by Ben Tole
March 15, 2014, Kennewick, WA (ISN) – Eric Comrie earned his fourth shutout of the season, as the Tri-City Americans (29-32-4-6, 68 pts.) took control in the first period and never looked back, defeating the Spokane Chiefs (40-26-3-3, 86 pts.) 3-0 at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.
The Americans concluded the 12-game season series against the arch rival Chiefs with a 4-5-1-2 record, closing out with wins in two of the last three meetings.
The shutout was the ninth of Comrie’s WHL career and, with the 18-save outing, the Alberta native set a new personal best for shutouts in a season.
After scoring two goals in last night’s contest in Spokane, Jessey Astles picked up right where he left off. After he was denied on a partial breakaway, Astles scored on his own rebound, giving his team a 1-0 lead at 14:27 of the first period.
Tri-City contained Spokane’s potent offense, allowing just five shots in the first period, keeping a Chiefs team that includes the WHL’s leading scorer, quiet.
The Americans used its power play to break the game open in the second period, scoring on back-to-back man advantage opportunities. The first was scored by Parker Bowles at the 5:48 mark, burying the rebound after Michal Plutnar’s point shot rang off the goal post. For Bowles, it was his fourth goal in his last three games.
Then at 9:27, Beau McCue gave the Americans a 3-0 lead, taking the pass from Bowles in front of the net and one timing it through the legs of Eric Williams.
McCue’s goal would be the last shot that Williams would see, as he was replaced by Garrett Hughson immediately following the goal. The Chiefs’ backup goaltender would finish the game, racking up 11 saves in just over 30 minutes of action.
While the offense was not able to add to its lead in the third period, the defense remained as sharp as it had been all night, suffocating the Chiefs and holding them to only four shots in the final frame.
With one game remaining in the season, the Americans are locked into the eight seed in the Western Conference and will go up against the Kelowna Rockets (57-11-0-4, 118 pts.). The series starts next Saturday and Sunday night in B.C., before returning to Kennewick for games three and four on the 25th and 26th of March. But first, the Americans will wrap up the regular season tomorrow evening, when the team takes on the Seattle Thunderbirds (40-25-2-4, 86 pts.) for a 5:05 p.m. faceoff. 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) Jessey Astles, Tri-City
2) Parker Bowles, Tri-City
3) Eric Comrie, Tri-City