The music blasting out of the Tri-City Americans dressing room spoke volumes.
No longer was there talk of how the team was on its longest losing streak in 4 1/2 years, but instead there were questions of when the Americans last scored so many goals in a game.
Tri-City blasted Spokane 8-3 on Saturday night to snap its five-game losing streak, scoring its most goals since scoring eight in back-to-back games in early November of last season.
“All teams get into peaks and valleys,” said forward Mason Wilgosh, who scored twice. “It’s good to get out of that valley. It feels good to know the bounces are now going our way.”
The $64,000 question now is whether this will be the start of a winning streak, or just a momentary blip on the radar of a long season. The answer comes tonight when the Americans complete their three-in-three weekend at home against Everett.
“We’re in high spirits,” said forward Brendan Shinnimin, who was the No. 1 star after also scoring twice with a plus-3 rating. “This win gives a lot of confidence to the room. But we still have tons of work to do. It’s a relief to get this win, but we need to build off it and push forward.”
Lots of frustration vented out of the arena on this night — not just because of the losing streak, but because when the archrivals met a week ago in Spokane, the Americans put up perhaps their worst game of the season in a 5-0 stinker.
“It feels good to get redemption on them,” Wilgosh said.
Shinnimin echoed, “After going to Spokane and getting romped up there, it feels good to win big against our biggest rivals and to let them know we’re not an easy team to play against.”
The Americans were coming off a good showing Friday night in Chilliwack, a 4-3 loss that didn’t reward them with any points for all their effort.
As in two other games during the losing streak, Tri-City had a double-digit shot advantage on its opponent — a 42-25 edge in this case.
Saturday night, Spokane actually outshot the Americans 30-27. The irony was not lost on Ams coach Jim Hiller.
“We had so many good chances last night that we didn’t score on,” he said. “I thought we had a lot less chances tonight, but the puck found a way to go in. That’s just the way it works. Sooner or later, the puck has to go in.
“I think (Friday’s game) carried over for sure. We felt really good about how we played. We came out with the same energy and physicality tonight, and the pucks went in.”
Wilgosh and Shinnimin both agreed the biggest difference in the past two games for the Americans was simple.
“Get the puck to the net, get the feet moving and get there,” Wilgosh said. “Just keep things simple.”
Shinnimin added, “That’s what we needed to work on, and we got rewarded tonight.”
Jordan Messier matched Adam Hughesman for the team lead with his 13th goal. Hughesman didn’t score but had three assists.
Patrick Holland, Drydn Dow and Connor Rankin also scored goals — for Dow, it was his first goal of the season and only the second WHL game of his career in which he sored. Holland also had two assists.
“This was a great group effort,” Shinnimin said. “We had guys doing a lot of good things tonight.
“It was tough there for a while. We were watching ourselves slip down the standings, and that didn’t feel very good. We were doing good things but not getting the bounces. It feels good to get our confidence back.”
Chiefs – Ams summary