Dan Mulhausen

MEDICINE HAT, AB – A sold out Medicine Hat Arena got their money’s worth in a CHL Top 10 showdown between the Americans and Tigers.

Patrick Holland netted a goal and an assist, while Justin Feser scored the game-winner in a shootout, as the visiting Tri-City Americans (14-5-0-0, 28 pts) rallied to defeat the Medicine Hat Tigers (14-5-1-1, 30 pts) 4-3 in front of 4,006 at The Arena. With the win, Tri-City won their season-best fourth straight game while also notching their fifth consecutive road victory. The Americans also improved to 3-0 on their five-game road trip and 2-0 against the Central Division, both coming against Top 10 ranked opponents. Meanwhile, the Tigers picked up their first shootout loss in three attempts this season. It also marked the first-ever game decided by a shootout between the two clubs.

On Friday night, the WHL’s highest scoring team wasted little time in showing what their offense could do. Less than two minutes into the contest, Curtis Valk banged in a Kale Kessy rebound to quickly put the Tigers up 1-0.

However, 10 minutes later, the rejuvenated Tri-City power play evened the game. On their first man-advantage opportunity of the night, Malte Strömwall screened Tigers’ goaltender, Tyler Bunz, allowing Holland to connect on a shot from the right point. For Holland, it was his third goal of the season and second in as many games.

A minute later, though, Valk was heard from again. From the left circle, Valk sent in a drive that beat Ty Rimmer over his glove, as the Tigers regained the lead at 2-1. For Valk, it was his first-career multi-point game and gave him 3 goals on the season, all of which have come in his last two games.

But, early into the second period, the Tigers’ Cole Grbavac was sent off for kneeing and Tri-City quickly made it count. Just 1:40 into the period, and 18 seconds into the power play, Holland made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, and then found Brian Williams in the slot. Bunz would deny Williams, but the rebound bounced right to Strömwall at the near post, who slammed it into the net.

Then, 7:02 into the third period, the Americans took their first lead of the contest. Just seconds after Bunz made a fantastic save on Brendan Shinnimin, the puck eventually found the stick of Mason Wilgosh. From the middle of the left circle, Wilgosh blasted a shot over the blocker of Bunz to give Tri-City a 3-2 lead. For Wilgosh, it was just his second goal of the season, but gave him points in three straight games.

After being held without a point for the first 48 minutes, the WHL’s two 20-goal scorers finally came through for the Tigers. Less than 2 minutes after Wilgosh gave Tri-City the lead, Emerson Etem set-up Hunter Shinkaruk, who let a shot go on Rimmer. The Americans’ netminder made a partial save, but the puck had just enough momentum to trickle over the goal line, knotting the game at 3.

Tri-City would generate a couple good scoring chances early into overtime, but Etem nearly ended the game twice inside the final minute of the extra session. However, Rimmer, as part of a 3-shot flurry, came up huge to force a shootout.

Shinkaruk and Shinnimin each connected in the first round of the shootout before Bunz and Rimmer blanked their shooters in rounds 2 and 3. Finally, after Rimmer made the save on Reid Petryk in round 4, Justin Feser won it for Tri-City. For Feser, he improved to 2-of-4 in the shootout, with both goals having been game-winners.

Rimmer, who improved to 4-2 in the shootout, stopped 25 shots to earn his 9th win of the season. Meanwhile, Bunz finished with 30 saves on 33 shots in the loss. Tri-City went 2-for-3 on the power play and was a perfect 3-of-3 on the penalty kill. Tonight’s effort on the power play also marked the second time this season that the Americans recorded multiple power play goals in back-to-back games.

After picking up two big wins against two of the League’s best, the Americans will now travel to the Enmax Centre on Saturday, November 12 for a date with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (3-16-0-1). Game time is 6:00 p.m. (PST). After starting the season 2-1, including wins over Medicine Hat and Calgary, the Hurricanes went 0-12-0-1 in October and come in having dropped three straight. Meanwhile, the Americans have won 4 of their last 5 meetings with Lethbridge, including their last three meetings, and are 8-9-1-0 all-time at Enmax Centre. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at Kimo’s, the Americans’ home away from home, starting at 6:00 p.m. (PST). The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 5:45 p.m. (PST).

Applebee’s 3 Stars:

1, Curtis Valk, Medicine Hat

2, Patrick Holland, Tri-City

3, Malte Strömwall, Tri-City