Rankin Caps Americans’ 4-3 Rally Over Rockets
By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans
KELOWNA, BC – If the Americans are going to spend the next few weeks on the road, they set a good foundation Wednesday night.
Patrick Holland scored twice and rookie Connor Rankin’s first WHL goal won the game, as the Tri-City Americans (3-0-0-0, 6 pts) came back to defeat the Kelowna Rockets (0-2-0-0, 0 pts) 4-3 in front of 6,026 at Prospera Place. With the win, the Americans picked up their first road victory of the year and improved to 3-0 to start a season for just the third time in the franchise’s 23-year history.
Playing inside the always-hostile home of the Rockets, Tri-City got that important first goal early into the contest. Just over five minutes into the game, and on the power play, Adam Hughesman was there to clean-up a Brock Sutherland shot that rang off the post and put the Americans on top 1-0.
But, nine minutes later, Kelowna’s Brett Bulmer slipped the puck between the pads of Drew Owsley, tying the game at 1 headed into the first intermission.
Then, just 4:15 into the second period, the Rockets took their first lead of the contest. An aggressive play by Spencer Main forced a turnover deep in the Tri-City zone. Colton Sissons was there to corral the loose puck, then sent a cross-ice pass to Evan Bloodoff. From the right circle, Bloodoff fired a one-timer past Owsley for the 2-1 Kelowna lead.
However, two minutes later, and back on the power play, Rockets’ goaltender Adam Brown was there to kick out Rankin’s shot. However, the rebound went straight to Holland, who was parked back door at the far post, and slammed the puck into the net to knot the game at 2.
But, late into the period, Tri-City took two costly penalties 20 seconds apart, setting up a Rockets 5-on-3 power play for 1:40. Sensing the magnitude of the moment, Kelowna coach Ryan Huska took his only timeout to rally his players. The move paid off 34 seconds into the 5-on-3. During a scramble in front of the net, Owsley thought he had control of Andreas Stene shot. But, the puck rolled out and sat in the crease where Antoine Corbin was there to tip it across the goal line.
A melee with eight seconds remaining in the second period, however, set the stage for a wild third period. A total of 102 penalty minutes were doled out between 10 different players, eight of which would miss at least the next 10 minutes of play. When the dust settled, Tri-City took a power play into the first 1:52 of the third period.
Already on the power play when the third period started, Tri-City received a 50-second 5-on-3 man-advantage of their own, but could not come away with the equalizer. However, at the 4:53 mark and moments after he shot one off the crossbar, Brendan Shinnimin set-up Holland from the slot, who ripped a shot past Brown and tied the game at 3-all.
Two minutes later, Sutherland broke out Kruise Reddick who, along with Rankin, skated into the Rockets zone as part of a 2-on-1. Reddick dished the puck to Rankin, whose wrist shot alluded Brown and gave the Americans a 4-3 lead. Huska then pulled Brown in the final minute of play, but Kelowna could not extend the game while the Americans held on for the victory.
Owsley finished the night with 26 saves on 29 shots in the win. Meanwhile, Brown collected 25 of the 29 shots he faced in the loss. Tri-City went 2-for-7 on the power play, while Kelowna was 1-for-6 on the man-advantage.
The conference rivals will lock horns again on Friday, October 1, this time at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. Game time is 7:05 pm. The Rockets, who have not won in Kennewick since February 25, 2006, have now lost five straight regular season games to Tri-City. Meanwhile, the Americans will look to join the 2007-08 squad as the only team ever to start a season 4-0. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be aired live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 pm.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brock Sutherland, Tri-City
2, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
3, Patrick Holland, Tri-City