A week of homecomings…
The Tri-City Americans got two key overage forwards back from the AHL last week. They also finally got to play at the Toyota Center after starting the season with five straight road games.
The San Jose Barracuda announced on October 3rd that they had signed Czech Republic native and Tri-City forward Krystof Hrabik to a two-year AHL deal. They also announced that he would be assigned to the Americans for the 2019-20 season. Hrabik attended Barracuda camp on a tryout and scored two goals in the preseason. That was enough for him to earn a contract. Since the San Jose system does not have an ECHL team, Hrabik returning to Tri-City should not come as a surprise.
The Americans also got Kyle Olson back from his tryout with the Rochester Americans. Tri-City governor and general manager Bob Tory knows that these two will be key for his team this season.
“Obviously, that was huge for our hockey team. Olson is our captain and Hrabik is a signed pro. Both immediately improve our offensive depth, as well as being leaders.”
With Hrabik being an import and the team already having forward Jan Cikhart and defenseman David Homola, they had to move one to get down to the CHL’s limit of two.
They did that on Friday, placing Homola on CHL Import Waivers. He was immediately scooped up by the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“David is a quality kid and has very good potential as an offensive d-man. He was aware of the situation when he came over after the import draft. I am glad he was claimed on waivers by Moose Jaw and wish him nothing but the best. This is the second time around with this for us as we previously had Sergei Sapego get claimed by Prince Albert and things worked out very well for him,” Tory stated.
They did indeed, as Sapego put up 43 points from the blue line for the Raiders last season, en route to winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions and earning a contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
Tri-City also had to move out one of their four overagers. They did that today by trading defenseman Dominic Schmiemann to the Brandon Wheat Kings for a fifth-round pick in 2020 and a conditional selection in 2022.
Schmiemann was originally a first-round pick of the Swift Current Broncos. He was part of the big trade that team made in 2017 with the Calgary Hitmen for Matteo Gennaro and Beck Malenstyn.
The Hitmen then moved him to Tri-City last season for a fourth-round pick in last year’s WHL Bantam Draft and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2020. He played in 59 games with the Ams, netting three goals and adding 11 assists.
“Dom was an excellent player and leader for our hockey club,” Tory said in a press release. “We wish Dom nothing but the best in Brandon.”
Tory noted that he actually had five overage players that were all good enough to play in the WHL, despite the limited number allowed. They traded Riley Sawchuk to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a third-round pick in 2021 this summer.
“We (had) four quality 20-year-olds and we are only allowed to keep three. Actually, we would of had five as we moved Riley Sawchuk in the summer. It’s a tough decision and would love to keep them all. However, better to be in this situation than having to deal for 20-year-olds. The unfortunate part this season is there was an abundance of quality overage players that had to be moved, so return prices were only average for these players.”
One more road game and the the home opener…
As the renovations to the Toyota Center were getting finished up for the unveiling on Friday, the Americans played one last road game. This time they played outside the division as they took on the Kelowna Rockets.
Sasha Mutala was scratched for an unknown reason, and the Rockets fired 30 shots over the first two periods on Beck Warm en route to a 6-1 Kelowna win.
The lone bright spot was 2001-born forward Edge Lambert netting his first career WHL goal.
Three nights later, and with Hrabik and Olson making their season debuts, the Americans hosted the Spokane Chiefs. The new video board was unveiled, much to the delight of the Toyota Center faithful.
— Buried Puck Threads (@BuriedPuck) October 6, 2019
The Chiefs jumped all over the Americans with 14 shots in the first to Tri-City’s four.
Ty Smith, who had recently been returned by the New Jersey Devils, helped the Chiefs power play go 3-for-7 in a 7-1 Spokane win over the Americans.
16-year-old d-man Marc Lajoie had the lone goal in the loss.
“Our organization never uses excuses for losses. We were beat by two good teams and need to learn from our performance, make adjustments, and get better. All in all, after Kelowna, we concluded a five-game road trip going 3-2, which we were happy with. Spokane returned the favor of beating us soundly in our home opener after we beat them in their home opener. About the only good thing from the night was the unveiling of our new scoreboard and the attendance,” Tory said.
The announced attendance of 5,266 was the most for a home opener since 9/24/2011.
From now until early November, the Americans get to stay home for the most part. They play eight of their next nine games at the Toyota Center.
Their next two games are Friday and Saturday night against the Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars.
“October is a month where we are basically at home. It is a good time for practice for our group. We cannot look past Victoria on Friday before we focus on Prince George. It is early in the season and all teams are hungry for victories. These will not be easy games. This will be a good test for our team, and we look forward to the weekend.”
The American Way
-Cikhart and defenseman Ian Ferguson were tabbed “C” level prospects in NHL Central Scouting’s Preliminary Players to Watch list.
-Ferguson made his season debut for the Americans on Saturday against the Chiefs. He returned from his upper body injury.
-Booker Daniel was out for both games and was listed as “day-to-day” with an upper body injury in last week’s weekly report.
-Nikita Krivokrasov also returned in the loss to Spokane. He had a scary fall against Portland back on 9/21.
-Tri-City still has 17 forwards, eight defensemen, and three goalies on their roster for 28 total players.
-Blake Stevenson was still listed as out “month-to-month” in the most recent weekly report.
-2004-born, signed forward prospect Jake Sloan has two assists over two games for the Leduc Oil Kings of the AMHL.
-2002-born forward Sequoia Swan has two goals and an assist for three points in six games with the OCN Blizzard of the MJHL. Swan played four games for the Americans last season.
-2003-born, signed blueliner Carson Haynes had one assist over two games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes Midget AAA team.