KENNEWICK, WA – Adam Hughesman recorded his second hat trick of the season, while Brendan Shinnimin netted another 4 points, including two goals in the final minute of regulation, as the host Tri-City Americans (49-17-1-2, 101 pts) rallied for a 5-3 come-from-behind win over the visiting Prince George Cougars (22-45-0-2, 46 pts) in front of 5,091 fans at the Toyota Center.
With the win, the Americans won their fourth straight game and reclaimed the top spot in the division and conference with just 3 games remaining. Meanwhile, Prince George had their two-game winning streak snapped and fell 5 points back of the final playoff spot in the West.
Sunday’s contest marked the return of former Tri-City netminder Drew Owsley, who received a warm ovation from the hometown crowd during pre-game introductions. But, Owsley’s homecoming got off to a rocky start, giving up a goal just three minutes into the contest. After he forced a turnover, Hughesman carried the puck into the corner before flinging a shot in on Owsley. The puck, though, glanced off Owsley’s right pad and across the goal line, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead.
But, after that, the 1st period belonged to Owsley and the Cougars, who recorded 3 unanswered goals to round out the period.
First, only two minutes after Hughesman’s goal, the Cougars responded when rookie Chase Witala picked up a rebound of a Jake Mykitiuk shot, then maneuvered around Eric Comrie before scoring his 8th of the season. Then, seven minutes later, Jesse Forsberg registered his 4th goal of the season backdoor at the far post. Finally, with 5:32 left in the 1st, brother Alex Forsberg ripped a shot from the left point just under the crossbar, to make it a 3-1 Cougars lead. And, despite posting back-to-back 1-0 wins over the Cougars earlier in the season, Comrie was pulled after just 14 minutes.
Meanwhile, with Ty Rimmer now in net, the Americans came out aggressive to start the 2nd period, scoring less than a minute into the frame. Just 34 seconds out of the break, Hughesman notched his second of the night off an assist from Shinnimin. Six and a half minutes later, Shinnimin stripped Spencer Asuchak of the puck, then fed it to Justin Feser. Feser, who moved back to play defense for tonight’s game, found Hughesman in the slot, who proceeded to bury his 46th goal of the season and tie the game at 3.
The Americans then started to assert their will in the 3rd period, out-chancing the Cougars 12 to 5 in the final 20 minutes of play. However, it remained deadlocked at 3 until Shinnimin won the game with 49 seconds remaining. Following a save by Rimmer, Zachary Yuen left the puck for Shinnimin, who then skated around and through the Prince George defense on his way towards Owsley. From the high slot, Shinnimin then rifled a shot over Owsley’s glove for the eventual game-winner.
Just 18 seconds later, though, Shinnimin was the credited with his second goal of the contest, following a Cougars’ own-goal that fans had to see to believe. With Owsley pulled for the extra attacker, a pass back to the point eluded Reid Jackson, who watched helplessly as the puck traveled down the length of the ice and directly into the vacated Prince George net to cap the scoring.
Rimmer, who came on to stop all 17 shots faced in 45 minutes of relief, became just the 5th Americans’ netminder to reach 30 wins in a season. Meanwhile, Owsley finished with 25 saves on 29 shots in the loss. Tri-City went 0-for-2 on the man-advantage, while the Cougars did not receive a power play opportunity in the game.
The two squads will now rest up before the Americans host the Cougars again on Tuesday, March 13 at the Toyota Center. Game time is 7:05 p.m. The Cougars must win if they want to keep their post-season hopes alive, while Tri-City looks to maintain their grip on a fourth division title in five seasons. 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 3 goals tonight, Adam Hughesman passed Brent Ascroft (134) for 3rd on the Americans’ all-time goals list…With 3 points tonight, Brendan Shinnimin now has points in 20 straight games, tops in the WHL and one game shy of his career-high 21-game stretch from last season…With an assist tonight, Patrick Holland continued his WHL-leading assist streak, which now sits at 17 games. He has 31 assists during the run…With the win tonight, Ty Rimmer became the 5th Tri-City goaltender to win 30 games in a season, joining Brian Boucher (1995-96), Carey Price (2006-07), Chet Pickard (2007-08, 2008-09) and Drew Owsley (2009-10, 2010-11). Rimmer, in 43 games played, matches the franchise record shared by Pickard (07-08) and Owsley (09-10) for the fastest to 30 wins in a season.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City
2, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City
3, Alex Forsberg, Prince George