by Ben Tole
December 28, 2013, Kennewick, WA. (ISN) –The Tri-City Americans (17-16-2-2, 38 pts.) held a 2-1 lead against the Portland Winterhawks (24-8-2-2, 52 pts.) after forty minutes of play, but after tying the game midway through the third period,the Winterhawks stole the game with an Anton Cederholm overtime goal at the Toyota Center on Friday night.
Tri-City returned from holiday break healthier than it had been in a while, with Phil Tot and Jessey Astles coming back from injury. Also drawn into the Americans’ lineup tonight were two additions on defense, as both Jordan Davies and Brendan O’Reilly made their WHL debuts, filling the void left by several key injuries in the defensive group.
While the Americans we unable to earn two points, the overtime loss snapped the team’s four-game pointless streak dating back to December 7.
The game went back and forth in a high energy first period of play, with both teams getting quality scoring chances. But, neither were able to find the back of the net in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Winterhawks opened the scoring at the 3:21 mark of the second period, capitalizing on a Jeff Hubic penalty just eight seconds earlier. Following a face-off win, Oliver Bjorkstrand skated in on goal and snapped a wrist shot past Comrie, giving Portland a 1-0 lead.
After a Dominic Turgeon checking from behind penalty, the Americans tied the game with a power play goal by Connor Rankin at 11:57. Beau McCue found Rankin in front of the net after winning the puck battle along the end boards. Rankin then beat Brendan Burke through the legs to tie the game at one.
Tri-City would take the lead at 18:33 of the second period, after forcing a turnover at its offensive zone blue line. Lucas Nickles finished a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play by one timing a Phil Tot pass past Burke, and the Americans took a 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes of play.
At 8:22 of the third period, Taylor Vickerman went off for hooking in what looked to be a defining power play for the Winterhawks. Portland was unable to capitalize though, and the Americans clung to its 2-1 lead halfway through the period.
But, just seven seconds after the penalty had expired, the Winterhawks tied the game. After an Adam Rossignol faceoff win, Keoni Texeira found an open Garrett Haar at the point. The Portland defenseman snapped a shot on Comrie which fooled the American goaltender, trickling through his legs and into the net.
Both teams had chances to regain the lead late in the period, but after 60 minutes, the score remained tied at two.
The Winterhawks needed just 56 seconds of the extra frame, with Cederholm’s second goal of the season coming at a timely moment for the Winterhawks.
The Americans will get a shot at redemption tomorrow night, when the team travels to Portland for the back end of the home and home against the Winterhawks. The puck drops from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at 7:00 p.m. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Oliver Bjorkstrand, Portland
2) Connor Rankin, Tri-City
3) Eric Comrie, Tri-City