Kennewick, WA. – The Tri-City Americans’ (18-18-2-2, 40 pts.) offense came alive on Friday night, as the team got goals from five different players on its way to a 5-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks (25-11-2-2, 54 pts.), snapping its seven-game losing streak.
After falling below the mark for the first time since early November this past Tuesday, the win brings the team’s record back to .500. The Americans are now 3-3-1-0 against the Winterhawks, with three more meetings remaining this season.
The five-goal outburst tied for the third highest offensive production the Americans have had this season as well as matched the team’s highest goal total at the Toyota Center. Eric Comrie held a high powered Portland team in check, limiting the Winterhawks to just a single goal on 38 shots. Brendan Burke got the start for Portland, allowing three goals on 15 shots. Jarrod Schamerhorn replaced Burke at the 1:28 mark of the third period, making 14 saves in relief.
The Americans capitalized on a Steven Alldridge tripping penalty at 5:38 of the first period, as Phil Tot scored on the ensuing power play. The 20-year-old took the centering feed from Lucas Nickles and beat Burke, giving the Americans the early 1-0 advantage.
At 10:44 of the second period, Lucas Nickles added to the Americans’ lead, dangling through the Winterhawks’ defense, then sliding the puck past Burke to put the Americans up 2-0. Then, at 15:02, Jordan Davies wristed the puck past Burke for his first career WHL goal.
With 2:01 remaining in the middle frame, a Marcus Messier tripping penalty gave the Winterhawks a chance to cut into the Americans lead. But, Comrie and the Tri-City penalty killers held strong, taking the 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
Beau McCue’s 11th goal of the season, 3:58 into the third period, all but stopped any hope the Winterhawks had at a third period comeback, with the one-time finish off of a Taylor Vickerman centering feed. Then, less than three minutes later, Brian Williams found the goal column for the third time in as many games, corralling Rodney Southam’s lead pass and scoring on a partial breakaway for his 23rd goal of the season.
Up 5-0, and with Davies and Nickles in the penalty box, the Americans killed off 55 seconds of a 5-on-3. But, at 12:46, Chase De Leo carried the puck out of the corner and backhanded the puck past Comrie for the Winterhawks’ first and only goal of the night.
The true rivalry between the two teams revealed itself in the final 6:11 of the game, with the teams combining for 24 penalty minutes during that time. But the rough stuff would be all that the last few minutes would yield.
The Americans will now travel north of the border to take on the Vancouver Giants (19-14-5-2, 45 pts.) this Sunday for 5:05 p.m. faceoff at Pacific Coliseum. 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) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
2) Lucas Nickles, Tri-City
3) Phil Tot, Tri-City