It’s been a nice day with the sun shining and all. I just wish it was warmer. I know it’s just January, but I really am a warm weather kinda gal.
The Kamloops Blazers are here again. They were here just last Friday, and today is their last visit to Toyota Center this season. Funny thing about the Blazers’ schedule. They were in Kennewick on Friday, at home with Portland on Saturday, they hopped on the bus and drove to Kent on Monday to play the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. Now they are in Kennewick again. According to Map Quest, this adds up to 1,386 miles. Add another 426 on to that tonight to get the Blazers home.
The Blazers were in town early. I saw their team bus up at Fred Meyer about noon, but did not see the team. From what I’m told, the bus driver was filling up the ride home.
Tonight is the sixth of nine home games for the Americans this month. They have won 11 straight at home dating back to Nov. 26 with a win over Kootenay. This run includes two wins over Portland, two against Vancouver and three against Seattle. The last time the Thunderbirds were here, Calvin Pickard asked how many more times they were at Toyota Center this year. He was happy to know it was just one — Feb. 25. The poor kid has never won a game here.
Speaking of Portland, the Americans dropped a 5-4 OT game at Memorial Coliseum last night. While they have an 11-game win streak at home, they are 3-4 on the road in that span. Portland and Spokane are tied atop the U.S. Division with 61 points each. The Americans are four points back. The Ams are still without Jordan Messier (concussion) and Neal Prokop, who has a thigh bruise. Both are day-to-day. Also scratched is big D-man Sam Grist. Not sure why.
On Tuesday, the Blazers held off Seattle in a SO, which was impressive with all the injuries they have (they dressed 16 skaters). Team captain Chase Schaber suffered a leg injury against the Ams last week. Thomas Frazee suffered a knee injury against Portland last Saturday and is out for a couple of weeks. Add Bernhard Keil (shoulder) and Jordan DePape (leg) to the list. Kamloops has lost six straight to the Americans — at home and at Toyota Center.
Now that we have the scratch list all figured out, here are your starting goalies — Drew Owsley for Tri-City and Cam Lanigan for Kamloops, which I'm happy to report is NOT wearing their giant pumpkin jerseys.
Just one ref tonight, Jason Nissen. Two Zambonis and one ref.
I have to give kudos to the Blazers for bringing back their Best of the West ballots that I gave them Friday. With all that time on the bus, they had a few spare minutes to help me out. Much thanks.
Kind of a sparse crowd here tonight. I hope more people show up. What else is there to do on a Wednesday night? With TiVo, there are no excuses.
Puck drops in 10 minutes. Back after the first period.
Paul Sohor has the Ams leading 1-0. Not great play by either team, but both played last night and traveled back to Kennewick. I'll cut them a little slack.
Wow, I really got off track today. Ams win 5-0 with Connor Rankin having a goal and two assists and Drew his third shutout of the season. Matt MacKenzie, Carter Ashton and Adam Hughesman also scored as the Ams won their 12th straight at home.
They guys are off until Saturday. Tune in then.