Kennewick, WA- The Tri-City Americans’ (14-12-1-2, 31 pts.) penalty kill, which has been a strength for the team this season, proved to the weak link on Friday night, as the Victoria Royals (18-10-0-1, 37 pts.) scored three goals on the man advantage en route to a 3-1 victory at the Toyota Center.
Coming into tonight’s game, both teams’ penalty killing ranked among the top five in the WHL, but the highly ranked units allowed all four goals on the night, with Victoria finishing the game 3-for-4 on the power play and the Americans 1-for-4.
After Beau McCue had been whistled for a delay of game penalty, the Royals broke the scoreless tie at 10:06 of the first period. Tri-City did well cutting off Victoria’s shooting lanes on the man advantage, but a partially blocked shot found a wide open Ben Walker, who lifted the puck past Eric Comrie.
The Americans swung momentum in its direction after falling behind in the first period, spending a majority of the period’s final eight minutes in the offensive zone. Tri-City was firing shots at Royals’ goaltender Patrik Polivka from all over, but were unable to get many of its best scoring opportunities through to the Royals goaltender.
The Americans carried the late first period momentum into the second, registering six of the first eight shots in the middle frame. But, after failing to score on its second power play opportunity, the Americans went a man down. At the 11:28 mark, the Royals would capitalize to make it 2-0. Comrie came sliding out of his net to make the pad save on the original shot, but Austin Carroll was waiting on the door step to score on the rebound.
Another Victoria power play goal at 4:26 of the third period gave the Royals a 3-0 lead. It wasn’t until 18:57 of the final period that the Americans finally managed to beat the reigning CHL goaltender of the week. Connor Rankin scored on a 6-on-4 power play to pull the Americans within two goals. But, that was as close as Tri-City would get.
Comrie played another strong game in goal for the Americans, making 26 saves, but, the night belonged to Polivka, who stopped all but one of the Americans’ 34 shots.
The Americans will be right back at it again tomorrow, when it takes on the Spokane Chiefs (17-8-0-1, 35 pts.) for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff at the Toyota Center. 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) Patrik Polivka, Victoria
2) Logan Nelson, Victoria
3) Ben Walker, Victoria