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Game Day: Lethbridge at Tri-City

I checked in on Carter Ashton earlier today. He was out ice fishing and his mom said (as of 1:30 p.m.) that he still hadn’t caught dinner. Mrs. Ashton said it was snowing lightly in Saskatoon and was 10 degrees Canadian, which is 14 degrees here in the Tri-Cities. No thanks. We’ve already had enough of that this week and are expecting more next week. And here I thought we lived in the desert.

Carter won’t be joining the Americans until next week. He is due to arrive Wednesday and play Friday and Saturday when the Ams host Kamloops and Vancouver. Carter is one of a few Team Canada players getting a few days off after falling to Russia in the gold-medal game Wednesday.

Spokane’s Jared Cowen was not in the lineup Friday, nor was Kelowna’s Tyson Barrie. But, Kelowna’s Mitchell Callahan played Friday after leading Team USA to a bronze medal. Everett’s Rasmus Rissanen (Team Finland) played Friday against the Americans, as did PG’s Brett Connolly (Team Canada) against Vancouver. I’m all for letting these guys have a few days off. They have been gone since Dec. 12, missed Christmas with their families and have spent a little more than 3 weeks living in a hotel (albeit a posh one).

Speaking of Kelowna, former Tri-City D-man Zak Stebner (he was here for all of 15 games) has been playing well. He has 1 goal and 4 assists in 12 games with the Rockets. While with the Ams, he had 7 assists.

Appearing in Rick Doerksen’s penalty box this morning were Austin Bourhis of Prince Albert, who was suspended for 1 game after an interference major and game misconduct agaisnt Saskatoon on Friday; Byron Froese of Red Deer, whose sentence is TBD for a charging major nd game misconduct vs. Regina on Friday; and Wes Vannieuwenhuizen of Vancouver, who got a 1-game suspension or receiving a third instigating penalty this season in a game against PG in Friday. I got to know Wes Vann last year in the playoffs when he was a healthy scratch for the Giants night after night after night. I guess he’s making up for lost ice time.

The WHL trade deadline is Monday. Who’s to know if Trader Bob has anything up his sleeve. He’s made a couple of trades (Stebner and Ashton) that have cost him a pretty penny already. Seattle got an early start, trading D-man Scott Ramsay on Friday to Medicine Hat for a fourth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft.

Not that we really care, but tonight’s game at Medicine Hat against Swift Current has postponed until Sunday because of poor weather and bad road conditions. I guess they can blame it on the ice, but at least their ice problem is outside.

On to tonight’s game, which is what we are really here for.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are in town for the only meeting between the two teams this year. The Canes lost a 6-0 game at Spokane on Friday, are 1-6-0-3 in their last 10 games and have won just 3 of their last 20 games. Lethbridge is fifth in the Central Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Canes are trying to climb back into the playoff race, but playing games in the U.S. Division is not good for what ails you. The Canes are 0-4 during their U.S. Tour. They played at Seattle, Everett and Portland earlier this season, getting outscored 11-5.

Lethbridge is 18-16-2-0 against the Ams all-time. Tri-City won 4-2 last year in Lethbridge, where Carton Ashton scored one of the Hurricanes’ two goals. Carter was traded to Regina later in the season and now works for the Ams. Lethbridge did beat the Ams 6-1 during the Tri-City tournament in September, but so much has changed since then.

Toyota Center has not been kind to visitors in the past or this year. The Ams are 12-2-0-1 at home this year. They are deadly on the power play at home at 25.3 percent. The Hurricanes’ PP is is just 7.6 percent (6 of 79) on the road this year. Oh my.

Drew Owsley is in net for the Ams (who else). On the PP (peanuts and popcorn) are Paul Sohor (his turn to sit), Ashton, Chris Driedger and Max Moline.

For Lethbridge, Dylan Tait is working the crease, while Daniel Johnston, Philip Tot (head) and Neil Tarnasky are in the stands.

Tonight, we have new zebras on the block. It is believed that Matt Thurston and Shane Warschaw are skating their first games here at Toyota Center. Lethbridge radio man Pat said he'd never seen them before either. We'll see how they do and grade them as the game goes along. This could be fun.

Hey, the Goodwins are here. I went to high school with Paul and they come over for a few hockey games a year. Also good to see them.

In the world of former Ams goalies, Brian Boucher, Carey Price and Chet Pickard all won today. In progress, Tyler Weiman holds a 3-1 lead in the second period. Let's go for a clean sweep.

Check back later, puck drops in 5 minutes.

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Here we are, back at Toyota Center where the Americans have a 2-1 lead thanks to goals by Justin Feser and Neal Prokop. The Canes' goal came off a Tri-City turnover.

The referees so far are grading out at a C. They've missed things both ways — easy calls.

By the way, Tyler Schmidt's goal on Friday at Everett has been changed to Connor Rankin.

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A big thanks to Robyn down the way, letting me know that Tyler Weiman (Manitoba Moose) also had a victory tonight, making it a successful night for former Ams goalies.

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Wow. Four goals on eight shots turns into a 6-2 Tri-City lead. 2 by Shinny and one each by Spencer Humphries and Adam Hughesman. This means free Chalupas and Burger Ranch for everyone. At this rate, the Ams fans are going to need to go on a diet.

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All of the Americans fans went home with Chalupas, Burger Ranch and free bread sticks from Pizza Hut for Adam Hughesman's hat trick. But wait. After the game, Hughesman admitted the goal was Mason Wilgosh's. Too bad, free bread sticks all around.

No matter who scored, the Americans won 9-4. The Hurricanes got a couple of goals in the last minute of the game on backup goalie Cam Gorchynski, who played solid minutes in relief of Owsley.

Until next time, which is Tuesday with Calvin Pickard and the T-birds.

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