Kennewick, WA- The Tri-City Americans (13-9-0-2, 28 pts.) built a four-goal lead through two periods of play, and survived a big third period push by the Regina Pats (12-11-0-0, 24 pts.) to skate away with a 5-3 victory Friday night at the Toyota Center.
The Americans have now won eight of its last 10 games, earning points in all but one. The victory also extended Tri-City’s home ice winning streak to a season high five-games.
The Pats had an opportunity to take an early lead when Riley Hillis’ stick broke at the blue line, sending Regina in on the breakaway. After Eric Comrie made the save on the initial shot, Hillis blocked the rebound attempt in the crease, preventing the goal.
After going scoreless on two power play opportunities, a Mitch Topping penalty put the Americans shorthanded for the first time. However, it was the Americans who would capitalize. At 18:41 of the opening frame, Marcus Messier went in with Lucas Nickles on a 2-on-1 and snapped it through Nicholas Schneider’s legs to give Tri-City the 1-0 lead.
Tri-City wasted no time adding to its lead in the second period, scoring 10 seconds in. Mitch Topping picked up the puck in the neutral zone and fed the pass to Brian Williams. After losing control of the puck momentarily, Williams got the puck on his backhand and lifted it over Schneider’s shoulder.
The Americans got itself into penalty trouble with back-to-back minor penalties, giving Regina multiple chances in front of Comrie. But the Americans goaltender stood tall, with the help of his defense, keeping the Pats off the scoreboard.
Phil Tot gave the Americans the 3-0 lead at the 16:23 mark, dangling his way through the defense and deking the Pats net minder. Just 1:35 later, Tri-City would extend its lead to four. Williams blasted a one time a pass from Parker Bowles for the power play goal, giving the Americans a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Adam Brooks got the Pats on the board, scoring on the Braden Christoffer rebound at 2:32 of the third period. The early goal set the tone for the third period, tilting the ice towards Regina. Boston Leier followed up with a goal at 5:27 to get the Pats right back in the game, down 4-2 with 14:33 remaining.
After the Americans failed to put the game away with a power play late in the game, Christoffer pulled the Pats within a goal, carrying the puck up the ice and lifting the puck over Comries shoulder with 4:34 remaining.
Nickles put an end to the Pats third period surge at the 18:08 mark, going in on the Regina goal on an odd man rush, snapping the puck past Schneider to give the Americans a two-goal cushion.
With the victory, Comrie earned his 50th WHL win, making 28 saves on the night. At the other end, Schneider was playing in his first WHL game for the Pats. The 16-year-old turned aside 23 of the Americans 28 shots in a losing effort.
The American will head north to face off against the Vancouver Giants (9-11-2-1, 21 pts.) for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff, tomorrow night at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Brian Williams, Tri-City
2) Marcus Messier, Tri-City
3) Braden Christoffer, Regina