A win tonight for the Tri-City Americans would bump them up to fourth place in the Western Conference, as the team is currently just one point of the Spokane Chiefs for the fourth spot. The Americans face the first of a two-game battle against the Prince George Cougars tonight in the lone game on the WHL schedule.
Sitting atop the Western Conference are the Portland Winterhawks; nine points below are the Kelowna Rockets. Third are the Kamloops Blazers, followed by the Spokane Chiefs and finally, the Tri-City Americans.
Tri-City sits one point back from Spokane with a game in hand. Both teams have clinched playoff spots, but every point makes a difference in the standings and the eventual playoff seeding.
Jump three more spots, and there lie the Prince George Cougars, at ninth in the conference. The Cougars are eight points behind Seattle and four points ahead of Vancouver in the Western Conference standings.
The Americans are 1-1 in the month of March so far. Their first game of the month was a 3-1 loss to Seattle on March 1. Connor Rankin scored the lone goal for the Americans in the loss.
Tri-City followed that up with a 5-3 victory over Seattle the following day. Drydn Dow, Zachary Yuen, Malte Stromwall, Justin Feser and Jesse Mychan each had a goal in the win; Feser had a three-point night to lead the team, and Luke Lee-Knight allowed three goals on 28 shots faced.
Tonight’s game is the second of the month for the Cougars; their lone game in March so far was a 4-1 loss to Kamloops. Klarc Wilson had the lone goal for the Cougars.
It is also the fourth of a five-game homestand for the Cougars, who will then face a six-game road trip from March 8 through 15 before finishing the season at home against Kamloops on March 16.
Center Justin Feser leads the Americans in goals (40), assists (57) and points (97). Sixteen of Feser’s goals have come on special teams this season, including twelve power-play tallies and four shorthanded markers.
Connor Rankin has 25 goals on the season, while Malte Stromwall has 39 assists. Zachary Yuen leads Americans defensemen with 40 points (8-32) in 63 games.
Leading the way for the Cougars is center Colin Jacobs, whose 22 goals and 45 points are top on the team. Center Troy Bourke’s 31 assists lead the Cougars, while Dallas Ehrhardt leads Cougars blueliners with 20 points (5-15) in 58 games this season. Rookie centerman Zach Pochiro leads the team with 95 penalty minutes.
Tonight’s game is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. Tri-City took the lone meeting so far, a 5-2 victory on January 30. Michal Plutnar, Parker Bowles, Jesse Mychan, Stromwall and Rankin scored for the Americans; both Cougars goals came from Chase Witala.
After tonight, the teams meet again on March 5 in Prince George before facing off once more – in Tri-City – on March 9 to close out the season series.