Brendan Shinnimin was named WHL player of the week, and rightly so.
The Tri-City Americans forward had 11 goals and eight assists in four games last week-- all wins -- to put the Americans at the top of the Western Hockey League with 91 points.
Shinnimin has 41 points in 13 games this month, with one game to go -- tonight against Seattle at Toyota Center.
"That's pretty crazy to have a month like that," said Shinnimin, who leads the WHL scoring race with 115 points. "It takes a lot of things to go right for that to happen. You have to have the bounces, and credit to Hughey (Adam Hughesman) and (Patrick) Holland as well, helping me out. You have to keep going and pushing every game."
With four goals against Seattle on Sunday, Shinnimin has 52 this season. He is the first Tri-City player to reach 50 goals since Dylan Gyori had 53 during the 1998-99 season.
"I used to score a lot of goals and have a lot of fun when I was younger," Shinnimin said. "That's how I've been approaching this -- we work hard, but have some fun."
Shinnimin, who reached 100 points Feb. 21 against Everett, was joined in the century club by Hughesman. The honor was delayed by a day, but after getting proper credit for assists in Saturday's game at Spokane, he has 101 points.
"It's great to be part of that with Shinny," Hughesman said. "It has been a lot of fun. First, playing five years for one team in Tri has been pretty special to me and my family. Everyone knows it been a pretty special month for Shinny. Me, Holly and Shinny have some chemistry right now. We just have to keep it going. We aren't satisfied yet."
With Shinnimin and Hughesman reaching 100 points, it's the first time since 1998-99 (Dylan Gyori 118 and Scott Gomez 108) that Tri-City has had two players with 100 or more points.
"Growing up, we were always at the top of the scoring list," said Shinnimin, who grew up playing hockey with Hughesman in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "Being 20, on the same line and getting 110 points is nice. He's worked really hard and it's nice to see him get that. Holly is pretty close (95 points). We'll try to get him there, too."
Personal accolades aside, the Americans are in a race for the U.S. Division title, the top seed in the Western Conference and the Scotty Munro trophy for the best record during the regular season.
The Americans have a one-point lead on Portland and Kamloops, and a two point lead over Eastern Conference leader Edmonton
Tri-City hosts Seattle tonight, then goes to battle with Portland on Friday at Toyota Center. The Americans then go on the road for a game at Everett on Saturday, and another tilt with Portland at the Rose Garden.
"We are in first place right now. It's in our hands and we can't ask for anything more than that right now," Hughesman said. "To be honest, we have done a really good job every game keeping it in the moment. We take care of business (today), then move on to Friday. Portland has a great team and we are going to have to bring our best."
The Americans need just two points to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"Seattle and Everett are fighting for a playoff spot, and they are going to bring their best coming down the stretch," Shinnimin said. "Seattle will want to get us back for (Sunday) night. Then, we get Portland. They are one of the best teams in the league with highly touted players who will play pro hockey. Home ice in the playoffs is huge, but things can change pretty quickly. We just have to focus on the next game and not look past it."
Shortly after the NHL trade deadline passed Monday, Tri-City general manager Bob Tory was notified by Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman that the Lightning was keeping forward Brett Connolly, 19, and would not be sending him back to the WHL.
Tri-City acquired the rights to Connolly from the Prince George Cougars at the 2012 WHL trade deadline in January in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft.
"Although we are disappointed that Brett is not joining our team, we completely understand the rationale behind Tampa's decision," Tory said. "Steve had to make a decision that was best for his hockey club and Brett's development."
BOB CLARKE TROPHY RACE
1. Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City 115 points
2. Mark Stone, Brandon 105
3. Ty Rattie, Portland 104
4. Adam Hughesman, Tri-City 101
5. Jordan Weal, Regina 100
6. Michael St. Croix, Edmonton 95
7. Patrick Holland, Tri-City 95
8. Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat 92