Tri-City Americans

Ams need to inject life into sputtering power play

The Tri-City Americans have had their share of success during the first part of the season, posting an 11-5-0-0 record to lead the U.S. Division with 22 points.

But if they want to continue ringing up wins, they are going to have to put a little pow in their power play, which has been sputtering the last five games to the tune of just seven percent


The Americans, who finished second in the WHL the last two seasons on the man advantage, are sitting 20th (17.9 percent) among the league's 22 teams going into tonight's game at Spokane (8-3-0-1).

"We have to address it, but it's not a big concern for me," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "We are getting pucks around the net -- I'm confident they will start to go in. Those numbers will change pretty quickly when it does."

Tri-City has been off since beating Spokane 3-1 at home last Saturday. It's a rare week off after averaging three games a week since the start of the season.

"It's been a busy week. A good week," Hiller said. "We've addressed every area of our game. It was a needed break to focus on parts we've let slip the last five weeks."

Like the power play.

The Americans have the sixth most power-play chances in the WHL (84), and they certainly have the personnel to put the puck in the net.

Last season, Adam Hughesman had 20 power-play goals, while Brendan Shinnimin had 10, Justin Feser eight, Patrick Holland six and Connor Rankin four.

This year, Hughesman and Rankin each have four, but Shinnimin -- who led the team in scoring last year -- has none.

"We have been struggling pretty bad with our power play," Shinnimin said. "We've looked at it on video and we've worked on it on ice. It's obviously something that needs to be firing. You want to win, it has to be firing. I'm sure we'll figure it out -- we've had opportunities, but not the bounces."

Rankin, in his second year with the team, has been out on the power play with Hughesman and Shinnimin, but lately his role has changed.

"Our power play has changed a bit and I don't get the puck as much as I used to," Rankin said. "I think teams have figured us out since the beginning of the year. We have switched it up a bit. We are getting chances, but we aren't capitalizing. It's all mental. The more that don't go in, the more it gets under your skin."

With Spokane sitting sixth in the league on the man advantage, Shinni-min said the Americans have to have a full arsenal of weapons to come out on top.

"Ever since I've been here, they have had an outstanding team," Shinnimin said. "Ever since Don (Nachbaur) has been there, they are even tougher. Whoever comes with a full 60 minutes will win. Whoever takes 5 minutes off will pay the price. It's always hard to play in their building. We have to have the same effort we did here Saturday if we want to have a chance at winning."