KENNEWICK -- Taking a page out of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, New Year's Eve will be revisited Feb. 21.
After a hole in the ice forced the Tri-City Americans' annual New Year's Eve game with the Spokane Chiefs to be halted at 2:35 of the second period, the teams will replay the game from the start on Presidents Day.
"It's a difficult situation," said Rick Doerksen, the WHL's vice president of hockey. "When you look at it, you have guys at the World Juniors. Those player will be back, and the trade deadline is coming up. The rosters may not be the same. Starting over is the proper thing to do. Fans will get to see a full game. We felt, as did the parties involved, that is was the best option."
Doerksen said had the problem occurred later in the game, such as in the third period, the remainder of the game would have been played just prior to the next Spokane game at Tri-City.
Both teams will be able to dress their best rosters available and statistical information from the partial game will be removed from the league statistics.
The score was tied at 1 when the game was called after a hole developed in the ice in front of the Tri-City team bench. Kruise Reddick had a goal for the Americans, while Brenden Kichton had the Chiefs' goal.
The Toyota Center crew worked for more than 30 minutes to try and fix the problem Friday, but when it was unable to fill in the hole in the ice and make it a safe playing surface, the game was stopped.
Ben Bolander, associate director of the Toyota Center, said the ice has been repaired.
"We had it fixed Saturday night, and it sat all day Sunday," Bolander said. "They had practice (Monday) morning and afternoon, and so far so good. We will investigate it more after (today's) game, but for now the patch job seems to be holding."
While the ice seems to be holding its own, the Americans' bottom line for the game may not.
The game is the highest attended all season, and between ticket sales and their cut of the food and beverages, the Americans won't know the damage until after February's game.
"We'll be circling the wagons," said Brian Sandy, the team's chief marketing officer. "We will honor the tickets on Presidents Day, but until everything is done and counted, we won't know anything.
"The bigger picture is what caused the hole in the ice. We've been assured (the patch) will hold, but the proof is in the pudding. We won't know for sure until it is skated on in a game situation. It will be assessed again after the game."
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org