by Ben Tole
January 26, 2014, Spokane, WA (ISN) – The Tri-City Americans (24-21-2-3, 53 pts.) tied the game with a Brian Williams goal in the third period, but could only earn one point on the night as the Spokane Chiefs (29-15-2-2, 62 pts.) came away with the 2-1 shootout victory.
The game snapped the Americans season high four-game win streak, but the single point pulled the Americans to within three of the Vancouver Giants (24-19-5-3, 56 pts.) for the seventh spot in the Western Conference.
Eric Comrie continued his hot play, holding his opponent to a goal or less goals for the fifth consecutive game. The 18-year-old net minder has a goals against average of 1.21 and a 0.965 save percentage in eight games during the month of January.
Both teams played a tight defensive game for the opening half of the first period, with only four shots recorded in the first six minutes of play. The Americans registered the better of the scoring chances out shooting the Chiefs 6-4 in the first 10 minutes of play.
Tri-City got itself in penalty trouble late in the period when Jessey Astles was assessed a double minor head butting penalty on the same play Michal Plutnar was whistled for tripping, putting the Americans down two men. The Chiefs would capitalize 45 seconds into the power play with Reid Gows second goal of the season.
After Spokane opened the scoring, Tri-City was still left with 3:15 on Astles’ double minor. But, a Hudson Elynuik roughing penalty would negate the final 1:42 of the power play.
The Americans struggled to get its offense going in the second period, registering just three shots in the middle frame. The team once again found itself in penalty trouble, having to kill off two minor penalties in the first 10 minutes. But, Comrie was able to turn all 10 Spokane shots aside, keeping the Americans within one after 40 minutes.
The Americans began to shift momentum in the final eight minutes of the third period, pushing to even the game at one. Finally, at 14:12 Brian Williams pulled the Americans even with a shot that redirected off of Eric Williams right skate and into the net.
Tri-City had several opportunities to score the go-ahead goal, keeping momentum after its goal but were unable to beat the Spokane net minder in the final five 5:48 of regulation.
After a scoreless overtime period, the game went in shootout. Mitch Holmberg opened the shootout by putting the Chiefs ahead, but Parker Bowles answered right back, scoring on the Americans first shot.
After saves by Comrie in the second and third round, Phil Tot had an opportunity to win the game for the Americans, but was unable to beat Williams. The shootout would come down to the fifth round where a Mike Aviani would score the game winning goal in shootout giving the Chiefs the extra point in the game.
The Americans now depart on a three-game trip through Alberta, starting with the Calgary Hitmen (31-12-2-3, 67 pts.) Wednesday night at the Scotia Bank Saddledome. Fans can catch the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Eric Williams, Spokane
2) Eric Comrie, Tri-City
3) Reid Gow, Spokane