The Tri-City Americans, Western Hockey League members, are a team based in Kennewick, Washington. Being part of the league’s Western Conference, the Tri-City Americans compete against both American and Canadian teams. The team was founded in 1988 and plays its home games at the Toyota Centre stadium in Kennewick. Coached by Bob Nachbaur and managed by Bob Tory, the Americans take to the field in a uniform of navy blue, red, silver & cream. A major junior hockey team, the Tri-City Americans, and the Western Hockey League’s other teams play regular fixtures on both sides of the border.
Tri City Americans Origin
The franchise that is Tri-City Americans is a Western Hockey League original franchise. Their origins go back to the year 1966 when they were founded, under the name of the Calgary Buffaloes. After one season, they renamed the Centennials.
From 1977 they were known as the Billings Bighorns, up until 1982 when they moved to Nanaimo in British Columbia to become the Nanaimo Islanders. A single season later, they once again relocated, this time to British Columbia and the city of New Westminster. Here they were the second team to take the name of the New Westminster Bruins. Finally, they moved to Washington State. They now represent the three (or four, depending on who you talk to) cities of the Tri-Cities area. The cities comprise Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and often the fourth city of West Richland. The Tri-City Americans, the Western Hockey League’s one of only a handful of American teams, nonetheless play all their home matches in Kennewick, at the aforementioned Toyota Centre.
2004 New Ownership
In 2004, the Tri-City Americans were sold to locals of the Tri-Cities area. These native inhabitants include Stu Barnes of the Dallas Stars and Olaf Kolzig, goalie for the Washington Capitals. Both these men are erstwhile Tri-City American team members. The team has been enjoying increased popular support and morale since its sale to the city. The fiercest rival, or nemesis even, of the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League, is the team from Spokane, the Chiefs. This speaks of the American’s quality given that Spokane is the second largest city in the state and the Tri-Cities area has a combined total of only around 164,000 residents. The two teams, the Tri-City Americans and the Spokane Chiefs, have a tradition of playing a fiercely competitive match on New Year’s Eve in Kennewick.
Shannon Szabados, League's First Female Player
Another fact worthy of mention is that during the Tri-City American’s 2002 to 2003 season, they were the first team to field an entirely different type of player. Shannon Szabados, a sixteen-year-old goalie for the Tri-City Americans is the Western Hockey League’s first female player. She has thus far played one game for the Tri-City Americans. The Western Hockey League was established in 1966 and incorporates 21 teams so you might think a female player would have come along sooner. Originally known as the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, it was later renamed the Western Canada Hockey League. Of course, with the inclusion of the Chiefs, the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Everett Silvertips, the Portland Winter Hawks, and of course the Tri-Cities Americans, “Western Hockey League,” the current name, makes far more sense. Colloquially the league is often referred to as the “dub.”