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Are the Tri-City Americans the first team you think of when someone mentions major junior hockey? Maybe not. They’ve played in the Western Hockey League for more than 20 years and don’t have a WHL title – or a Memorial Cup – to show for it.
But that doesn’t mean that the Americans aren’t an important part of the sport – or that they don’t have a fascinating history.
Tri-City Americans Thru the Years
After the franchise bounced around various cities in Western Canada and the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, it settled in the Tri Cities area in Washington that encompasses Kennewick, Pasco Richland in 1988.
It took many seasons for Tri-Cities to establish itself as a WHL contender but the Americans have enjoyed their best success in recent seasons, winning the U.S. Division three straight times from 2007 to 2009.
The Americans have a few fascinating distinctions. Goaltender Olaf Kolzig, now a partial owner, became the first WHL goalie to score a goal in 1989.
During the 2002-03 season, goaltender Shannon Szabados became the first female player to play in the WHL when she played a game for the Americans at age 16.
Among the Americans’ most famous NHL alumni: Kolzig, Scott Gomez, Stu Barnes, Daymond Langkow, Sheldon Souray and Brian Boucher, just to name a few.
Things are looking up for Tri-City. In its early seasons, it made its reputation for being a great rival to Spokane and a progressive –thinking franchise.
Now, the Americans are gaining clout as a WHL powerhouse.