By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
Growing up in Kennewick, Taylor Vickerman watched numerous New Year’s Eve games at Toyota Center between the Tri-City Americans and the Spokane Chiefs as a fan.
Tonight, Vickerman will pull on his Tri-City sweater and experience the festivities first hand.
“It should be pretty fun,” Vickerman said. “I just remember fans going nuts and it was crazy loud. It was fun to watch, I can only imagine it’s more fun to play. It’s kind of special, I’m only the second guy from the Tri-Cities to play in the game. It will be a high-intense game.”
Tonight marks the 24th annual game between the teams to ring in the new year. The Americans lead the series 15-6-0-1 with one tie.
Tri-City did not play on New Years Eve in 1988 and beat Portland 8-4 on the road in 1989.
“It’s exciting,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. “It’s hard to explain. The atmosphere is so awesome, you get caught up in a bit, even though you don’t want to. We can’t be standing around watching the crowd. We have to go out and get the crowd into the game and behind us.”
With a rash of injuries and players at tournament, the Americans have brought in three affiliate players to fill out the roster. Defensemen Jordan Davies and Brendan O’Reilly have played two games, while forward Maxwell James should be in the lineup tonight as Jessey Astles is out with an upper-body injury.