Game Day Preview: Americans @ WinterhawksDec 28, 2013 - 06:33 PST
Written By: Tole, Ben
Saturday December 28, 2013
Tri-City Americans (17-16-2-2, 38 pts.) At Portland Wintherhawks (24-8-2-2, 52 pts.)
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, WA; 7:00 p.m.
Listen: NewsTalk 870; 6:45 p.m.
Watch: WHL Live
Portland: 12/27/13 at Tri-City (3-2, Win OT)
Tri-City: 12/7/13 vs. Portland (2-3, Loss OT)
2013/14 Point Leaders
Portland: Nic Petan 20G-46A-66PT, Oliver Bjorkstrand 26G-31A-57PT, Taylor Leier 22G-21A-43PT
Tri-City: Brian Williams 20G-10A-30 PT, Connor Rankin 13G-19A-32PT, Phil Tot 9G-11A-20PT
The Tri-City Americans visit the Portland Winterhawks on the back end of a home-and-home against the defending Champions. The two teams kicked off the second half of the season last night with Portland coming away with a 3-2 overtime victory. The Americans hold the edge in the all-time series with a record of 127-103-6-1, going 2-2-1-0 this season. The road team has won each of the first five meetings this season, a trend the Americans will hope to continue tonight.
Players to Watch
Oliver Bjorkstrand- While the Winterhawks are without some of its fire power, it still has its top finisher in the lineup in Oliver Bjorkstrand. His goal last night was his 26th of the season ranking him third in the WHL.
Chase De Leo- De Leo comes into Saturday night’s game with 22 goals and 18 assists. The California native is starting to heat as of late, scoring seven points in his last four games and is playing a big role on offense with many of the teams top scorers away at the IIHF World Championship.
Brendan Burke- Back stopping the Winterhawks this season has been Brendan Burke and with 32 starts has been one of the busier goalies in the WHL. Burke enters tonight’s game with a 3.06 goals against and a 0.905 save percentage.
Jordan Davies- Davies played well in his WHL debut last night coming away with a clean 0 +/- rating. The defenseman was brought in to fill the void left but an American back end which has been affected by injuries and holiday tournaments.
Connor Rankin- Rankin had a nice start to the second half of his WHL season, scoring a goal against the Winterhawks last night . Rankin comes into tonight’s game leading the team with 32 points and with the absence of Parker Bowles is shouldering more of the scoring responsibilities.
Lucas Nickles- Nickles turned in another solid performance last night, scoring an important goal and chipping in with solid defense and special teams. The Salmon Arm native is playing an important role with a team affected by injury and has been a big piece of the team’s success on both sides of the ice of late.
Astles and Tot Return to the Lineup: After finishing the first half of the season without any of its overage players in the lineup, The Americans got both Jessey Astles and Phil Tot back in the lineup last night. Tri-City is hoping to have more luck with injuries in the second half of the season after combining for more than 100 games missed in the first half.
Eric Comrie Signs with the Winnipeg Jets: Over the Holiday break, Americans goaltender Eric Comrie signed his first professional contract with the Winnipeg Jets. The deal is a three year, two way entry level contract. Comrie was drafted by the Jets in the 2013 NHL Entry draft in the second round (59th overall).
Michal Plutnar Participates in the World Junior Championship: The Americans will be without the services of Michal Plutnar until the early part of January as he takes part in the 2014 IIHF Junior Championships in Sweden. Plutnar not only made the Czech Republic team but was also named the Assistant Captain.
Tri-City Rookies Participate in Under-17 Challenge:The Americans will also be without the services of Ty Comrie, Braden Purtill and Parker Wotherspoon who were all invited to participate in the 2014 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Braden Purtill will play as a member of the West Canadian team while Ty Comrie and Parker Wotherspoon will team up on the Pacific Canadian team.
Defensive Help Arrives: With the absence of five defenseman either sidelined with injury or away at the various holiday tournaments, the Americans have brought in Jordan Davies and Brendan O’Reilly to help fill the void. Davies, a Sherwood Park, AB native joins the Americans from the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League where the defenseman scored two goals and three assists in 15 games. O’Reilly is a native of Southlake, TX and comes to Tri-City by way of the Dallas Stars U16 team where he appeared in 15 games registering eight assists.
Controlling the Winterhawk Offense: With many of its key forwards away at the IIHF World Championships Portland doesn’t quite have the same punch is it normally does. However, the defending WHL Champions still pack a punch with the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Chase De Leo still in the Winterhawks Lineup. Portland entered this weekend with the league’s most potent offense averaging 4.71 goals a game. But, the Americans have done well holding its U.S. Division rival below its season average in four of its five meetings this season.
Tri-City: vs. Spokane 12/31/13
Portland: vs. Kelowna 12/31/13