by Ben Tole
February 8, 2014, Kennewick, WA (ISN) – The Tri-City Americans (26-23-2-3, 57 pts.) got off to a rough start, surrendering three goals in a 1:22 span during the first period and never recovered, as the Portland Winterhawks (36-12-2-3, 77 pts.) defeated the Americans 10-3 Friday night at the Toyota Center.
It was the first loss Tri-City had suffered on home ice since the annual New Year’s eve game, snapping a seven-game winning streak at the Toyota Center.
Eric Comrie started the game, registering 18 saves in the first 20 minutes of play, but was replaced by Evan Sarthou to start the second period. Tri-City’s rookie net minder allowed six goals in the final two periods while making 18 saves.
After Jessey Astles’ interference penalty put the Winterhawks on the power play early in the first period, Oliver Bjorkstrand gave Portland a 1-0, taking the pass from Derek Pouliot and beating Comrie.
Meanwhile, the Americans’ offense struggled to get going, failing to record a shot until the five-minute mark, and was out shot 22-9 in the opening 20 minutes.
A Nic Petan goal at 17:51 began a defining three-goal outburst in a 1:22 span, that saw the Winterhawks pull away from the Americans in the late stages of the first period. Alex Schoenborn and Taylor Leier would both add goals during this stretch, as Portland took a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
Tri-City played a stronger second period, registering 10 shots to the Winterhawks’ 11, but could not beat Burke. At 7:24 of the middle frame, Petan extended the lead to 5-0 with his second goal of the contest, taking the pass from Lane Viveiros and snapping it past Sarthou. Schoenborn then made it 6-0 in the late stages of the second period, capitalizing on a Parker Wotherspoon roughing penalty at 18:07.
After Keegan Iverson had made it 7-0 early in the third period, Astles put the Americans on the board at the mid-way point of the period. While on the power play, Astles blasted a shot past Burke from the top of the faceoff circle, for his career-best 7th goal of the season. Then, just 37 seconds later, Michal Plutnar scored to make it a 7-2 game.
Wotherspoon added his second goal of the season, a shorthanded marker at 18:19 to make it 7-3, but that would be as close as the Americans would get. The Winterhawks would add three goals in the final 1:10 to put an exclamation mark on its victory.
The Americans will be back in action tomorrow night, when it welcomes the Spokane Chiefs (31-17-2-2, 66 pts.) to the Toyota Center for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. 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) Nic Petan, Portland
2) Alex Schoenborn, Portland
3) Oliver Bjorkstrand, Portland