VICTORIA, B.C. – It had been over 17 years since the Americans last played hockey on Vancouver Island and, on Tuesday night, Tri-City marked a triumphant return.
Justin Feser had a 4-point night while Brendan Shinnimin added two more goals, as the visiting Tri-City Americans (22-7-0-0, 44 pts) skated past the Victoria Royals (12-17-1-1, 26 pts) 6-2 in front of 4,600 fans at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena. With the win, Tri-City improved to 10-5 on the road this season, while knotting the 4-game season series with Victoria at 1-apiece. The Royals, meanwhile, have dropped their last two games and eight of their last nine.
In round 1 of their doubleheader on the island, Tri-City jumped out to a two-goal lead and never looked back, leading from wire-to-wire.
At the 6:52 mark of the first period, Feser forced a turnover in the right circle and then dished the puck to Malte Strömwall behind the net. Strömwall then found Mason Wilgosh in the slot, whose shot glanced off the left pipe and past starter, Keith Hamilton. Then, less than three minutes later, and on a 5-on-3 man-advantage, Patrick Holland fed Feser, who fired a one-timer past Hamilton for the 2-0 lead.
With 1:23 left in the first, Victoria pulled to within one following Zane Jones’ 6th goal of the season. However, it proved to be as close as the Royals could get.
Back on the power play 4:02 into the second period, Shinnimin used his speed to regain Tri-City’s two-goal cushion. With two Victoria players to beat, Shinnimin cut around the defense and fit a shot just under the right arm of Hamilton to notch his 12th of the year. It also ended Hamilton’s night, who gave way to back-up Jared Rathjen after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
Rathjen, however, did not fare much better, as Tri-City made it a 4-1 game just three minutes into his tenure. Mitch Topping stepped up from the point, corralling an errant Victoria clearing pass, and quickly fired a shot in on Rathjen. The rebound, though, wound up on the stick of rookie Tyson Dallman, who lifted a shot over the fallen netminder for his first career WHL goal.
Then, inside the final two minutes of the second, and playing 4-aside, Feser was there to clean up a Holland wrap-around attempt, recording his second multi-goal game of the season, to stretch Tri-City’s lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Just 2:07 into the third, and on the power play, Victoria inched closer following Robin Soudek’s 17th marker of the season. However, that was all Ty Rimmer was giving up, who went on to make 30 saves on 32 shots faced.
Meanwhile, with just over six minutes left in regulation, Shinnimin capped the scoring after breaking in as part of a 2-on-1 with Connor Rankin.
Rathjen, who played out the final 36 minutes, finished the game with 14 saves on 17 shots in relief of Hamilton, who took the loss. Meanwhile, Rimmer, after winning 7 of his last 8 starts, improved to 13-4 on the year. Tri-City finished the night 2-for-6 on the power play, while Victoria went 1-for-7 on the man-advantage.
The re-match is set for 7:05 p.m. tomorrow, December 7 at Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena. Tri-City will be gunning for their third straight road victory, while the Royals look to end their four-game home slide. The winner will also take the upper hand in the 4-game season series with one game left to play after Wednesday night. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at Kimo’s, the Americans’ home away from home, starting at 7:05 p.m. 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, Justin Feser, Tri-City
2, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
3, Ty Rimmer, Tri-City