Tri-City Americans

Ams lock up playoffs

The Tri-City Americans became the first team in the Western Hockey League to make the playoffs Friday night, and they didn't even have to lace up their skates.

Seattle's 6-3 loss to Portland qualified the Americans for the postseason.

The Thunderbirds are ninth in the Western Conference and trail first-place Tri-City by 39 points. However, they have only 19 games remaining (for a maximum of 38 points), which eliminates the T-birds from catching the Americans (37-13-0-2, 76 points).

Tri-City, which hasn't played since last Sunday, will play its only game this week tonight in Vancouver at the Langley Events Centre.

A win over the B.C. Division-leading Giants (33-20-1-2, 69 points) would give the Americans their first-ever sweep of the series.

Tri-City is coming off a three-game trip through the Central Division, where it earned three of a possible six points. The Americans have lost three of their last four games after winning six in a row.

The Brandon Wheat Kings (77 points) moved one point ahead of Tri-City and Saskatoon for the overall lead in the WHL, but the Americans have four games in hand on the Wheat Kings and one on the Blades.

The Americans return home Tuesday against Seattle for the first of six games in eight days.