KENNEWICK, WA – By the end of the night on Friday, both the Americans and the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation left the Toyota Center as winners.
Justin Feser scored twice inside the final minute of play and Eric Comrie stopped 21 shots to help guide the Tri-City Americans (36-12-1-1, 74 pts) past the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds (18-30-1-1, 38 pts) 4-1 in front of 5,522 pink-clad fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, the Americans snapped their two-game losing streak, both overall and at home, while earning their 20th home-ice win of the season. Additionally, Tri-City improved to 5-2 in the annual Fred Meyer Breast Cancer Awareness Night game, including the last two against the T’birds. Meanwhile, Seattle’s frustrations continued in Kennewick, as they lost their 21st consecutive game at the Toyota Center.
Both sides seemed to struggle in the early going, as the teams combined for just 13 shots in a scoreless first 20 minutes. But, by the second period, Tri-City seemed to find their rhythm.
And, just 48 seconds into the second, Jesse Mychan gave the Americans a lead they would never relinquish. On the first shift of the period, Patrick Holland skated around the Seattle net, then fired a shot in on Calvin Pickard from just below the circle. With Pickard unable to control the rebound, Mychan chipped a shot over the netminder’s shoulder, picking up his 7th goal of the season and 4th in 11 games with Tri-City. Then, nearly six minutes later, and on the power play, Brendan Shinnimin connected for his team-leading 30th goal of the season which gave the Americans a 2-0 lead.
But, late into the second, Seattle pulled back to within one. Just 17 seconds into their second power play, Brendan Rouse fed Connor Honey backdoor. While diving back across the crease, Honey’s shot glanced off Comrie’s shoulder and up into the air before sneaking across the goal line at the far post.
Still trailing by one late in the third period, Seattle opted to pull Pickard with just over a minute left in regulation. But, with 56 seconds remaining, and following an outlet pass from Holland, Feser won a foot race with Seattle’s Colin Jacobs, before knocking in his first of the night, making it 3-1.
Following the goal, Seattle used their only timeout of the game. Only 8 seconds later, Tri-City was called for a delay of the game penalty and Steve Konowalchuk opted to pull Pickard again in a final effort to get back into the game. However, just 17 seconds into the penalty kill, Shinnimin was able to get the puck out to Feser, who skated the puck across the blue line before burying it in the middle of the empty net.
By the end of the night, Comrie had turned aside 21 of the 22 shots he faced, improving to 16-4-1-0 on the year and snapping his two-game losing skid. Meanwhile, Pickard remained winless inside the Toyota Center, despite stopping 21 of 23 in the loss. Tri-City finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play, while Seattle went 1-of-4 on the man-advantage.
The Americans will wrap-up their doubleheader weekend tomorrow, Saturday, February 4 when the play host to the B.C. Division’s Victoria Royals (17-30-2-4). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center. It is the fourth, and final, meeting between the clubs this season, which Tri-City currently leads 2-1. The Royals come in having lost 3 of their last 4 and have allowed a league-high 258 goals this season. Meanwhile, Tri-City will be gunning for their 21st home win of the season. 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.
With his second empty net goal tonight, Justin Feser reached the 100-goal mark for his WHL career. He is now the 15th player to ever record 100 goals with Tri-City…By playing tonight, Adam Hughesman moved past Kruise Reddick (315) into 6th on Tri-City’s all-time games played list…With the win tonight, Tri-City has recorded 20+ home wins in six consecutive seasons…Tonight, Americans fans raised $21,260.77 during the annual fundraiser for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation. In the seven-year history of the pink ice event, Tri-City fans have now raised over $114,074.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Jesse Mychan, Tri-City
2, Justin Feser, Tri-City
3, Zachary Yuen, Tri-City