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Americans Wrap-up Regular Season with 2-1 Loss to Chiefs

March 18, 2009 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Tri-City Americans News Release

KENNEWICK, WA - For a game that was supposed to mean nothing, the Americans and Chiefs sure didn't act like it.

Mitch Wahl scored the game-winner with 2:18 remaining in regulation, lifting the Spokane Chiefs (46-23-0-3, 95 pts) to a 2-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans (49-20-0-3, 101 pts) in front of 5,318 fans at Toyota Center. The game, which was a make-up of Saturday's postponed contest, wrapped up the regular season for both squads. The win secured the 12-game season series for the Chiefs, who took the series 7 to 5. Meanwhile, the Americas concluded the regular season one win shy of back-to-back 50-win seasons.

With both teams cemented in their playoff positioning entering tonight's contest, Tuesday's match-up was purely for bragging rights.

Throughout the first period, Tri-City dominated the play, outshooting the Chiefs 12 to 5 and spending a majority of the period in the Spokane zone. However, rookie James Reid kept a lid on the Chiefs' net, despite several close calls, keeping the game scoreless after one period of play.

In the second, as the shots evened out, Spokane began to create more opportunities. The Chiefs got a golden one at the 13:22 mark of the period as they were killing off a Stefan Ulmer penalty. Ondrej Roman corralled the loose puck and broke out Drayson Bowman, who slipped past the Tri-City defense and broke-in on Brett Martyniuk. After a couple of moves, Bowman eventually beat Martyniuk at the near post, putting Spokane on top 1-0. For Bowman, it was his team-high 47th goal of the season, and set a new personal-best for points in a season (83).

With 2:06 remaining in the period and not to be outdone, the Americans responded. Tyler Schmidt stole the puck near center ice and took off into the Chiefs' zone. Fully intending on taking it in himself, Schmidt maneuvered the puck past Reid, knotting the game at 1. For Schmidt, it was his ninth goal and 41st point of the season, which was a team-high among Tri-City defensemen this season.

Late in the third period, however, an unfortunate series of events set-up the game-winning goal. With the puck behind the Tri-City net, an Americans defender went to clear the puck from the zone. But, in the process, the clearing pass struck one of the game's referees and bounced straight to Chiefs' rookie Anthony Bardaro. Bardaro then fed the puck to Jared Spurgeon, who then found Mitch Wahl, who beat Martyniuk high on the glove side, to cap the scoring in the contest.

Martyniuk, who made his second straight start, finished the night with 19 saves. Meanwhile, Reid collected 34 of the 35 shots he faced to pick up the win. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, but went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

With the regular season now behind them, the Americans will turn their attention to the 2009 WHL Playoffs and their first-round match-up with the Everett Silvertips. Game 1 is on Friday, March 20 at Toyota Center. Game time is 7:05 p.m. It will be just the second time the division rivals have met in the post-season, with the 'Tips taking their 2006 First Round series with Tri-City, 4 games to 1. Tri-City claimed the 10-game season series, going 8-1-0-1, including a perfect 5-0 record in Kennewick. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including all Fred Meyer locations, the Toyota Center box office, or online at ticketmaster.com. Those unable to make it to the game can catch all the action live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.

Notes:

The inaugural Sterling Savings Bank 'Go Green for MDA' Night fundraiser, combined with Taylor Procyshen's 'Go Pro MDA Challenge' generated a preliminary donation of $12,455. On behalf of MDA, Taylor Procyshen and the Tri-City Americans, we'd like to thank everyone that donated to tonight's cause. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

U.S. Cellular Three Stars:

1, James Reid, Spokane

2, Tyler Schmidt, Tri-City

3, Mitch McColm, Tri-City


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