Portland, OR - Despite a career-high 44 save effort by goaltender Eric Comrie, the Tri-City Americans (4-7-0-1, 9 pts) were unable to get its offense going, dropping the game 4-1 against the Portland Winterhawks (5-3-0-1, 11 pts) Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
The Americans were outshot 48 to 30 on the night, and if it wasn’t for the stellar play of Comrie, Tri-City could have found itself out of the game early, getting outshot 17-6 in the first period of play.
Portland drew first blood at the 3:31 mark of the first period. After forcing a turnover behind the net, Nic Petan came in on goal for a wide open wrist shot. While Comrie was able to make the pad save, Brendan Leipsic was sitting on the door step to capitalize on the rebound.
Less than a minute after the goal, the Americans found itself in penalty trouble. The Winterhawks were given four consecutive minutes of power play time, almost half of which coming on the two-man advantage. Portland got several great scoring opportunities, but Comrie stood tall, keeping the American deficit at just one goal.
Tri-City got more pressure on the Winterhawks goal in the second period, but still could not score on Brendan Burke. The Americans twice beat the Portland net minder in the period, but couldn’t put it in the net with both Lucas Nickles and Brian Williams ringing their shots of the goal post.
The Winterhawks stretched its lead to two goals at the 4:14 mark of the third period. Derrick Pouliot took the original shot on Comrie, but the puck got caught in his gear for a split second, and when it dropped into the crease, Adam Rossignol was there to push it into the Tri-City goal.
It seemed as though the second goal would be the end for the Americans, but at 8:27, Phil Tot intercepted a pass at the defensive zone blue line and skated in alone on the breakaway, snapping a hard wrist shot just inside the post to get the Americans back to within one.
Tri-City got multiple good chances over the next several minutes, but a Justin Kopeck goal at 15:37 put an end to Tri-City’s come back effort. Oliver Bjorkstrand added an empty netter late in the game to give Portland a 4-1 victory.
The 44 save effort bettered Comrie’s previous career high, set on November 17, 2012 against the Kelowna Rockets, where he made 42 saves in a 3-2 victory.
Burke turned in a 29 save effort for the Winterhawks, including multiple big third period saves while Portland was nursing a 2-1 lead.
After playing eight of its last ten games on the road, the Americans will finally return home for a five-game home stand, beginning this Friday at the Toyota Center when Tri-City takes on the Victoria Royals (8-5-0-0, 16 pts) at 7:05 p.m. The Winterhawks will then travel to Kennewick to conclude a busy weekend of hockey at the Toyota Center for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff on Saturday night.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Brendan Burke, Portland
2) Brendan Leipsic, Portland
3) Eric Comrie, Tri-City