Rankin, Owsley Highlight Americans’ 6-3 Win Over Warriors

By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans

MOOSE JAW, SK – For the Tri-City Americans, if there has been an oasis among the hostile buildings out east, it has been inside the oddly-shaped confines of Civic Centre.  And, in their final trip to the ‘Crushed Can,’ the Americans added one more victory to their list.

Backed by Connor Rankin’s two goals and an effective power play, the Tri-City Americans (7-2-1-0, 15 pts) fought off the Moose Jaw Warriors (2-7-0-0, 4 pts) 6-3 in front of 2,610 fans on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.  The win bumped the Americans’ record to 3-2 on their trip through the East Division and ensured a second straight .500-season against their Eastern Conference counterparts.  And, with four straight wins at ‘The Can’, the win improved Tri-City’s all-time record at Civic Centre to 20-9-1-0 with 5 ties, by far their best road record against any East Division opponent.  Meanwhile, the Warriors have now dropped three straight games and their fifth consecutive contest to the Americans.

In a back-and-forth contest, it was Tri-City that struck first.  Two minutes after Drew Owsley robbed Quinton Howden to keep it scoreless; Adam Hughesman notched his team-leading seventh goal of the season.  On a delayed Warriors’ penalty, Hughesman sent a drive on from the mid-point that found its way between the pads of Moose Jaw goaltender Thomas Heemskerk, giving Tri-City the 1-0 lead.

However, less than two minutes later, the Warriors responded.  Sam Fioretti sent a nifty, behind-the-back pass out of the right corner to Nathan MacMaster, who was set-up back door on Owsley.  MacMaster then lifted the puck into the net and tied the game at 1.

Still knotted at 1 midway through the second period, the Americans registered their first of three power play goals in the game.   Camped in front of Heemskerk, Rankin put back a Brock Sutherland rebound for his first of two goals in the contest.  Then, three minutes later, and in deep in the Moose Jaw end, Tanner Olstad hustled to keep a bouncing puck from clearing the zone and then fed it Drydn Dow at the point.  Heemskerk made the save on Dow’s shot, but could do nothing with Mike Brown’s put back which made it a 3-1 game.

But, the Warriors again answered quickly, as Michal Hlinka redirected a Collin Bowman shot from the right point.  It was the first of two Moose Jaw goals that eventually saw the Warriors knot the game at 3 with 12:50 left in regulation.  On a great individual play, Howden fought past David Conrad and beat Owsley to even the game.

The Americans, though, recorded two more power play goals as part of a three-goal, seven-minute stretch to cap the scoring.  Just past the midway point of the period, and during a long scramble in front of Heemskerk, the puck eventually ended up on the stick of Rankin.  Rankin then swept a backhander past Heemskerk at the near post, which was later reviewed and upheld, to give Tri-City the lead for good.

With 4:40 left in regulation and on the power play, Patrick Holland tipped in Tyler Schmidt’s shot from the left point, making it a 5-3 game.  Then, with two minutes remaining, and while tempting to set-up Rankin for the hat trick, Jordan Messier’s pass deflected off a Warriors defender and past a surprised Heemskerk to round out the scoring.

It was a rough night for the former Everett Silvertips goaltender, as Heemskerk finished with 31 saves on 37 shots in the loss.  Meanwhile, Owsley won his fifth game of the season behind a 33-save, first-star effort.  The Americans finished the night 3-for-4 on the power play and were a perfect 4-of-4 on the penalty kill.  The Tri-City special teams have now recorded at least one power play goal in their last six games, while limiting their opponents to just two power play goals over their previous five games.

The final stop on the Americans’ seven-game, 12-day road trip is set for Wednesday, October 13 against the Swift Current Broncos (3-6-0-0).  Game time is 6:00 pm at the Credit Union i-Plex.  The Americans will be looking to match their season-high 4-game winning streak while also trying to match last season’s record of 4-2 vs. the East Division.  Meanwhile, the Broncos, a 1-0 shootout winner over Kootenay on Monday, comes in having won two of their last three but have dropped four straight games to Tri-City.  Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL WebTV, at the Americans’ home away from home, Kimo’s Sports Café in Richland.  The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 5:45 pm (PST).

Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Drew Owsley, Tri-City
2, Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw
3, Connor Rankin, Tri-City

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