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Special Teams Lift Bruins Over Tri-City 4-3

By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans

CHILLIWACK, BC – Two of the WHL’s top-3 power play units went toe-to-toe on Friday night and, in the end, it was special teams that eventually decided the outcome.

After being shutout in the first 40 minutes, the Chilliwack Bruins’ (11-8-2-0, 24 pts) power play scored twice in a six minute span to start the third period, as they held on to beat the visiting Tri-City Americans (11-8-1-1, 24 pts) 4-3 in front of 2,951 fans at Prospera Centre.  With the win, the Bruins have now picked up at least a point in five of their last eight games, while notching their third straight win vs. Tri-City at home.  Meanwhile, despite another solid effort, the Americans dropped their fifth straight game; something the club has not done since February 25 through March 4, 2006.

On Friday, the high-octane Bruins got things started when team-leading scorer Ryan Howse notched his 18th goal of the season.  Coming into the Tri-City zone with Roman Horak, Howse drove a one-timer high over the glove of Drew Owsley for the 1-0 lead midway through the first period.

Chilliwack took that 1-0 lead into the second, but would spend the majority of the period on their heels.  The Americans, behind a 15 to 6 shot advantage in the frame, took a 2-1 lead before the midway point of the period.  Just 2:52 into the second, and on the power play, Adam Hughesman’s second effort found the back of the net to get Tri-City on the board.  Then, back on the power play five minutes later, Hughesman connected again, lifting a Connor Rankin rebound over Lucas Gore.  It was Tri-City’s first lead in a game since they went up 1-0 on Red Deer back on November 6.

With momentum clearly in their opponent’s favor, Chilliwack needed a break to get back into the contest.  And, fortunately for the hometown faithful, they got that opportunity with the second period coming to a close.

During a Bruins’ line change, Kevin Sundher brought the puck into the Tri-City zone.  Facing a 1-on-3 situation, Sundher drove hard to the net, where he was eventually knocked down by the Americans’ Brock Sutherland.  But, from his belly, Sundher poked at the puck which, somehow, found its way past Owsley at the right post, tying the game at 2.

It was the start of a rough final few minutes for the Americans, which took two penalties over the final 1:02, setting the stage for a 58-second Bruins’ 5-on-3 man-advantage to start the third period.  And, just 31 seconds into the final period, Chilliwack got another break when Roman Horak’s shot ricocheted off of Owsley’s left pad and across the goal line to make it 3-2.

However, the one that arguably hurt the most was when Kruise Reddick was called for an interference penalty at the 4:55 mark, and away from the play, to put the potent Bruins’ power play back on the ice.  And, with seven seconds remaining on the power play, Chilliwack made good and extended their lead when Brandon Magee beat Owsley for his fourth goal of the season.

Still firing away on Gore, and after a power play goal of their own, the Americans pulled to within one.  While Gore was screened by Jordan Messier, Zachary Yuen sent a pass from behind the net to Brooks Macek.  From the slot, Macek beat Gore on the short side, notching his fifth goal of the season to make it a one-goal game.

Tri-City then came inches away from tying the game when Justin Feser rang a shot off the left post with 2:08 to play.  Tri-City coach Jim Hiller opted to pull Owsley for the extra attacker at that time.  Chilliwack then gave Tri-City a 6-on-4 man-advantage when Brandon Manning took a cross checking penalty with 1:44 left in regulation.  But, in the end, the Americans could not find the equalizer.

Gore came up big when needed, pulling in 39 saves on 42 shots, to collect his 10th win of the season.  Meanwhile, Owsley stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced in suffering his fourth straight loss.  The Americans finished the night 3-for-8 on the power play, while the Bruins were 2-for-6 on the man-advantage.

After a long start to the season, where they played 15 of their first 21 games away from home, Tri-City will finally get some games inside the friendly confines of the Toyota Center.  In the midst of their first tripleheader weekend, the Americans will now look to snap their losing skid against the rival Spokane Chiefs (10-8-1-1) on Saturday, November 20.  Game time is 7:05 p.m.  It’s the fourth of 12 meetings between the rivals, with the Chiefs coming in having won the previous two meetings.  However, both of those contests came in Spokane.  Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at ticketmaster.com, the Toyota Center box office, or all Fred Meyer outlets.  Saturday’s game will be aired live on KVEW-TV’s My Network digital channel 280 for Charter customers, starting at 7:00 p.m.  The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.

Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Brandon Magee, Chilliwack
2, Kevin Sundher, Chilliwack
3, Lucas Gore, Chilliwack

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