Kennewick, WA- The Tri-City Americans (14-11-0-2, 30 pts.) struggled to get its offense going, getting outshot 46-19 in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Kelowna Rockets (17-3-0-2, 36 pts.) Friday night at the Toyota Center.
The loss snapped the Americans six-game winning streak at home, dating back to the 4-1 victory against the Swift Current Broncos on October 22.
Evan Sarthou, who was making consecutive starts for the first time in his WHL career, allowed three goals on 45 shots. The 16-year-old net minder has a 2.25 goals against and a 0.933 save percentage in six appearances for the Americans.
Teams played to a scoreless tie until Wil Tomchuk’s penalty at 9:15 put the Americans a man short for the first time. Tri-City managed to kill the penalty, but Rourke Chartier deflected Damon Severson’s shot through the legs of Sarthou to give Kelowna a 1-0 lead before Tomchuk had time to get back in the play. Madison Bowey extended the Rockets lead 1:14 later scoring on the rebound after Sarthou had made the original save.
Sarthou kept his team in the game throughout the second period making numerous big stops to keep the score at 2-0. The Rockets outshot the Americans 15-4 in the middle frame but the Kelowna’s lead was just two goals after 40 minutes of play.
Tri-City had an opportunity to cut the Rockets’ lead in half just minutes into the final period, but the Americans fast break was denied by Jordon Cooke. Bowey gave Kelowna a 3-0 lead at the 5: 27 mark of the third period for his second goal of the game.
After Colton Heffley took a high sticking penalty at 12:15, head coach Jim Hiller made a strategic move in an effort to get his team back in the game, by pulling his goaltender to give the Americans a 6-4 man advantage. However, the move would back on the Americans when Kelowna gained control of the puck and scored shorthanded on the empty net 13 seconds after Sarthou had left the game.
Tri-City cut into the lead on the same power play when Brian Williams one timed a centering feed from Connor Rankin to put the Americans on the board at 13:58 of the third period. But that was the only offense the team would come up with.
The goal was Williams’ 20th tally of the season, tying the California native’s single season high which he set in 66 games last season.
The Americans conclude another busy weekend of hockey tomorrow when it takes on the Spokane Chiefs (16-8-0-01, 33 pts.) in a big U.S. Division contest at the Spokane Veterans Memorial tomorrow night at 7:05. 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) Madison Bowey, Kelowna
2) Nick Merkley, Kelowna
3) Evan Sarthou, Tri-City