by Ben Tole
January 18, 2014, Kennewick, WA (ISN) – The Tri-City Americans (21-21-2-2, 46 pts.) got two goals from Phil Tot and the defense took care of the rest, as they defeated the Spokane Chiefs (27-14-2-2, 58 pts) 3-1 Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Tri-City Americans on home ice, extending its hold on the eighth and final playoff spot to five points over the Prince George Cougars (17-24-2-5, 41 pts.).
Eric Comrie got the win in goal for the Americans, making 31 saves on the night, limiting a potent Spokane offense to just one goal. The Tri-City net minder dropped his goals against to 2.49 with the outing, while raising his save percentage to 0.925.
Just 59 seconds into the game, the Americans found themselves shorthanded early following Justin Gutierrez’s checking from behind penalty. The Chiefs were unable to capitalize though and would end the night 0-3 on the power play.
Phil Tot opened the scoring for the Americans, needing just seven seconds on its first man advantage to find the back of the net. Eric Williams made the initial save on Michal Plutnar, but Tot was waiting on the door step to bury the rebound.
Keanu Yamamoto would tie the game at 15:55 of the opening frame, taking advantage of a back hand feed from Dominic Zwerger on the top of the crease, knotting the game at one after 20 minutes of play.
Teams were locked in an evenly matched defensive battle in the second period, with each side recording 10 shots in the middle frame. Brian Williams broke the tie with the eventual game winning goal at 16:47, giving Tri-City the 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Tot added an important insurance marker for the Americans at 8:54 of the third period, deflecting Parker Wotherspoon’s point shot through the Williams’ legs, giving Tri-City a 3-1 advantage. Wotherspoon recorded two assists on the night and has registered points in three of his last four games.
The Americans played stifling defense in the third period, limiting Spokane’s chances to get back in the game.
After a Riley Hillis tripping penalty put Tri-City a man down at 10:03 of the third period, the Chiefs had an opportunity to cut the Americans lead in half. But, solid defense and goaltending kept the team’s two-goal lead intact.
Spokane played the last 3:57 of the game with Williams out of the net for the extra attacker, looking to get back in the game with a late push. But, the strategy would be for not, as the Chiefs were unable to solve Comrie and the Americans defense.
The Americans conclude a busy weekend of hockey tomorrow, when it takes on the Vancouver Giants (23-15-5-3, 54 pts.) for a 5:05 p.m. faceoff at the Toyota Center. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Phil Tot, Tri-City
2) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
3) Parker Wotherspoon, Tri-City