Playing without stud defenseman Brandon Carlo (2015 Boston Bruins 2nd round pick) for the next couple weeks will be a difficult task for the Tri-City Americans.
The club made a roster addition Monday, but it wasn't along the blue line. Or at least it seems that way.
MacKenze Stewart, a seventh-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, was re-assigned to the Americans Monday. Stewart had spent the season splitting time between the AHL and ECHL. Although he has played defense through juniors, the Canucks are interested in Stewart as a forward and thus, as Vancouver Giants beat-writer Steve Ewen writes, Stewart will likely see time at wing for the Ams.
That's an interesting predicament for the Ams, who have been decimated by injury along the blue line all season. Help on defense is Tri-City's biggest need, without a doubt. Stewart would help fill that need, but it looks more probable that he will play wing in Tri-City.
Stewart's WHL rights were traded to the Americans last week by Prince Albert in exchange for the rights to Mark Drohan (currently playing in Alberta junior league) and a conditional 5th round bantam pick in 2017. His return to the WHL means that draft pick will now revert to the Raiders.
Stewart, 20, has 10 goals and 10 assists in 127 career WHL games. Those stats reflect his time spent as a defenseman. He stands 6'4" and weighs in at 216, so he should add some size and strength to whichever line he joins.
Now a problem arises for GM Bob Tory, what happens to one of the other 20-year-olds? With Brian Williams, Beau McCue and Parker Bowles already filling the limit of three overage players, the club likely has around two weeks to part ways with one of them.
Williams did not play Sunday against the Winterhawks, but there's no indication that had anything to do with his status on the team. The WHL trade deadline is January 10.
Ams fall to Winterhawks in overtime
The start of the second half saw the Ams in yet another familiar situation: blowing a multi-goal lead and allowing five goals, this time in a 5-4 overtime loss in Portland.
Parker Bowles (20) and Jeff Rayman (2) scored exactly one minute apart in the first to give Tri-City a 2-1 lead. After Portland tied the score, Morgan Geekie potted his third of the season and later made a beautiful pass to Tyler Sandhu (8) who buried it into an open net for a 4-2 lead.
Portland made it 4-3 late in the second and tied it with five minutes left in the third. In overtime, Caleb Jones was hauled down on a breakaway and earned a penalty shot. Jones deked to his forehead and beat Evan Sarthou to send the fans home happy and the Ams back home frustrated once again.
With the loss and Vancouver's win over Everett, the Ams fell to 10th in the Western Conference with a record of 14-19-2-0 (30 points), one points behind the Giants (13-19-3-2) although the Giants have played two more games. Tri-City sits in fifth in the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland (17-16-1-0), 10 points behind Spokane (18-13-3-1) and Everett (19-12-0-2) and 11 behind division-leading Seattle (19-12-3-0).
The Ams host Portland on Tuesday before Thursday's annual New Year's Eve matchup with the rival Spokane Chiefs. The week concludes Saturday with a trip to Kent to face the Seattle Thunderbirds.
On the mend
No changes to the injury report. Rookie forward Kyle Olson did not dress Sunday at Portland, but is expected back soon.
Carlo starting strong for Team USA
Brandon Carlo, playing on the top defensive pairing, did not record a point in either of Team USA's first two games at the World Juniors. Carlo finished the Canada game with a plus-1 and put a shot into the net from the point against Sweden, but the goal was disallowed by a crease violation. The goal would have tied the game in the final minutes of the third.