(ISN) – Prince George, B.C.- After losing three straight games to start 2015, the Tri-City Americans (19-19-0-2, 40 pts) earned its first win of the new year, defeating the Prince George Cougars (20-22-0-0, 40 pts) 5-3 in front of 2,294 fans at the CN Centre on Wednesday night.
Prince George jumped out to a lead early in the first period, as Josh Anderson scored his first career WHL goal to put the Cougars ahead 1-0. Midway through the first, the Americans tied the game, with Taylor Vickerman deflecting a pass from Morgan Geekie into the net to even the score at one. The Americans had a shot advantage in the period, 7-6, and had the momentum going into the second period.
But it was Prince George gaining a lead early in the second period, as Zach Pochiro scored less than two minutes into the period to give the Cougars the lead once again, 2-1. The Americans answered immediately, as Jordan Topping found a loose puck in front of the net and fired a shot into a wide open net to even the score at two. Late in the period, Tri-City found its first lead of the game, as Justin Gutierrez scored on the power play to give the Americans a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
Prince George fought to get the tying goal, but the Americans were able to gain a two goal edge midway through the third period. Nolan Yaremko scored his first career WHL goal and point to give Tri-City a 4-2 lead. The Cougars pressed even harder to get a goal to get back into the game, and found a goal from Brad Morrison on the power play with less than six minutes left in the game. Prince George tried to get the tying goal and peppered Evan Sarthou with shots, but Sarthou held off the Cougars late charge, and Richard Nejezchleb scored an empty net goal with eight seconds left to secure an Americans win.
Tri-City snaps a four game losing streak and a six game road losing streak.
Richard Nejezchleb has a six game point streak and Taylor Vickerman has goals in two straight games.
The Americans were 1-of-4 with the man advantage and spent 16 minutes in the penalty box. Prince George converted 1-of-3 power play chances and recorded 20 penalty minutes.
Evan Sarthou made 33 saves in the win, while Ty Edmonds stopped 21 shots in the loss.
The Americans will make the long drive back to the Tri-Cities and have a day off before they face the Seattle Thunderbirds (19-16-2-2, 42 pts) at the Toyota Center on Friday, Jan. 9. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. Tri-City lost the last meeting against the Thunderbirds in Kent on Jan. 2, 3-2, in a shootout. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations, including the Toyota Center Box Office, all Fred Meyer outlets or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars
1. Chase Witala, Prince George
2. Aaron Boyd, Prince George
3. Josh Anderson, Prince George