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Americans Rally Past T’birds; Win 5-4 in a Shootout

By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans

KENT, WA – With plenty of excuses at their disposal, the Americans continue to refuse to use any of them.

Playing their league-leading 11th game away from home, and with a shrinking bench, the Tri-City Americans (10-4-1-0, 21 pts) fought back four separate times, eventually winning 5-4 in a shootout over the Seattle Thunderbirds (5-2-1-2, 13 pts) in front of 3,045 fans at ShoWare Center.  With the win, the Americans improved to 6-4-1-0 on the road this season, while also taking their first two meetings with Seattle this season.  Tri-City also improved to 5-1 all-time against the T’birds in the shootout, including a perfect 4-0 record at ShoWare Center.  Meanwhile, Seattle has now dropped seven of their last eight meetings with the Americans including their previous three.

At the midway point of the first period, the struggling T’birds offense got things started when Marcel Noebels notched his third goal of the season.

But, in what proved to be a recurring theme Tuesday, Tri-City had an answer for Seattle’s tally.  Just 3:22 after Noebels’ goal, Justin Feser picked off an errant Seattle pass at neutral ice and then broke out Jordan Messier.  Messier skated out into the high slot then shelved a shot over Calvin Pickard’s blocker to knot the game at 1.

Penalties, though, would haunt Tri-City in the second period, as the T’birds counted on two of their three power play chances in the period.  At the 6:20 mark, and on their first man-advantage, Noebels found Luke Lockhart backdoor on Drew Owsley, who then recorded his first of two goals on the night.

With 2:29 remaining in the period, and on a power play of their own, Adam Hughesman set-up Zachary Yuen at the near post, beating Pickard to tie the game at 2.

But, with less than two minutes remaining, Sam Grist took a charging penalty that put Seattle’s power play back on the ice.  Then, just 30 seconds into the third period, and with 12 seconds remaining on the Grist penalty, Burke Gallimore saw his pass ricochet off an Americans’ skate and end up in the slot.  From there, Lockhart was able to beat Owsley up top, putting Seattle back on top by one.

Nearly three minutes later, Tri-City responded again, this time off the stick of Mason Wilgosh.  Tyler Schmidt sent a shot in from the corner that was kicked out by Pickard.  But, the rebound wound up in the slot, where Wilgosh was able to bang it into the net on his second effort.

With 9:30 left in regulation, and back on the power play, Burke Gallimore fired a shot from the left circle that found daylight over Owsley’s glove, giving Seattle the lead one more time.  However, with six minutes remaining in regulation, Feser and Patrick Holland caught Seattle in a bad line change and took off on a 2-on-1 breakaway.  With Pickard committed to him, Holland sent the puck across to Feser, who counted into a near empty net and sent the game into overtime.

Before the contest ever reached the shootout, both teams nearly came away with the win in the five-minute extra-session.  With just over a minute remaining in overtime, Messier redirected a Schmidt shot past Pickard but off the post.  Then, with only a few seconds remaining, Charles Wells brought the puck up the ice for Seattle, then tried to stuff the puck past Owsley as the horn sounded.

In the shootout, Hughesman’s first round shot was swallowed up in the pads of Pickard following Gallimore’s attempt that rang off the cross bar.  Then, in round two, both Noebels and Holland scored to set the stage in round three.  Lockhart’s chance went high over the net, giving Feser the chance to end the game.  And end it he did, as he flicked a backhander low on Pickard’s blocker side to give Tri-City their first and only lead of the game.

Owsley finished the game with 29 saves on 33 shots and then stopped two of three attempts in the shootout for the win.  Meanwhile, Pickard notched 30 saves on 34 shots through regulation in his first shootout loss of the season.  Seattle’s #2-ranked power play finished 3-for-4 on the man-advantage, while Tri-City went 1-for-2.

Tri-City will now turn their attention to another divisional foe, the Everett Silvertips (5-4-1-2), when they head to Comcast Arena on Friday, October 29.  Game time is 7:35 p.m. in the first meeting of the season between the two rivals.  The Americans took the eight-game season series last season 5-2-0-1, but the last four contests were all one-goal affairs including two shootouts.  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 7:20 p.m.

Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Luke Lockhart, Seattle
2, Marcel Noebels, Seattle
3, Tyler Schmidt, Tri-City

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