Vancouver, B.C. – Early third period penalty trouble proved costly for the Tri-City Americans (13-10-0-2, 28 pts), as two early third period power play goals by the Vancouver Giants (10-11-2-1, 21 pts) helped the Giants defeat the Americans 5-2 Saturday night at the Pacific Coliseum.
It was just the second time since the 2010-2011 season that the Americans had lost to the Giants in regulation, ending a five-game winning streak against its Western Conference opponent.
Offense was hard to come by in the early going, with both teams not having any success generating offense in the first period. A double minor penalty by the Giants would open things up in the late stages of the period, allowing the Americans to generate several scoring opportunities, but Tri-City was unable to beat Payton Lee.
The Americans looked to be the more dangerous team for the majority of the second period, but were unable to capitalize on any of its opportunities. A late power play gave the Giants its best scoring chances of the game to that point, but both goaltenders looked steady, keeping the scoreless tie in tact through 40 minutes.
Tri-City found itself in penalty trouble early and often in the third period, and the Giants would make them pay. At 1:37 of the third period, Carter Popoff opened the scoring with Parker Wotherspoon in the box. Popoff took the pass from Brett Kulak and one timed it past Eric Comrie to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. With the Americans shorthanded once again, Dalton Thrower added to Vancouver’s lead less than two minutes later.
After three consecutive penalties in the first four minutes of the period, the Americans finally got its opportunity with the man advantage, and Connor Rankin took full advantage. The North Vancouver native carried the puck out of the corner, beating Lee five hole to cut the lead in half.
The Giants regained its two-goal advantage at 13:36, when Tyler Morrison’s point shot hit a skate in front of the net and trickled through the legs of Comrie.
The back and forth offensive outburst would continue, when Mitch Topping again pulled the Americans back to within a goal at 15:51, but that was as close as Tri-City would get. The Giants added two late empty net goals to end the Americans’ comeback bid.
The Americans were outshot 17-4 in the third period and were limited to 18 shots on the night. Comrie faced 27 shots from the Giants, making 24 saves.
Both teams will head to Kennewick for the second leg of the home and home at the Toyota Center this Tuesday night for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer locations, or online at ticketmaster.com.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Carter Poppoff, Vancouver
2) Dalton Thrower, Vancouver
3) Mitch Topping, Tri-City