Cranbrook, B.C. – After the Tri-City Americans (10-8-0-2, 22 pts) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, second and third period goals by the Kootenay Ice (8-7-2-0, 18 pts) tied the game in the third period. But, a Brian Williams marker with 9:39 remaining gave the Americans the lead for good, as it defeated the Ice 4-2 at Western Financial Place on Sunday evening.
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The win was the fifth in the last six games for the Americans, who earned points in all six of those contests. Tri-City got five out of a possible six points on its three-game Central Division road trip, jumping to sixth place in the Western Conference with 22 points.
The Americans held momentum early in the game, taking advantage of its opportunities with a goal 4:40 into the first period. After being held scoreless in his first 19 WHL games, Ty Comrie scored his second goal in as many nights to give Tri-City the early 1-0 advantage.
After Comrie’s goal, Kootenay began to tilt the ice in its favor, controlling the play in the Americans’ zone for the next several minutes. But, Eric Comrie made several key saves to keep his team on top. After holding off the Ice during those dangerous minutes, Tri-City broke out on a 2-on-1. All though it failed on the odd man rush, Tri-City would capitalize later in the shift, when Mitch Topping’s wrist shot found the back of the net, giving the Americans a 2-0 advantage.
Four minutes into the second period, the Americans went on the power play after a Jagger Dirk tripping penalty, with the opportunity to take a three-goal lead. However, just eight seconds after the Ice had successfully killed off the penalty, Austin Vetterl took the pass from Dirk coming out of the penalty box and put it past Comrie, cutting the lead to 2-1.
In the early stages of the third period, the Americans jumped all over Kootenay. On three different occasions, Tri-City had 2-on-1 odd-man rush opportunities, but were unable to beat Mackenzie Skapski.
Jessey Astles’ high sticking penalty at 5:29 gave Kooteneay the spark it needed, not only to take momentum back, but to tie the game. On the ensuing power play, Luke Philp’s slap shot from the point beat Comrie, tying the game at two.
The Americans did not play with the tie for very long, however, as just over four minutes later, Brian Williams took the pass from Parker Bowles and snapped a wrist shot, top corner, over Skapski’s glove to give Tri-City the lead back at 3-2.
As it had done for most of the game, Tri-City frustrated the Kootenay offense in the late stages of the game, preventing any good scoring for the rest of the game. Sam Reinhart and Jaedon Descheneau, both among the top scorers in the WHL, were held to a combined one assist in the game.
With seven seconds remaining in the period, Marcus Messier took the pass from Bowles on the offensive side of the red line and shot the puck into the empty net, sealing the game.
Comrie turned in another great outing for the Americans, making 30 saves on the night, including several big saves in the first period while the game was still scoreless. Once again, the Winnipeg Jets’ second round draft pick lowered his goals against, which now ranks sixth in the WHL at 2.44.
The Americans will play the last two games of its five-game road swing against U.S. Division opponents, starting this Wednesday against the Portland Winterhawks (14-3-0-1, 29 pts). Tri-City will then play Friday night at Comcast Arena against the Everett Silvertips (11-3-2-0, 24 pts) before returning home for the second leg of a home-and-home against the ‘Tips. 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) Mitch Topping, Tri-City
2) Luke Philp, Kootenay
3) Justin Hamonic, Tri-City