Kennewick, WA- First period goals by Braden Purtill and Mitch Topping helped the Tri-City Americans (4-5-0-1 9 pts.) jump out early to an early lead, defeating the Kamloops Blazers (2-6-0-0 4 pts.) 4-1 Friday night at the Toyota Center.
It was the first goal of Purtill’s WHL career and the first of the season for Topping. With the victory, the Americans recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Just as it did in Kamloops on Tuesday, the Americans opened the scoring early against the Blazers. After winning a puck battle in the corner, Rodney Southam found Purtill going to the net and the rookie outwaited Bolton Pouliot, scoring with a beautiful backhand shot. The assist was also Southam’s first WHL point.
Topping added to the Americans lead at 16:11 of the first period, scoring on Tri-City’s first power play opportunity of the game. The Americans’ Captain took the pass from Connor Rankin and beat the Blazer defender with a fake slap shot. Once in the clear, Topping snapped a wrist shot past the Kamloops goaltender. The Blazers had several great scoring chances in the first period, but could not beat Eric Comrie.
Tri-City began the second period of play with a golden opportunity to extend its lead. Already on the power play, Ryan Rehill went off for slashing 29 seconds into the period. However, the Americans were unable to produce any offense with the two man advantage.
It wasn’t until 13:12 of the second period, that Tri-City scored its third goal. Lucas Nickles took the puck to the net and fed Rankin for his fourth goal of the season. The Americans took the 3-0 into the dressing room after 40 minutes of play.
The Blazers found some life in the third period, with Chase Souto cutting the Tri-City lead to two goals. Souto fired a hard wrist shot from the faceoff circle, as Comrie got a piece of it, but the puck bounced off of his shoulder and into the back of the net.
Kamloops pushed hard for a second goal over the next several minutes, but as he has done all year, Comrie shut the door for the Americans. Justin Gutierrez added an empty netter with just over a minute left in the game to seal the 4-1 victory.
Tri-City outshot the Blazers in every period of the game, finishing with a 40-27 advantage in the category. Comrie steered aside all but one of the Blazers’ shots, finishing with 26 saves. The Tri-City net minder dropped his GAA down to 2.35 on the season. Pouliot made 36 saves in a losing effort for the Blazers.
Tri-City will be back on the road tomorrow night, when it takes on the Seattle Thunderbirds (7-2-0-0 14 pts.) at the Showare Center for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. The Americans will then play one more game on the road before returning the Kennewick for a five game home stand, starting next Friday at 7:05 p.m. against the Victoria Royals.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Connor Rankin, Tri-City
2) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
3) Braden Purtill, Tri-City