KENNEWICK -- The Tri-City Americans have just two games under their belt, but coach Jim Hiller liked what he saw last weekend at the Everett Tournament.
"I thought Friday (against Everett), when we went with a veteran lineup, that we had good results," Hiller said. "It was only exhibition, but the older players who have been around played hard and set an example for the younger guys.
"Saturday (against Portland), we weren't as polished or as experienced in the lineup," Hill added. "We had some younger players play more minutes. We were less effective, but we showed competitiveness in coming back and winning in a shootout."
The Americans (2-0) will ply their trade this weekend at the Red Lion Hotels Preseason Tournament at Toyota Center.
Tri-City will play Kootenay at 7:05 p.m. today, Portland at 7:05 p.m. Friday and the Spokane Chiefs at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Hiller will have to piece together lines this weekend as six players take off for NHL camps, including defensemen Sam Grist (Flyers), Matt MacKenzie (Sabres) and Zach Yuen (Jets), and forwards Patrick Holland (Flames), Adam Hughesman (Islanders) and Brendan Shinnimin (Rangers).
"We have a number of guys going to camp, but that gives us a chance to look at some of the other guys," said Hiller, who has 31 guys in camp. "You are always excited and optimistic about the young guys. We expect them to make an impact their first year."
Standing out among the crowd have been rookie forward Brian Williams and European players Malte Strömwall (Sweden) and Michal Plutnar (Czech Republic).
"Brian is competitive," Hiller said. "He was playing against guys who were bigger than him, but he was going to the net and playing hard.
"We feel fortunate to have the quality of players like Malte and Michal. We expect them to get nothing but better. They each scored last weekend, and that's always nice when you come overseas to get that first one. Malte has a lot of passion and he has a good personality. He wants to be a good hockey player."
While Hiller has been concentrating on getting the right line combinations and defensive pairings, goalies Eric Comrie and Ty Rimmer have quietly gone about their business. They split time on goal during both games last weekend.
"We take it day by day," Hiller said. "We have a lot of belief in both of them. We know they are both good goaltenders."
The Red Lion Hotels tournament will begin at 11 a.m. Friday with Kootenay playing Everett. Seattle and Spokane will follow at 3 p.m. On Saturday, Seattle plays Everett at 11 a.m., followed by Kootenay and Portland at 3 p.m.
* Everett forward Jesse Mychan was suspended two games by the WHL following his checking-to-the-head major penalty during Saturday's 6-4 loss to Spokane. He has already sat out one game and will miss Friday's game against the Ice.
* Portland (third), Kelowna (seventh) and Red Deer (ninth) appeared in the first CHL Top 10 rankings. The defending Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs came in at No. 1.
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org