by Ben Tole
January 5, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. (ISN) – The Tri-City Americans (18-19-2-2, 40 pts.) made a valiant comeback effort in the third period, but were never able to recover from the Vancouver Giants (21-14-5-2, 49 pts.) quick start in the first period as the Americans fell 4-2 at the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday evening.
It was the eighth loss for the Americans in its last nine games, dropping the team below the .500 mark with Sunday’s outcome. Tri-City fell to 1-2-0-0 in the season series against the Giants and will look to even it up when the teams face each other for the fourth and final time on January 19.
Lucas Nickles nearly gave the Americans the lead in the early stages of the first period, picking up a rebound in front of Giants goaltender Jared Rathjen. But, his backhand attempt rang off the post and stayed out.
The Giants opened the scoring at 4:38 of the first period, after a failed clearing attempt by the Americans. Brett Kulak’s initial shot was blocked, but the puck redirected onto the stick of Alec Baer who had a wide open net.
The Americans got more bad luck just 53 seconds later, when Rob Trzonkowski’s shot hit Eric Comrie in the chest protector and then rolled over his shoulder and down his back into the net, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead six minutes into the game.
Tri-City had problems getting its offense going in the second period and were outshot 12-0 in the first 13 minutes before Brandon Carlo was finally able to register the Americans first shot of the second.
At 16:09 of the second, Matthew Gelinas was issued a five minute major for checking to the head and a game misconduct. Dalton Thrower extended the lead 22 seconds into the power play, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
The Americans entered the third period down a man with a three-goal deficit to overcome. But, a Lucas Nickles shorthanded goal 49 seconds into the period got the Americans back into the game.
Down by two goals with four minutes remaining in the third, head coach Jim Hiller pulled Comrie to give his team an extended 6-on-5 opportunity. Then, with 1:32 remaining Phil Tot made it a one-goal game with his 11th goal of the season.
In the final minute, Tri-City had the chance to score the game tying goal, with the puck deep in the Giants end. But, after a turnover at the blue line, Jackson Houck scored in the open net to ice the 4-2 victory for the Giants.
Comrie finished the game with 31 saves allowing three goals in the 56:34 he spent on the ice. In 35 starts this season, the 18-year-old net minder is allowing just 2.59 goals per game while holding a 0.922 save percentage.
The Americans return to the Toyota Center this Tuesday night for a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Kamloops Blazers (10-27-2-2, 24 pts.). Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer locations, or online at ticketmaster.com.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Jackson Houck, Vancouver
2) Brett Kulak, Vancouver
3) Mason Geertsen, Vancouver