Kennewick, WA. – The Tri-City Americans (17-15-1-2, 37 pts.) fell behind early, surrendering two first period goals, and never managed to rebound as the Prince George Cougars (13-17-2-3, 31 pts.) skated away with the 5-1 win in the annual Teddy Bear Toss game on Friday night.
2,511 stuffed animals were collected at the Toyota Center, which will now be distributed to charities across the Mid-Columbia.
Tri-City’s line-up on Friday featured an average age of 17.60, including having all three overages in the stands, as the roster continues to be withered by mid-season injuries. The loss brought the Americans’ home record to 11-7-0-0 on the season, as it approaches the halfway point.
The Cougars opened the scoring at 4:48 after a failed clearing opportunity by the Americans gave the Cougars an extra scoring chance. Todd Fiddler made the most of it, beating Eric Comrie with a high slap shot.
Tri-City quickly swung momentum back in its favor, narrowly missing on several scoring chances. However, a too-many-men penalty would cost them, as the Cougars scored 10 seconds into the man advantage on Klarc Wilson’s ninth goal of the year.
The Americans had a chance to cut into Prince George’s lead late in the first period when Lucas Nickles was sprung for a shorthanded breakaway opportunity by Marcus Messier. But, the 19-year-old was denied by the right pad of Ty Edmonds.
At 1:31 of the second period, Connor Rankin scored on his own rebound, cutting the Cougars’ lead to just one and sending the bears flying down onto the Toyota Center ice.
After Rankin’s goal, the Americans started to shift momentum its way. But at 4:10, Justin Gutierrez and Brian Williams took minor penalties on the same play, giving the Cougars a 5-on-3 power play. Just 34 seconds into the man advantage, Fiddler found the loose puck in the crease before Comrie could freeze it for his second goal of the evening. Prince George would extend its lead to three goals before the period was over, getting a goal from Jansen Harkins at the 7:30 mark.
Tri-City began the third period with the man advantage, looking to get back in the game. But, the power play unit was unable to beat Edmonds. The best chance the Americans had to get within two goals was a penalty shot awarded to Messier at 11:31. But, Edmonds was able to make the save.
Aaron Macklin would add a late goal on the power to give the Cougars a 5-1 edge. The Cougars went 3-for-6 on the man advantage, holding the Americans scoreless in its four opportunities.
The Americans will conclude the first half of its regular season schedule Tuesday night, when it visits the Seattle Thunderbirds (21-13-0-1, 43 pts.) in the last game before the WHL takes its holiday break. 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) Todd Fiddler, Prince George
2) Klarc Wilson, Prince George
3) Connor Rankin, Tri-City