By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans
KENNEWICK, WA - There was a lot of red in the Toyota Center on Saturday night. First it was the pre-game pyrotechnics…then, it was the Americans’ new third jerseys…then it was the goal light.
Brendan Shinnimin scored twice and Patrick Holland picked up four points, as the Tri-City Americans (1-0-0-0, 2 pts) jumped out to a 5-0 lead before taking out the Spokane Chiefs (0-1-0-0, 0 pts) 6-3 in front of a sold out crowd of 5,922. For the fourth straight season, Tri-City has now started the season with a win and stretched their home opening winning streak to 10 consecutive seasons.
After a powerful pre-game ceremony that saw two more championship banners raised to the rafters, the Americans came out just as strong to the tune of four goals in a 15-minute span. Just 1:22 into the game, Shinnimin got the scoring started when he redirected an Adam Hughesman pass from inside the mid-slot. Four and a half minutes later and playing shorthanded, Holland picked up a loose puck and broke out Justin Feser. From the left circle, Feser then let a shot go on James Reid, who had the puck glance of his side, just under his blocker, and into the net.
Just past the midway point of the period and during a scramble in front of Reid, Jordan Messier found the puck and slipped it past the netminder for a 3-0 lead. Then, five minutes later and on the power play, Holland shoveled in a Brooks Macek rebound to put Tri-City on top by four headed into the first intermission.
The scoring, however, did not stop there, as the Americans made it a five-goal lead less than a minute into the second period. As part of a 2-on-1 breakaway, Mike Brown fed a pass to Shinnimin, who beat the sliding Reid for his second goal of the game.
But, less than a minute later, the Chiefs started to mount a comeback. During a scramble in front of Drew Owsley, Matt Marantz connected for his first goal of the young season.
It remained a 5-1 game until the 6-minute mark of the third period when Spokane connected on the first of two straight power play goals. Previously 0-for-8 on the man-advantage to that point, captain Levko Koper tipped in a Tanner Mort shot, pulling the Chiefs to within three. Then, with just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Reid Gow tallied his first of the season and, just like that, Spokane’s deficit was down to two.
With two and a half minutes remaining, new Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur opted to pull Reid in an effort to cut the Tri-City even more. But, less than 30 seconds with the extra attacker, Mike Brown slipped past two Spokane players then lifted the puck from center ice and buried it into the empty net.
Owsley finished the night with 25 saves on 28 shots in his first win of the season. Meanwhile, Reid collected 22 of the 27 shots he faced in the loss. Tri-City went 1-for-9 on the power play, while Spokane finished 2-for-10 on the man-advantage.
After an emotional opening victory over their rivals, the Americans will now turn around and play tomorrow, Sunday, September 26 when the Seattle Thunderbirds visit the Toyota Center. Game time is 5:05 pm. Seattle, who is coming off a 4-1 win over Portland on Saturday, went 0-5 in Kennewick last season, but three of the five contests were decided by just one goal. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 4:45 p.m.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
2, Patrick Holland, Tri-City
3, Levko Koper, Spokane