A stint of nine of 10 games at the Toyota Center came to a close for the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night. During that 10-game stretch, they went 5-4-0-1 and now stand at 8-6-0-1, which is good for third in the U.S. Division.
Let’s take a look at the last two games which came at the Toyota Center last weekend.
Friday, November 1st: Tri-City 5 Seattle 2
The Americans found scoring throughout the lineup as they took their third straight this season over their U.S. Division rival. Nick Bowman, Paycen Bjorklund, Kyle Olson, and Edge Lambert each contributed two points, and six other Americans also found the score sheet.
Ryan Gottfried got the T-birds on the board first in the second, but the Americans bounced back with 19 second period shots and found the net in behind Seattle goalie Roddy Ross twice to take a 2-1 lead.
Lambert provided a net-front redirection on the power play to start the scoring, and then Samuel Stewart fired a seeing-eye shot that found its way through. The goal was his first in a WHL regular season game.
Andrej Kukuca tied the game for Seattle on the power play, but Bjorklund provided the game winner just 1:16 later. Samuel Huo kept a loose puck alive in the Seattle zone, and Bjorklund came flying in to wire it home. The goal was his second in as many games and his fourth this season.
Connor Bouchard and Marc Lajoie then provided empty-net goals, with Lajoie’s coming shorthanded, to give us the 5-2 finish.
Lajoie seemingly has a knack for very long empty-net goals. He scored one the same way in the previous game and now has three goals in his 16-year-old season.
Beck Warm stopped 26-of-28 in the win. The Tri-City power play went 1-for-7 and their PK was 3-for-4.
“Played well against Seattle. It was a hard game. Seattle played well. All our games with them have been tough games. Like playoff games,” Tri-City governor and general manager Bob Tory said.
Saturday, November 2nd: Vancouver 6 Tri-City 3
Things did not turn out as well the following night for the Americans, though they started out fine.
Despite being outshot 16-7 after one period, it was the Ams who led 3-1.
The goals came from defenseman Bryan McAndrews (his first in the WHL) and two from Bowman.
Bowman has found his stride with the Americans this season. This was his third straight two-point game. His very best season in the WHL came when he was 16 with the Edmonton Oil Kings, when he had 14 points. He had 12 the following season but then stumbled through stints with the Kootenay ICE and Moose Jaw Warriors before ending up with Tri-City.
Bjorklund and Bowman continue to provide much needed offense. They are tied for fourth on the team in scoring with eight points.
“Both Bjorklund and Bowman are 19-year-old players that need to contribute. Paycen is starting to come into his own. Nick is returning to the WHL and reestablishing himself. Both are important to our team,” Tory said.
After the first, though, it was all Giants. Justin Sourdif had four points and the Giants scored five goals in the final 26:53 of game time.
Warm again took the net and stopped 43-of-48 shots.
“We started well against Vancouver, however got in to penalty trouble. To be successful, we have to be way more disciplined,” Tory said.
The Giants were given seven power plays. They converted on one of them, but four of the power plays came in the last half of the game when Vancouver took over.
This coming week:
The Americans split up their six games against the Central Division this season. Their first three-game road trip takes them through Alberta this coming week.
“Tough trip through Alberta against three excellent teams. Good to get on the road for our group after being at home in October. This will be a good development week for our club,” Tory said.
Friday, 11/8: @ Calgary
Saturday, 11/9 @Lethbridge
Monday, 11/10 @Edmonton
The game against the Oil Kings will see the Americans take on former player Riley Sawchuk for the first time. The center has had an incredible season with a team-high 21 points in 15 games. Sawchuk was traded during the summer due to being one of six Tri-City overagers.
“Really happy for Riley. Great kid, works hard. Awesome seeing him have success. We had a logjam in overage and I’m glad I was able to find him a spot where he would prosper,” Tory relayed.
The American Way…
–Nikita Krivokrasov returned from injury on Friday night but was assessed a five-minute kneeing major and a game misconduct just 8:27 into Saturday’s game. He was then handed a one-game suspension for the hit which he will serve on Friday.
Tri-City forward Nikita Krivokrasov was handed a 5 minute major and GM for kneeing Vancouver's Tristen Nielsen on Saturday. He will serve a one-game suspension against Calgary on Friday. pic.twitter.com/j5dmbr146r
— Brandon Rivers (@BriversWHL) November 7, 2019
–Blake Stevenson returned from his injury on Saturday night and contributed an assist. He had yet to play in 2019-20.
–Parker Bell, who was listed as out with an illness in the weekly report, returned on Friday night.
-Going 2-for-14 on the power play has the Americans now at 17.2%, good for 17th in the WHL. Their PK is seventh overall at 81.8%.
-With the Stevenson goal, Kaden Kohle is now the lone remaining Tri-City skater without a point so far this season. That speaks to the depth scoring the Americans have found.