Kennewick, WA- It came down to the wire, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight.
Seven goals were scored in the third period, four by the Medicine Hat Tigers (24-23-2-1, 51 pts), followed by a furious comeback attempt by the Tri-City Americans (28-18-1-2, 59 pts) that fell just short, giving the Tigers a 6-5 win in front of 4,022 at the Toyota Center.
Tri-City snapped a two game home win streak against the Tigers.
The first period was all Americans, as they outshot the Tigers 15-8 and had three power play opportunities. Tri-City capitalized on one of their opportunities as Lucas Nickles scored his first goal in 18 games to make it 1-0. There were other good chances for the Americans, but none were converted as the period ended with one goal scored.
Medicine Hat gained momentum in the second period. A Parker Bowles hooking penalty allowed the Tigers to tie the game on the power play as Chad Labelle put home a rebound to even the game at one. The Tigers took the lead midway through the period as Elgin Pearce fired a wrist shot over the blocker of Luke Lee-Knight to give Medicine Hat a 2-1 lead. But Tri-City gained some momentum heading into the third period as Mitch Topping beat the second period buzzer, scoring with 0.1 on the clock as the crowd erupted after video review confirmed the goal. Medicine Hat outshot Tri-City 19-5 in the period, but it was tied at two heading into the third.
Tri-City would come out strong in the third period and retake the lead on a one-timer by Justin Feser on the power play. But Medicine Hat came right back as Trevor Cox deflected home a Pearce feed to tie the game at three. Jesse Mychan wouldn’t allow the game to be tied long, as he fired a shot from the right face-off circle past Marek Langhamer to make it 4-3. Medicine Hat tied the game again two minutes later as Logan McVeigh scored to knot the game at four. Midway through the period, the Tigers took the lead as Curtis Valk bounced a puck off an Americans defender and into the net to give Medicine Hat a 5-4 lead. Medicine Hat got an insurance goal as Boston Leier fired a shot from the middle red line, which somehow got past Lee-Knight to make it 6-4.
The Americans made it interesting as Mychan scored his second goal of the game with just over a minute left in the game. Lee-Knight was pulled for the final minute to try and tie the game, but the Americans couldn’t get the tying goal, allowing the Tigers to escape with a win.
Feser had two assists tonight, passing Kruise Reddick and Stu Barnes to move into seventh on the Americans all-time assists list. He also extended his point streak to 11 games and has recorded a point in every game in 2013.
Lee-Knight made 30 saves in the loss, while Langhamer made 27 saves in the win.
Tri-City has no time to rest as they welcome the WHL’s best Portland Winterhawks (38-7-1-2, 79 pts) to the Toyota Center on Jan. 26 on the Americans fourth annual CH2M Hill Nuclear Night. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. Portland has had the Americans number this season, winning five of six meetings. The Americans are 3-0 all-time on Nuclear Night. 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, any Fred Meyer outlet, at any Ticketmaster Location, online at Ticketmaster.com or at the Americans office in the basement of the Toyota Center.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Elgin Pearce, Medicine Hat
2. Jesse Mychan, Tri-City
3. Justin Feser, Tri-City