Kennewick, WA – After Braden Purtill tied the game late in the third period, Phil Tot finished the comeback with 30.3 second left in overtime, as the Tri-City Americans (20-20-2-2, 44 pts.) defeated the Everett Silvertips (24-13-6-1, 55 pts.) 3-2 on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
The win gave the Americans a split of the weekend home-and-home, with each team winning its respective home game. Tri-City remains four points clear of the Prince George Cougars (17-23-2-4, 40 pts.) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Eric Comrie played another key role in Tri-City’s victory, making 35 saves on the night and 18 in a busy second period. Austin Lotz got the start for the Silvertips, turning in a strong outing with 29 saves of his own.
The Americans lineup also looked a little healthier tonight, as alternate captain Jessey Astles returned to the lineup after missing Tri-City’s last 8 games with an upper body injury. The game also marked the Toyota Center debut for newly acquired Americans, Jackson Playfair and Josh Thrower.
After being limited to 15 total shots in last night’s game, the Americans came out firing in the first period of Saturday’s game, outshooting the Silvertips 12 to 4 in the opening 20 minutes. It wasn’t until the six minute mark, that Everett registered its first shot on goal.
Brian Williams opened the scoring for the Americans at the 9:07 mark. The 19-year-old took the pass from Justin Hamonic and slid his 26th goal of the season past Lotz from a wide angle, giving Tri-City the 1-0 lead. During a scramble in the Americans crease late in the first period, the Silvertips thought it had scored the tying goal. But, after video review, officials ruled that the puck stayed out of the net.
However, Everett did tie the game in the second period following a Michal Plutnar hooking penalty at 12:19. The Silvertips needed just 21 seconds of the man advantage, as Ivan Nikolishin snapped a wrist shot over Comrie’s shoulder to tie the game at one. Everett controlled play for the majority of the period, launching 19 shots in the middle frame. But, clutch goaltending by Comrie kept the game tied after 40 minutes.
With under five minutes to play in regulation, Patrick Bajkov scored his second goal in as many nights, capitalizing on an odd man rush, to give Everett the lead. But, the Americans responded just 2:38 later with Braden Purtill’s fifth goal of the season, sending the game into overtime.
The Silvertips had mulitple chances in overtime, but Comrie stood his ground by making three key saves in the extra frame. With less than a minute to play in overtime, Tot carried the puck across the blue line and circled behind the net, scoring the overtime winner on the wrap around
Following a week of practice, the Americans begin a busy weekend of hockey next week. First, Tri-City travels to Kent to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds (25-14-2-3, 55 pts.) on Friday night. The team will then return home to the Toyota Center for games against the Spokane Chiefs (26-13-1-2, 55 pts.) and Vancouver Giants (22-15-5-2, 51 pts.) on Saturday and Sunday night to conclude its tripleheader weekend. Fans can catch Friday’s action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland. Tickets for Saturday and Sunday’s game at the Toyota Center are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
2) Austin Lotz, Everett
3) Phil Tot, Tri-City