Photo Credit: John Allen, Arid Acres Photography
Kennewick, WA – In the end, a three-goal first period deficit proved to be too much of a hole for the Americans to dig out of on Friday night.
Mathew Barzal and Ryan Gropp each had a goal and an assist, as the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds (34-23-3-0, 71 pts) held on for a 4-2 win over the Tri-City Americans (29-28-2-1, 61 pts) in front of 4,568 fans at Toyota Center. Win the win, Seattle takes a 4-3 lead in the best-of-10 season series, which has seen the visiting team win the last 4 match-ups. After Kamloops defeated Everett in overtime, the Americans fall to 4 points back of a Wild Card spot.
The T’birds wasted little time jumping out in front, as Cavin Leth got Seattle on the board just 1:43 into the contest. Less than three minutes later, Nolan Volcan made it a 2-0 game following his unassisted marker. Then, at the 11:08 mark and on the power play, Gropp tallied his team-leading 29th goal of the season to make it 3-0.
Tri-City would swap goaltenders after Gropp’s goal, as Nick Sanders replaced Evan Sarthou. The move seems to spark the Americans, although Tri-City couldn’t get anything past Bow in the first 20 minutes. Finally, seven minutes into the second period, and after a series of great saves by Sanders, Nolan Yaremko turned the puck up ice and beat Bow over his shoulder. The goal was Yaremko’s 4th of the season and made it a 3-1 game.
After slipping the puck between Bow’s pads with 3:48 left to play, Michael Rasmussen collected his 13th goal of the season, pulling the Americans to within 1 at 3-2. Unfortunately, it would be as close as Tri-City would get on the night. Barzal wrapped up the scoring at 4:45 of the 3rd, extending Seattle’s lead back to two at 4-2.
Bow finished the night with 27 saves in the win. Meanwhile, Sanders collected 15 saves in relief of Sarthou, whose night ended with 8 saves in the loss. Tri-City went scoreless on their three power play chances, while Seattle finished 1-of-3 on the man-advantage.
The Americans will continue their playoff push tomorrow, Saturday, February 27, when the Prince George Cougars (33-25-3-1) come back to Toyota Center for the final time this season. Game time is 7:05pm.
Jack in the Box 3 Stars:
1. Mathew Barzal, Seattle
2. Ryan Gropp, Seattle
3. Nolan Yaremko, Tri-City