Kennewick, WA- Tri-City had the daunting task of taking on the best team in the league coming off of the winter break.
In a valiant effort, the Tri-City Americans (20-13-1-2, 43 pts) came up just short, as the Portland Winterhawks (30-5-1-0, 61 pts) earned their third victory of the season in front of 5,335 at the Toyota Center.
Portland has won nine of ten in the month of December and is on a seven game winning streak. The Americans dropped their fourth straight game at home.
The first period was even with Tri-City outshooting Portland in the first part of the period. The first opportunity came 10:40 into the first as Brandan Leipsic got tripped on a breakaway, and was awarded a penalty shot. Eric Comrie stood strong in the net and stopped Leipsic with the blocker to keep the game scoreless. Portland would get on the board first though, as Taylor Peters bounced a puck off of a defender into the Americans net on the power play to make it 1-0. The lead would increase to two as Kirill Vorobev would score his first WHL goal by putting home a rebound late in the period. Tri-City outshot Portland 17-13 in the period, but it was the Winterhawks that capitalized on their chances in the first.
The Americans came out and scored early in the second period as Connor Rankin picked up a rebound and scored to make it 2-1. But an Americans turnover off the faceoff allowed Taylor Leier to flip a backhand into the Americans goal 10 seconds later to make the lead two again. Portland would capitalize on a power play later in the period as Oliver Bjorkstrand would score on the power play to make it 4-1 Winterhawks. Justin Feser would cut into the lead late in the period by deflecting a Mitch Topping shot into the net on the power play. Portland outshot Tri-City 15-13 in the period and carried the lead into the third.
The Americans fought to get back into the game in the third period, with Comrie making some big saves to keep the Americans in the game. Tri-City would finally breakthrough in the period as Justin Feser would put home a rebound chance for his second power play goal of the game to cut the lead to 4-3 with 3:14 left in the game. Tri-City ferociously tried to tie the game, but Brendan Burke held strong in his crease and allowed the Winterhawks to escape with a 4-3 win.
With two goals tonight, Feser passed Brendan Shinnimin and tied Brian Sakic for fifth on the Americans all-time goals list with 132. He also tied Kruise Reddick for seventh on the Americans all-time games played list with 315.
Comrie made 34 saves in the loss, while Burke made 43 saves in the win.
Tri-City will play the second game of the home-and-home tomorrow as they take on the Portland Winterhawks in Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Game time is at 3:00 p.m. Tri-City has a win and a lost in Portland, the most recent a 3-2 Tri-City win in the Rose Garden earlier this month. NewsTalk 870 will broadcast the game beginning at 2:45 p.m. with the pregame show. WHL Live will stream the game starting at 3:00 p.m.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Taylor Peters, Portland
2. Justin Feser, Tri-City
3. Brendan Burke, Portland