Kennewick, WA- Connor Rankin, Parker Bowles and Brian Williams were skating on a different level tonight.
The trio combined for five goals and six assists, helping the Tri-City Americans (40-24-1-2, 83 pts) outlast the Kootenay Ice (33-32-2-0, 68 pts) 6-4 in front of an electric crowd of 5,686 at the Toyota Center.
Tri-City won its 40th game of the season. It is the seventh season in a row the Americans have won 40 games, which ties a WHL record for the most consecutive 40 win seasons.
The Americans have won three in a row overall against Kootenay and the last four games at home against Kootenay.
Kootenay was able to get on the board first. A loose puck scooted across the crease on the power play and Collin Shirley was able to lift the puck over the outstretched stick of Troy Trombley to make it 1-0 early. Midway through the period, the Ice took a 2-0 lead as Brock Montgomery flipped a backhand shot under the glove of Trombley. In an instant, the Americans came back and tied the game. Parker Bowles threw the puck in front of the net, bouncing the puck off of Kootenay’s Jagger Dirk and into the net to cut the lead to one 10 seconds after Kootenay increased the lead to two. Six seconds later, Tri-City tied the game as Brian Williams fired a laser from the left faceoff circle past Kootenay goaltender Mackenzie Skapski. The Ice outshot the Americans 17-9 in the period, but the game was tied heading into the second period.
It only took 47 seconds for the Ice to regain the lead in the second. Jaedon Descheneau dropped off a slick pass to Sam Reinhart, firing a shot top shelf to make it 3-2 Kootenay. Midway through the period, the Americans tied the game once again as Connor Rankin scored to even the game at three. Tri-City outshot Kootenay 12-9 in the period and gained some momentum heading into the third period.
Tri-City gained its first lead of the game 17 seconds into the third as Marcus Messier found the back of the net to make it 4-3. The Americans earned a two goal lead with just over five minutes left in the game. Connor Rankin picked up the puck below the left faceoff circle and skated toward the net, slipping the puck underneath Skapski’s pads to make it 5-3. The Ice cut the lead to one with time winding down as Descheneau scored to make it 5-4. But the Americans wouldn’t allow Kootenay to get any closer as Rankin completed his hat-trick, firing the puck into an empty net to send the hats flying onto the ice and cap the win.
Tri-City killed off 1-of-2 Kootenay power play chances while the Ice had no penalties.
Seven different players recorded a point for the Americans, including three with multi-point games. Rankin recorded his second career hat trick and first career five point night.
Trombley stopped 33 shots in the win while Skapski made 25 saves in the loss.
The Americans will come back to the Toyota Center tomorrow night to take on the Prince George Cougars (20-38-2-6, 48 pts) for the final game between the two teams this season. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. Tri-City has won two of three against Prince George but lost the most recent meeting 3-0 in Prince George on Tuesday. This will be the third game in six days between the Americans and Cougars. NewsTalk 870 will broadcast the game starting at 6:45 p.m. with the pregame show. WHL Live will stream the game online beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Toyota Center Box Office, and Fred Meyer outlet, at any Ticketmaster location or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Connor Rankin, Tri-City
2. Brian Williams, Tri-City
3. Parker Bowles, Tri-City