KENNEWICK, WA - The Americans' offensive train kept rolling right along Friday, dispatching its 12th consecutive victim.
Patrick Holland registered his third consecutive 4-point game, while three other skaters recorded 3-point nights, as the Tri-City Americans (31-7-0-0, 62 pts) dropped the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds (16-20-0-1, 33 pts) 7-3 in front of 6,064 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, Tri-City extended their franchise-best winning streak to 12 games, while improving to 18-2 on home ice this season. Meanwhile, Seattle's frustrations continued in Kennewick, falling for the 19th straight time inside the Toyota Center.
The Americans woke-up the third-largest crowd in Toyota Center history first with their nuclear-inspired jerseys, then with two goals in the first 10:49 of the first period. First, 4:51 into the contest, Jordan Messier took a pass from Brendan Shinnimin, then made a fine move to get Seattle starter Daniel Cotton out of position before burying his 13th goal of the season. With the goal, Messier now has 4 goals in his last 3 games. Then, 6 minutes later, Hughesman connected from in the slot for his first of two goals.
Tri-City then used another power surge in the first half of the second period to break the game wide open. Seattle was tagged with two penalties less than a minute apart, putting the potent Americans offense on a 5-on-3 advantage for over a minute. And, with 10 seconds left in the two-man advantage, Hughesman scored again, this time off a rebound of a Holland shot. Just 22 seconds later on that same power play, Tri-City scored again, this time off the stick of team captain, Mason Wilgosh. Finally, at the 8:34 mark of the period, and playing 4-aside, Holland picked up his first of two goals on the evening, knocking back a Brian Williams shot. In all, the Americans scored three times in a span of 1:36 to take a 5-0 lead.
The T'birds, though, which thought they had scored earlier, only to have it overturned when the official signaled the goaltender was pushed into the net, used a penalty shot to finally beat Tri-City goaltender, Eric Comrie. After he was interfered with while shooting, the officials awarded a penalty shot to Colin Jacobs, who found space between Comrie's legs to put Seattle on the board. Then, with 2:10 left in the second, and on the power play, Seattle scored again off the stick of Tyler Alos to make things interesting at 5-2.
Then, early into the third period, Seattle thought they pulled to within two, but rookie Connor Honey had his goal erased following a video review of a shot by Holland. Nearly a minute earlier, Holland had ripped a shot from the point that appeared to go in the net, but the puck hit the back boards and went into the far corner. After Honey's goal finally stopped the clock, the video goal judge determined that Holland's shot in fact went through the net, negating the goal by Honey and putting Tri-City on top 6-2.
With 2 minutes left in regulation, Hughesman nearly capped off a hat trick after his attempt slipped under Cotton. However, the puck stopped in the crease, which allowed Shinnimin to knock it in for his 23rd of the season.
Down by five, Seattle tacked on a late power play marker with 17 seconds remaining, rounding out the scoring in the contest.
Comrie, who was making his first start since returning from the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario, finished the game with 20 saves on 23 shots to improve to 13-3 on the year. Meanwhile, Cotton, who was making just his 4th start of his young WHL career, picked up 38 saves in the loss. Both teams finished 2-for-4 on the power play, marking the first time Tri-City's top-ranked penalty kill had allowed multiple power play goals since Nov. 30, a span of 11 games.
Tri-City will now take their winning streak on the road, as they wrap-up their three-games-in-four-nights stretch tomorrow, January 7 against the Everett Silvertips (7-23-1-7). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at Comcast Arena. Tri-City, which won the most recent meeting, a 5-1 decision back on Dec. 10, leads the 8-game season series 2-1. Everett, meanwhile, comes in having lost 8 of their last 10. Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL Live, at Kimo's, the Americans' home away from home, starting at 7:05 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
Applebee's 3 Stars:
1, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City
2, Patrick Holland, Tri-City
3, Brian Williams, Tri-City