The Tri-City Americans saw their season-best three-game win streak snapped at the hands of the champs.
A bizarre schedule last week saw the Ams travel north 300-plus miles to face Kelowna on Friday where they played well enough to win but couldn't seal the deal.
Then the club trekked nearly 500 miles southwest to Portland for a Sunday evening affair. Although it was only a two-game weekend, and even with a day between games, that's a pretty brutal schedule for any teenage athlete to handle.
Here's a quick recap of the weekend games for Tri-City:
Pair of third-period goals doom Ams in Kelowna
Tri-City held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against the defending WHL Champions and current Western Conference leaders. But the resiliency of champions showed in the third and Kelowna escaped with a 4-2 win Friday.
Parker Bowles' team-leading 27th of the season was the only marker in the first, with goaltender Evan Sarthou standing tall and stopping all 11 shots he faced. Rookie Michael Rasmussen's 10th of the season made it 2-1 in the second, but former American Rodney Southam burned his former teammates to tie the score headed to the third.
Rourke Chartier and Tyson Baillie scored in the third and Kelowna held on for the win despite 16 third-period shots for Tri-City. Sarthou stopped 28 of 32 shots for the game.
It was no doubt a disappointing loss after a fine effort against one of the league's best clubs.
One comeback too many for Ams in loss Sunday
Three times on Sunday the Portland Winterhawks grabbed a lead, and three times the Ams responded to the tie game.
The fourth, however, was the dagger as Portland held off Tri-City late for a 4-3 home win.
Special teams were special - and not so much - for both teams Sunday. Tri-City scored twice on the power play and another while shorthanded. Portland added a shorthanded tally of its own, as well as a power-play marker in the second. Alex Schoenborn potted the winner for Portland midway through the final period.
Beau McCue (19) and Jordan Topping (19, 20) scored for Tri-City. Sarthou took the loss, stopping 27 of 31 shots.
After the loss at Portland Sunday, the Ams sit with a record of 20-25-2-0 (42 points), 5th place in the U.S. Division and 9th in the Western Conference. Tri-City sits seven points behind Spokane (22-19-3-2), 10 behind Portland (25-21-2-0), 13 behind Seattle (26-17-3-0) and 18 behind division-leading Everett (28-14-2-2). The Ams are 7 points behind Spokane and 9 behind Kamloops (22-18-4-3) in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
The Ams get the week to prepare for a pair of important divisional games. Everett visits the Toyota Center on Friday night before the Ams head up Highway 395 to face Spokane for the first time since a 5-2 loss to the Chiefs on New Year's Eve.
On the mend
No changes to the injury/suspension report. The Ams are as close to being healthy as they've been all season, with only Taylor Vickerman and Riley Hillis (both out for season) listed on the injury report.