Kennewick, WA- Behind three first period goals, the Tri-City Americans (16-12-1-2, 35 pts.) jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, defeating the Saskatoon Blades (10-18-1-2, 23 pts.) 3-1 Tuesday night at the Toyota Center.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Blades featured the league’s top power play unit, scoring on 29.3 percent of its man advantage opportunities. But, it was the Americans’ special teams unit who displayed the scoring touch, going two-for-four on the power play, while holding Saskatoon scoreless on its three opportunities. It was the fifth straight game that Tri-City has registered at least one power play goal.
Eric Comrie turned in another strong performance, allowing one goal on 26 shots. The 18-year-old now holds the WHL’s second best save percentage at 0.926 along with a goals against average of 2.41 in 26 games this season.
The Americans opened the scoring at 5:47 of the first period, when a Graeme Craig roughing penalty gave the Americans its first man advantage of the game. Taylor Vickerman took the pass from Phil Tot and snapped the puck past Alex Moodie, giving Tri-City an early 1-0 lead. The goal was Vickerman’s first since returning to the lineup after missing 25 games with an upper body injury. The Americans added another power play goal later in the period after Connor Rankin found the back of the net at the 17:51 mark.
Following Rankins’ goal, Alex Moodie was replaced by former Tri-City net minder, Troy Trombley, at 17:51 after allowing the second goal of the night. It was the 6’6” goaltender’s first time at the Toyota Center since being traded to the Blades on September 17. But, with just 0.5 seconds left on the clock, Beau McCue gave the Americans a three-goal lead chipping the puck past his former teammate.
The Americans looked to hand the Blades a knockout blow in the second period, pressing for its fourth goal of the evening. But, after a long shift in the offensive zone, the Americans turned the puck over and the Blades’ Logan Harland took the pass from Graham Millar on a 2-on-1 and one timed it over Eric Comrie’s shoulder, putting Saskatoon right back in the game at 3-1.
With a few dangerous looking plays in the first few minutes, the Blades came out in the third period looking to close the gap. But, tight defense and strong goaltending kept the Americans’ lead intact for the remainder of the game.
The Americans will now hit the road for a pair of games against the Prince George Cougars (11-16-1-3, 26 pts.) this Friday and Saturday night at the CN Centre. Both games faceoff at 7 p.m. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Connor Rankin, Tri-City
2) Phil Tot, Tri-City
3) Marcus Messier, Tri-City