Kennewick, WA- What looked to be an offensive showdown after the first period, turned into a goaltending duel, as Jessey Astles scored the only shootout goal to give the Tri-City Americans (7-8-0-1 15 pts) a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds (9-3-0-1 19 pts.) Friday night at the Toyota Center.
With the victory, the Americans have won three of its last four games and tied the season series with the Thunderbirds at two games apiece. In the first four meetings, each team has earned a regulation and shootout victory.
The game got off to a fast start, when Lucas Nickles was slashed on a breakaway just 1:20 into the game, leading to the Americans second penalty shot of the season. The Salmon Arm, B.C. native made no mistake with the opportunity, snapping the puck past Danny Mumaugh stick side for his fifth goal of the season.
The Thunderbirds showed off its quick strike capability, scoring twice in a span of 1:35, to grab hold of the early first period lead. Two breakaways led to two Seattle goals, as Eric Comrie made the original saves on both opportunities, but the Thunderbirds would score on the scramble that ensued.
Good late period pressure drew two consecutive Seattle penalties, and with just ten seconds left in the first period, the Americans cashed in with Beau McCue’s sixth score of the season.
The second period was all about special teams, as Seattle and Tri-City combined for 32 penalty minutes and six power plays in the middle frame. Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities with the man advantage and on the penalty kill, but the two goaltenders stood their ground.
The Americans came out firing in the third, carrying the play in the early stages of the period. Tri-City narrowly missed on several occasions to score the go ahead goal, but Mumaugh kept the game locked.
With two penalties in the final eight minutes of regulation and the first 30 seconds of overtime, Eric Comrie and the Americans penalty killing unit was forced to come up big again.
Once back to full strength in the overtime period, Tri-City went back on the offense, outshooting the Thunderbirds 4-2 in the extra frame, but still were unable to break the tie after 65 minutes of play.
Astles gave the Americans the early lead in the shootout, scoring on the very first shot and Comrie took care of the rest, shutting the Thunderbirds out in the Shootout to give the Americans the 3-2 victory.
The Americans outshot the Thunderbirds 44-33 in the game, with Comrie and Mumaugh making 31 and 41 saves respectfully.
The Americans wrap up its five-game home stand tomorrow night, when it takes on the Brandon Wheat Kings (7-6-0-0 14 pts.) for the first and only meeting of the season. The puck drops from the Toyota Center at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer locations, or online at ticketmaster.com.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
2) Danny Mumaugh, Seattle
3) Lucas Nickles, Tri-City