran Kurtis Mucha, who stopped all 11 Tri-City shots in the period.

Kamloops cut the Americans' lead to 4-2 as a Tri-City turnover led to a Brendan Ranford goal at 7:59.

"Give credit to Mucha, he played an amazing game and gave them a chance to get back in the game," Shinnimin said.

In the third, Americans stretched their lead to 6-2 on goals by Feser and Lazo.

Pechurskiy, in his first game back with the Americans since his NHL debut Saturday with the Pittsburgh Penguins, finished with 25 saves.

"He got back to reality real quick with that first goal," Hiller said. "He did a good job shutting the door, especially in the third."

NOTES: The Americans and their fans raised $2,264.75 for the American Red Cross' International Response Fund for Haiti. Ticket sales brought in $110.75, cash donations totaled $382, check donations were $965 and the silent auction brought in $807. ... Mucha, who played in Portland his whole career before he was traded this season, played 40 minutes, leaving him 58 short of the WHL record for minutes played by a goaltender. He is scheduled to start tonight in Portland and should break the record of 12,774 minutes held by Kyle Moir (Swift Current, 2002-07).

*Annie Fowler: 582-1574; afowler@tricityherald.com

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