The Tri-City Americans' stay in sole possession of first place didn't last long, as the Spokane Chiefs defeated the Americans 2-1 Saturday to move into the top spot in the Western Hockey League's U.S. Division.

After a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday, the Americans jumped a point in front of the Chiefs, who fell to Kootenay 4-1, only to see Spokane leapfrog into first the following night.

Against Seattle the Americans took a 3-1 lead in the third period on Dan Ehrman's second goal of the season before Seattle rallied back with two goals in a span of just over four minutes to earn the tie. Seattle outshot the Americans 38-23.

The Americans got on the board first against Spokane, as Ian McDonald scored his first goal of the season, but two Spokane power-play goals proved to be the difference in the game.

The Americans are 12-12-5-1 heading into Friday's game at Kootenay.

Schedule: The Americans end their five-game road trip Friday and return home Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. start against Everett. The game will feature the Americans' annual "Teddy Bear Toss" as all fans are encouraged to bring a new stuffed toy to toss on the ice when Tri-Cities score their first goal of the game. All toys will be donated to the less fortunate in the Mid-Columbia for the holidays.

Notes: The first rankings from the National Hockey League's Central Scouting Bureau were released and Tri-City American defensemen Logan Stephenson and Brett Festerling were listed in the top 25 prospects from the Western Hockey League for the upcoming June 2004 NHL entry draft. Stephenson was ranked 23rd, while Festerling checked in 25th.

"We are pleased with the progress of both players and look forward to their continued growth along with our improving hockey club throughout the season," Americans general manger Bob Tory said.

Defenseman Shawn Belle has been named to try out for the Canadian National World Junior team. The tryouts will be held in Kitchener, Ontario from Dec. 11-18. The tournament is Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Helsinki, Finland.

"We are all proud of Shawn and his accomplishments and his history with Team Canada with the under-17 and under-18 teams," Tory said. "On behalf of the entire organization we wish him all the best in his attempts to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships."

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