KENT, WA – The old hockey saying goes that ‘good penalty killing starts in net’ and Calvin Pickard proved that on Friday night.
One day after allowing 7 goals to the Russian All-Stars in the final game of the Subway Super Series, Pickard returned to his home team just in time to stop all 43 shots he faced, as the Seattle Thunderbirds (8-11-0-0, 16 pts) blanked the visiting Tri-City Americans (15-6-0-0, 30 pts) 3-0 in front of 4,094 fans at ShoWare Center. With the win, Seattle snapped their 10-game losing streak to Tri-City, which included a 9-game sweep of last year’s season series, and won just their 3rd game on home ice this season. Meanwhile, Tri-City saw their 6-game road winning streak snapped while dropping the final game of their season-long 5-game road swing. The Americans finished the three-week road slate with a 4-1 record.
It’s not the first time that Pickard has come up big against his older brother’s former team. Pickard, who has led the WHL in saves each of the last two seasons, has now posted 3 of his 8 career shutouts against Tri-City, averaging 41.3 saves per game in those three shutouts.
And Friday night was no different, as Pickard needed to make key saves throughout the night. The teams would combine for 27 total shots on goal through the first 20 minutes but the game remained scoreless.
Tri-City was not without their chances, watching two shots ring off the post in the first period. Then, in the second, Adam Hughesman thought he finally beat Pickard, only to have it overturned by the video goal judge. The Americans even outchanced Seattle 14 to 7 in the second frame, yet still could not find a way to get anything past Pickard.
Two late penalties towards the end of the second, though, eventually gave Seattle the opportunity they needed. The T’birds played the first 48 seconds of the third period on a 5-on-3 man-advantage but came away empty handed. However, with 26 seconds left on the back end of the power play, Kyle Verdino’s shot was blocked in front, but had the rebound go straight to Sean Aschim in the left circle. From there, Aschim flipped a shot past Eric Comrie, who had no chance on the play.
The Americans then upped the pressure on Pickard, looking for any sort of kink in the netminder’s armor. Four minutes later, though, Burke Gallimore forced a Tri-City turnover and fed Chance Lund at the near post. Lund then knocked in his 5th goal of the season to make it a 2-0 Seattle lead.
Still down by two with less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation, and while playing 4-aside, Tri-City Coach Jim Hiller opted to pull Comrie for the extra attacker, giving the Americans a quasi-man-advantage. It nearly worked, as Tri-City just missed pulling to within one twice, yet still came up empty.
Finally, with under two minutes to play, and the Americans’ net still empty, Gallimore took advantage of another Tri-City turnover to cap the scoring in the contest.
Comrie, who matched Pickard save-for-save for the majority of the night, collected 26 saves on 28 shots in the tough-luck loss. For Comrie, it was his first loss since Oct. 14 vs. Brandon, snapping a 4-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Pickard earned his first shutout of the season and stretched his winning streak to 3 games. It marked the 3rd time this month that Pickard has finished a game with 40+ saves and 5th time this season. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-8 on the power play, ending their 3-game multi-PPG streak. Conversely, Seattle went 1-for-7 on the man-advantage.
For the first time in three weeks, the Americans will return to the friendly confines of the Toyota Center tomorrow, Saturday, November 19, when they will host the B.C. Division’s Kamloops Blazers (14-6-0-0). Game time is 7:05 p.m. It is the first of four meetings between the two clubs. Tri-City, winners of 13 of their last 16 vs. Kamloops, were 3-0-0-1 against the Blazers last season and has won the past four season series. On the other end, Kamloops has re-emerged as a leader in the B.C. Division, coming in having won 2 straight and 7 of their last 10. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at ticketmaster.com, the Toyota Center box office, or all Fred Meyer outlets. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Calvin Pickard, Seattle
2, Sean Aschim, Seattle
3, Eric Comrie, Tri-City