Brian Williams is not your typical troublemaker on the ice.
The Tri-City Americans’ overage forward has averaged 34 penalty minutes a season over the last four seasons, with a paltry 26 matching his jersey number last year.
So, it was out of character for Williams to get tangled up with Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Jared Hauf during the second period of their preseason game last Saturday at Toyota Center.
While Williams is 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds, Hauf is a monster at 6-5, 225 pounds. There were no blows exchanged, and once Williams got out of the headlock Hauf had him in, Williams put the big man on his backside. Both earned a trip to the penalty box.
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“I’m just trying to round out all parts of my game,” Williams said with a smile. “I really couldn’t get the puck in their zone, so I might as well contribute in other ways. I’m not the boisterous kind of guy, but you have to set the bar for the young guys. You are always being watched and you have to lead by example.”
Williams was back at it late in the third period when Seattle’s Wyatt Bear (6-0, 227) took liberties with Tri-City’s Carter Cochrane, who suffered an upper-body injury during the play.
“You can’t let those things happen, even if it’s at the end of the game,” Williams said. “You have to send a message for the regular season that you can’t push our guys around. Sometimes there is no choice, you have to do what you have to do. If not, it’s apparent you are scared. You can’t show scared. It’s a sign of weakness.”
So far, Williams has more penalty minutes (6) than points (1) in three preseason games, but during the regular season he’s a regular contributor on the scoring end of the game. The native of Claremont, Calif., had 36 goals two seasons ago, and 17 last year when injuries limited him to 59 games.
“If one part of my game isn’t working, I think a punch to the face just might get me going,” Williams said.
Tri-City is 2-2-2 during the preseason going into a weekend home-and-home series with Spokane. The Americans will host the Chiefs at 7:05 p.m. Friday, and will be at Spokane at 2 p.m. Saturday at Spokane Arena.
“I don’t think the record shows how our team has come together these past few games,” Williams said. “It is something to look back on and say, ‘we can do better.’ ”
Sitting one out
Tri-City forward Maxwell James and Victoria forward Jared Dmytriw will miss the first game of the regular season to serve suspensions handed out during last season’s WHL playoffs. James was suspended for one game for getting involved in a fight at the start of game against the Kelowna Rockets on April 1, while Dmytriw drew a one-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct in a game at Kelowna on April 17.
Trimming the roster
The Americans re-assigned four players earlier this week, trimming their roster to 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies.
Forward Zack Andrusiak, a native of Armstrong, British Columbia, was assigned to the BCHL. Andrusiak, 17, played in five preseason games, recording no points and six penalty minutes.
Brett Leason, a forward, is headed home to the Calgary Canucks Jr. A of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Defenseman Landon Fuller, from Williams Lake, British Columbia, will play for the Sicamous Jr. B of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Defenseman Mark Drohan of Calgary is off to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Americans on TV
KNDU/SWX will broadcast six Americans games with season, starting Dec. 11 against Everett in the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game.
The rest of the schedule includes Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 vs. Spokane; Feb. 19 vs. Everett (Breast Cancer Awareness Game); and March 11 and 19 vs. Spokane.