After two rough losses last week, the Tri-City Americans were looking forward to getting settled at home with a week of practice and no long bus trips.
Turns out home cooking is just what the doctor ordered for the now 5-3-0-0 Americans. They held off the Victoria Royals on Friday night with a 4-3 overtime win and then took care of business on Saturday with a 4-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars.
“Obviously with such a tight US Division all games become important and you must try to stop slumps quickly. We had a good week of practice to prepare for the weekend. Both Victoria and a Prince George were looking for victories on this weekend against ourselves and Spokane. We played a better game Saturday however both games were good hockey games. The home crowd obviously helps, Tri-City governor and general manager Bob Tory said.
Let’s take a closer look at the games:
Friday, 10/11: Tri-City 4 Victoria 3 OT
The Royals opened the scoring on the power play Friday night, but the Americans rebounded with two straight in the second just 1:04 apart to take the lead.
Defenseman Tom Caidieux netted his first in the WHL and it was an absolute snipe. He walked the blue line and uncorked a hard wrist shot to the top corner on Victoria goalie Shane Farkas.
The next goal was an odd one. Defenseman Marc Lajoie went to line up Royals blue liner Jacob Herauf and Herauf moved at the last minute to avoid the hit. Lajoie thus caught his knee and the veteran d-man crumpled to the ice. Fellow d-man Will Warm then went to his d-pairing mate’s aid and tried to instigate a confrontation with the 16-year-old Lajoie. Nothing came of it.
Since no whistle blew, Jan Cikhart and Kyle Olson went the other way on a 2-on-0. Olson put it away.
After Taarun Fizer got one back, Samuel Huo put away his fourth of the season. He skated in tight and picked the blocker-side corner on Farkas.
Matthew Smith forced overtime with his first of the season, but that only set up Olson’s heroics.
Olson and Krystof Hrabik got going with speed and did the old give and go. Olson received the puck in the slot with space and wired the winner by Farkas.
Olson had an OT winner against Farkas last season as well when the netminder was with Portland.
Warm-er than usual at the Yota 🔥 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5NoJZS0rRw
— Tri-City Americans (@TCAmericans) October 12, 2019
Ho, Hrabik and Olson led the way with two points each and Beck Warm stopped 27-of-30. Beck was playing against his twin brother Will. The two’s teams had played each other twice before, but Beck did not play in either game. Thus this is the first time they’ve played each other in the WHL.
Saturday, 10/12: Tri-City 4 Prince George 2
Tri-City completed the weekend sweep with three goals in the second period and 31 saves on 33 shots by 17-year-old goalie Talyn Boyko.
Hrabik started things off, cleaning things up after Olson drove the net.
After Filip Koffer tied the game, defenseman Jayden Platz blasted in his first with Tri-City.
Sasha Mutala then netted a highlight-reel snipe on the rush, toe-dragging to space and then rifling a shot by P.G. goalie Taylor Gauthier. That made it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Connor Bouchard gave the Americans some insurance with a nice goal a couple minutes into the third.
Tri-City would go on to win 4-2.
P.G. scored once on seven power-play opportunities. Tri-City had only two chances. Over the weekend, Tri-City was short-handed 12 times with only three chances on the man advantage themselves.
They went 0-for-3 on the PP and 10-of-12 on the PK
“Lots of practice for our PK for sure. PP was going good so I guess we needed to work on our PK,” Tory said.
Boyko was making his first start of the season. He was with the team all of last season but only got into 10 games.
“Talyn is a talented goaltender who is somewhat of an unknown. He has been patient and worked extremely hard last season and this summer. As a late birthdate he is maturing for next season his NHL Draft year. He is a humble kid who has worked hard with Eli Wilson our goaltending coach. He had a very good preseason so it was good to see him have success in his first start this year,” Tory said of his young goalie.
Olson had three points over the weekend, including the OT winner on Friday and Hrabik had three points as well. The two were playing in their second and third games since coming back from AHL camps. Hrabik earned a two-year contract with the San Jose Barracuda.
“They both make a big difference providing roster depth for our forward group. Also there leadership is invaluable,” Tory stated.
Huo also added three points. Edge Lambert had two assists on Saturday and Bouchard had two points.
The American Way…
-Cikhart and defenseman Ian Ferguson were both listed by NHL Central Scouting last week as “C” prospects or perspective fourth, fifth or sixth round picks for the 2020 NHL Draft according to them.
“Both have a huge upside. It’s good for them to get recognition. Ian has battled some injuries to start the year but will develop into a very good WHL d-man. Jan is just starting to adjust to the North American game. He is a good skater with good puck skills and is progressing well,” Tory said.
-Tri-City now heads on a short road trip with a game in Everett on Friday. They then go back home and battle the Seattle Thunderbirds. Tri-City is 1-0 against both teams so far this season.
-Mutala leads the team with 11 points in seven games. Huo has seven. Huo had 16 all of last season between Seattle and Tri-City.
-Booker Daniel was a game-time decision on Saturday but did not play. He was listed as day-to-day in the latest weekly report.
-Bryan McAndrews was also listed on the latest weekly report but played in both games.
-Ferguson did not play in either game after returning from injury last week against Spokane.