The Tri-City Americans are six games into their preseason schedule. They have a 1-5-0-0 record, but with several young players still in camp, general manager Bob Tory hasn’t been focused on the wins and losses.
“We want to give the young players more experience,” Tory said. “We would like to get our numbers down quicker, but we have to have enough players to finish the preseason and we are still evaluating our 20-year-olds.”
The Americans, who play at Spokane tonight and host the Chiefs on Saturday, trimmed their roster Monday, reassigning three players, including overage forward Tyson Dallman.
Dallman, who played two seasons with the Americans, was reassigned to the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
In 88 games with the Americans, Dallman had three goals, 12 assists and 80 penalty minutes.
Forward Austyn Playfair, 16, will return to the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes of the Tier 1 Elite League, while forward Maxwell James, 16, is headed to the Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The Americans still have 30 players in camp — three goalies, 18 forwards and nine defensemen.
Coach Jim Hiller welcomed back forward Connor Rankin from the Pittsburgh Penguins camp this week, but goalie Eric Comrie (Winnipeg Jets), and defensemen Zach Yuen (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Michal Plutnar (Detroit Red Wings) have yet to return.
Rankin is the Americans’ top returning scorer from last season with 32 goals and 26 assists, while Yuen led the defensemen in scoring with nine goals and 36 assists.
With just two preseason games remaining, Hiller gave his take on what he has seen so far from his team.
Impressed with: “What we have seen, is a solid work ethic from our veteran players, which always is the most important thing in the preseason because the younger players coming into the league need to know what that standard looks like. I’m very please with that so far.”
Not so pleased with: “It’s preseason, but we’ve been sloppy. The finer details of the game are so important and often times get overlooked. We have a couple games we have lost, that just based on really small attention to detail, we could have won. That importance of that is brought up again every year. The young players have to understand that, and the veteran players have to make sure they are buying in.”
Rookies: We have a lot of young players and they have pushed hard. Even the last few days, the guys we’ve sent home, they really impressed. It has been very competitive for ice time. Not a lot of players have separated themselves from others and that’s a reason so many of them are still here. There’s still some battles for positions.”
Overage players: We don’t know what is going on with Zach, he’s still out in Toronto and doing well. Mitch (Topping), Phil (Tot) and Jessey (Astles) all bring something unique and that’s important to any team. If Zach does come back, there will be a really tough decision later down the line. You always hate to see good players (Yuen) leave that have had great careers, whether it be by age or turning pro, but that is their dream and we are always happy when they achieve that goal.”
Goaltending: “It’s really clear that Eric is our No. 1 goalie, provided we get him back. Both Troy (Trombley) and Evan (Sarthou) have played better lately. They got off to a little bit of a slow start. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you play, because the game changes in a hurry. You always have to play well, or make the effort to play well. That’s a message for not only the goalies, but everyone in the room.”