Kennewick, WA – Heading into the third period with a 3-0 deficit, Rodney Southam got the Tri-City Americans (28-30-3-5, 64 pts.) within two, scoring less than a minute into the final frame. But, the Portland Winterhawks (48-12-2-3, 100 pts.) would score just minutes later, putting an end to any hopes of a comeback, as the Winterhawks defeated the Americans 5-1 at the Toyota Center on Wednesday night.
Despite the loss, Tri-City maintained its four point advantage over the Prince George Cougars (26-34-3-5, 60 pts.) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while still holding two games in hand.
Keegan Iverson opened the scoring for the Winterhawks at 9:53 of the first period, taking the pass from Dominic Turgeon and snapping a wrist shot over Eric Comrie’s glove from above the faceoff circle. Even after falling into an early hole, Tri-City stuck right with the Winterhawks in the first 20 minutes, firing 13 shots on Corbin Boes.
Lucas Nickles narrowly missed tying the game late in the opening frame, going in alone on the Winterhawks’ net minder, but was unable to lift the backhanded shot over a sprawling Boes. Then, with 1:04 left in the first period, Anton Cederholm picked up the loose puck on a long rebound and beat the Americans’ goalkeeper with a hard slap shot to make it 2-0.
While the Winterhawks outshot the Americans 14-6 during the middle frame, more solid goaltending from Comrie limited Portland to just one goal. The lone Portland score in the second period came at 5:40, when Chase De Leo took the pass from Brendan Leipsic and deflected it over Comrie to give his team a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Just 48 seconds in the final period, Southam gave the Americans a lift, crashing the net off of a Beau McCue rebound and sliding the puck past Boes.
But, at 3:53, Paul Bittner quickly restored Portland’s three-goal lead, one timing a feed from Nic Petan. Then, Josh Hanson added a goal at 12:30 of the final frame, to cap the scoring in the contest.
The Americans will be back in action on Friday night, when it kicks off the second to last weekend of the regular season with a final meeting against the Everett Silvertips (34-23-7-2, 77 pts.). The puck drops from the Toyota Center at 7:05 p.m. Tickets for Friday’s game 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) Chase De Leo, Portland
2) Paul Bittner, Portland
3) Keegan Iverson, Portland