Imagine being thrown into a Western Hockey League game, especially if you've never been in one. Now imagine facing the hottest team in the Central Division. (Photo shows Tri-Citians Kaiser, and Taylor Vickerman in action together)

Casey Kaiser, who's recently played for the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey league, found himself between the pipes of the Tri-City Americans Saturday night. Kaiser, who hails from Richland, had been working and practicing with the Americans since early February after an injury to backup Evan Sarthou.  Sarthou is believed to be lost for the season due to his injury, and Kaiser was brought in as insurance behind starter Eric Comrie.

Kaiser was in the Americans rookie camp in 2011-12, but didn't make the team. He has also played for the Tri-City Outlaws of the NORPAC (Northern Pacific) Hockey League. Neither he, nor anyone else, really expected him to see any action. But Comrie aggravated some nagging injuries in the Friday night shootout win over Everett, and Kaiser was tapped to go Saturday vs. Calgary.

Kaiser did an admirable job, holding the Hitmen off the scoreboard by stopping the first 19 shots he faced. The Hitmen scored with seconds left in the first period, but Kaiser battled the rest of the way, making 48 saves on 55 tries in a 7-2 loss. That effort was not lost upon local media who vote for the nightly 3 Star Awards, and he was given 3rd Star honors, and a great round of applause from the fans.

Unlike many other sports, who can go on the waiver wire and claim players to help them with injuries, such as the NFL often does with quarterbacks, in the WHL, you play the hand you're given. But teams are allowed to sign an emergency goalie if both tenders are injured. Tri-City has had other emergency goalies on the bench, but this was the first time the Americans have ever had to use theirs in an actual game.

Part of the reason for the high Calgary shot total was the Americans are facing injuries to just about every position. Standout defensemen Brandon Carlo, Dylan Coghlan and Carter Cochrane are out, and forwards Parker Bowles and Richlard Nejezchleb also injured as is Braden Purtill.  The Ams have even had to ask some of their forwards to help on out defense, and the injuries have shuffled everything including their power play.

They'll be the first to say injuries are no excuse, but the players lost this season, and this week,  impact the team greatly.

No word was available on Comrie's status for Tuesday's game vs. Portland.  It is possible Kaiser will be again called on to defend the goal for the Americans.  He became only the second Tri-City native to start a WHL regular season or playoff game for the Ams, the other being Kennewick's Taylor Vickerman who joined the team after a trade with Vancouver.

The Americans will continue their battle for a playoff berth Tuesday when they take on the Portland Winterhawks at the Toyota Center at 7:05pm.  It's a Two-for-Tuesday night, call the Americans at (509)-736-0606 for special 2 for 1 ticket information.