The Tri-City Americans are a major junior ice hockey team of the Western Hockey League, based in Kennewick, Washington. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center. Every game is broadcast locally on the Tri-City Americans flagship radio station 870 AM KFLD, and each game can also be heard streaming live at KFLD's UStream Channel, as well as from time-to-time being telecast on Saturday nights on KVEW 42.2. The Tri-City Americans have also been featured in the television series "Z Nation" episode "Day One".
The Tri-City Americans franchise is an original franchise of the WHL. They began in 1966 as the Calgary Buffaloes before being renamed the Centennials after one season. The franchise was also known as the Billings Bighorns from 1977–82 before relocating to Nanaimo, British Columbia as the Nanaimo Islanders. After only one season, they moved to New Westminster, British Columbia to become the second incarnation of the New Westminster Bruins. They moved to the Tri-Cities in 1988.
The Americans enjoyed local support until early 2000, the start of 4 owners in 4 years, all wanting to relocate the team to Canada. Between selling off team assets and one owner banning the local newspaper columnist from attending games, the attendance dropped considerably. The lack of any banners in the barn didn't help matters either. Although the ownership group represented by Darryl Porter had stated upon purchasing the team that they would create a local presence (the oft-heard criticism of the ownerships groups), Mr. Porter had still not moved to the Tri-Cities in his 3rd year of ownership. In 2004, Porter attempted to move the team to Chilliwack, British Columbia in Canada. However, the other Western Hockey League teams voted to prevent the move, including all four other American teams as well as 2 Canadian teams. Shortly after this failure, the team was sold to Tri-Cities natives, including Olaf Kolzig, the former goalie for the Washington Capitals, and Stu Barnes of the Dallas Stars, both former Americans players. Since the sale the team has doubled attendance figures and won the first division championship in team history. Porter and his investment group were later granted the Chilliwack Bruins as an expansion franchise.
The Americans annual series with the Highway 395 rival Spokane Chiefs is always intense and full of action, clearly their biggest rival year in and year out. The competitiveness of the two team is such that an annual tradition with the Americans is to play the Chiefs at home on New Year's Eve. The only time this tradition was broken was due to a one-day strike by the Americans over the training tactics of one of the coaches.
In the 2002–03 season, sixteen-year-old goaltender Shannon Szabados became the first female player to compete in the WHL when she played one game for the Americans. In 2010 Szabados won gold in Women's Ice Hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics playing for Canada.
During the 2007–08 WHL season, the Americans won the US Division regular season championship for the first time after a March 15, 2008 showdown with the division rival Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Washington at the Toyota Center. The Americans won the Western Conference regular season championship, and the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for the best overall regular season record in the WHL. The 2009–10 Season marked the third straight year the Americans won the US Division.
At their annual New Year's Eve game against the Spokane Chiefs on December 31, 2008, the Americans set a record for attendance at a hockey game in the Toyota Center, with 6,042 attendees. The Americans surpassed this number on March 13, 2010, in a game against Spokane, with an attendance of 6,053.
The Americans won the Western Conference championship for the first time in the 2010 playoffs defeating the Chilliwack Bruins, Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver Giants in successive series before dropping the league championship to the Calgary Hitmen in 5 games.
The Americans are charitably-active in the Tri-Cities area. Years ago, the Americans were one of the first teams to do 'The Teddy Bear Toss', which was originally called 'Toy Trick'. This is where the fans would throw stuffed animals onto the rink on a selected night when the home team scores their first goal. The players collect the bears and hand them out to various organizations or the players take them along with them when they visit children in the local hospitals.
A definite first at the Tri-City rink was the Breast Cancer night. Brian Sandy, Senior VP of business operations and Chief Marketing Officer, dreamed up this event, where the ice is tinted pink and the players wear pink jerseys that are auctioned-off at the end of the night. The game on Feb 2, 2008, every jersey sold for the maximum donation of $500 each, with all proceeds supporting breast cancer research.
The Americans also were active in raising start-up funds for the establishment of a local chapter of The First Tee. Players visit schools and hospitals weekly and assist the young hockey players with their practices. Links are provided on their website to other organizations like the local Humane Society, and opportunities have been provided to the Children's Developmental Center to volunteer to aid in the seating at games for a $15,000 check at the season's conclusion.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties OTL = Overtime losses Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
|1988–89||72||33||34||5||-||300||299||71||4th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1989–90||72||39||28||5||-||433||354||83||3rd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1990–91||72||36||32||4||-||404||386||76||4th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1991–92||72||35||35||2||-||363||376||72||2nd West||Lost West Division quarter-final|
|1992–93||72||28||41||3||-||245||312||59||6th West||Lost West Division quarter-final|
|1993–94||72||19||48||5||-||272||373||43||6th West||Lost West Division quarter-final|
|1994–95||72||36||31||5||-||295||279||77||4th West||Lost West Division final|
|1995–96||72||45||25||2||-||336||255||92||3rd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1996–97||72||22||43||7||-||225||288||51||7th West||Out of playoffs|
|1997–98||72||17||49||6||-||264||371||40||7th West||Out of playoffs|
|1998–99||72||43||23||6||-||311||219||92||2nd West||Lost West Division final|
|1999–00||72||24||39||7||2||231||288||57||6th West||Lost West Division quarter-final|
|2000–01||72||21||36||8||7||217||284||57||7th West||Out of playoffs|
|2001–02||72||31||31||10||0||260||271||72||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2002–03||72||20||44||3||5||240||335||48||4th U.S.||Out of playoffs|
|2003–04||72||31||27||10||4||205||197||76||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2004–05||72||26||34||8||4||172||196||64||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2005–06||72||30||35||4||3||188||221||67||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2006–07||72||47||23||1||1||240||190||96||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2007–08||72||52||16||2||2||262||176||108||1st U.S.||Lost Western Conference final|
|2008–09||72||49||20||0||3||263||184||101||1st U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2009–10||72||47||22||1||2||272||193||97||1st U.S.||Lost final|
|2010–11||72||44||24||2||2||286||223||92||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2011–12||72||50||18||2||2||281||190||104||1st U.S.||Lost Western Conference final|
|2012–13||72||40||27||2||3||246||227||85||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2013–14||72||29||33||4||6||178||224||68||5th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2014–15||72||31||38||0||3||190||242||65||5th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2015–16||72||35||34||2||1||236||253||73||5th U.S.||Out of playoffs|
|2016–17||72||41||28||3||0||272||252||85||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|Team records for a single season|
|Most goals for||433||1989–90|
|Least goals for||172||2004–05|
|Least goals against||176||2007–08|
|Most goals against||386||1990–91|
|Individual player records for a single season|
|Most goals||Kyle Reeves||89||1990–91|
|Most assists||Brian Sakic||122||1990–91|
|Most points||Brian Sakic||162||1990–91|
|Most points, rookie||Bill Lindsay||85||1989–90|
|Most points, defenceman||Steve Jacques||84||1989–90|
|Best GAA (goalie)||Chet Pickard||2.28||2008–09|
|Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played|
8 - Brian Sakic
33 - Olaf Kolzig