(ISN) – Kennewick, WA- In a must-win scenario, the Tri-City Americans (29-35-0-3, 61 pts) showed they are ready to make a run at the playoffs, beating the Prince George Cougars (28-35-2-3, 61 pts) 7-4 in front of 4,749 at Toyota Center on Friday night.
Prince George got the first goal early in the period, as David Soltes fired home a loose puck to put the Cougars up 1-0. Tri-City was outshot 13-8 in the first period and looked to get something going in the second period.
Early in the second, Prince George scored again, this time on a shot from Josh Connolly that popped up into the air and fell into the goal for a 2-0 lead. Tri-City answered a few minutes later, as Ty Comrie put home a rebound to cut the Prince George lead to 2-1. Midway through the period, the Americans tied the game on the power play as Richard Nejezchleb slipped a pass from behind the net to Brian Williams, one-timing a shot into the twine. And about a minute later, Tri-City took the lead, as a loose puck in front of the Prince George net was slapped home by Maxwell James to put the Americans ahead 3-2. Later in the period, the Cougars were able to answer, as Chase Witala scored on a breakaway to even the score at three. But Tri-City answered again, as Justin Hamonic fired a shot from the point that deflected off Jordan Topping and into the goal for the one-goal lead after two periods.
Early in the third period, Tri-City tried to pull away from the Cougars, as Justin Gutierrez got on the board to put the Americans ahead 5-3. Lucas Nickles added a goal a few minutes later to put Tri-City up by three goals. But Prince George would not go away quietly, as Zach Pochiro answered with a goal on the power play midway through the period to cut the lead to two goals. The Americans sealed the win with a late empty net goal from Nickles to help Tri-City earn two points.
With the win and a Kamloops win against Kelowna tonight, Tri-City, Kamloops and Prince George are all tied with 61 points.
The Americans defeat the Cougars in the season series, 3-1 and snap a two-game losing streak. Tri-City had 10 players’ record points tonight, including six players with multi-point games.
Tri-City spent 22 minutes in the penalty box and was 1-of-4 on the power play. Prince George was 1-of-8 on the power play and recorded 14 penalty minutes.
Eric Comrie made 36 saves in the win while Ty Edmonds and Tavin Grant combined for 29 saves in the loss.
Tri-City is back in action this Saturday, March 14, against the Spokane Chiefs (33-29-3-1, 70 pts) at Spokane Arena. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. The Americans lost the last meeting between the two teams, 8-1, at Spokane Arena on Feb. 28. Listen to the game on NewsTalk 870 or watch the game through WHL Live or at Kimo’s, your Americans home away from home.
Jack in the Box Three Stars
1. Justin Gutierrez, Tri-City
2. Lucas Nickles, Tri-City
3. Ty Comrie, Tri-City