Kennewick, WA- The Tri-City Americans (5-7-0-1 11pts.) got off to the quick start it had been looking for, riding Rodney Southam’s first two WHL goals to a 4-2 victory against the Victoria Royals (8-6-0-0 16 pts.) Friday night at the Toyota Center.
With the win, the Americans snapped Victoria’s five-game winning streak, while evening the season series at one game apiece, with each team winning its respective home game.
After forcing a Royals turnover, Justin Marreck picked up his own rebound and fed it to Rodney Southam, who beat Patrik Polivka glove side to open the scoring at the 2:28 mark of the first period.
Less than four minutes later, Brian Williams added to the lead. The Tri-City forward took the pass from Phil Tot and dangled through the Royals defense, snapping it past the Victoria net minder to give Tri-City a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Early in the second period, Lucas Nickles put the Americans up by three-goals momentarily early in the second period, but the Royals took the momentum away with its first goal of the game. Luke Harrison was robbed point blank by Eric Comrie on the initial shot, but managed to lift his own rebound into the net.
Then, at 11:36 of the middle frame, Victoria defenseman Brett Cote snuck behind the American penalty killers to tap in the centering pass from Ben Walker for the power play goal. The goal cut Tri-City’s lead to just one goal after 40 minutes of play.
Following a Michal Plutnar tripping penalty at the 6:10 mark, The Royals had an opportunity to tie the game with a power play opportunity, but the Tri-City penalty killers shut down the Royals attack.
At the 10:19 mark, Rodney Southam gave the Americans the insurance goal it needed to restore the two-goal lead. Southam picked up the loose puck and buried a wrist shot past Polivka. The rookie’s second goal of the game gave Tri-City a 4-2 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Victoria’s power play unit got one more chance with the man advantage, but the Americans defense killed it off and held the Royals offense in check to claim the 4-2 victory.
Tri-City was outshot 39-23 in the game, but Eric Comrie turned in another solid performance for the Americans, making 37 saves on the night. The outing lowered the Americans net minder’s goals against average to 2.53 on the season, which ranks ninth in the WHL.
Tri-City will play the second of a five-game home stand tomorrow night against the division rival Portland Winterhawks (6-3-0-0). Puck drops from the Toyota Center at 7:05 p.m. The Americans will continue the home stand next week against Swift Current on Tuesday before closing out against Seattle and Brandon next weekend.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Rodney Southam, Tri-City
2) Brian Williams, Tri-City
3) Ben Walker, Victoria