Tri-City Americans

Ams forced to shuffle home playoff schedule

Hockey at 1 p.m. on a Saturday? The NHL does it, so why not the WHL?

If the Western Conference finals series between the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants goes to a Game 5, the teams will play at 1 p.m. on April 24 at Toyota Center.

With the Tri-Cities Fever having a home game that night, the Americans didn't have much of a choice, unless they want to pack up after Game 4 on April 22 in Vancouver and race the Giants back to Kennewick in the middle of the night to play Friday.

"Having home ice, we get to pick our home dates and they get to pick theirs," said Tri-City general manager Bob Tory. "If we were to play on Friday, we wouldn't get home until 5 in the morning. The fact that it is an afternoon game, we still hope to have a good draw."

The Americans and Giants open their series at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Toyota Center. Game 2 on Saturday will start at 7:35 p.m. because a Jehovah's Witnesses conference is in the building in the morning and afternoon, and the building staff needs time to convert it back to a hockey rink.

When the series shifts to Vancouver for Games 3 and 4 next week, the games will be Tuesday and Thursday at Pacific Coliseum.

While most series would have been played Tuesday-Wednesday, the Giants have elected to play Thursday so fans can watch Wednesday's Vancouver Canucks-Los Angeles Kings playoff game -- in Los Angeles -- on television.

"It's never an easy process and people get frustrated, but you have to respect other's decisions," Tory said. "There are a lot of obstacles in the way and it gets harder as the season goes along. There are a lot of things people don't realize. We hope people come out and support the team.

"We are down to the top four. They are all quality teams and it will be great hockey. We are up to the challenge. We are here to try and win this series and so is Vancouver. It will a tremendous series."