Kennewick, WA- After clinching a playoff berth last night, the Americans have their sights set on the fourth seed in the conference.
Justin Feser made sure of a Tri-City Americans (34-22-1-2, 71 pts) win, scoring a hat-trick as the Americans held off a comeback attempt by the Vancouver Giants (15-44-2-0, 32 pts) in the final minutes of the game to earn a 5-4 win in front of 3,386 at the Toyota Center.
With the win, Tri-City jumps over Spokane into fourth place in the Western Conference with a one point lead over the Chiefs.
The Americans swept the season series against Vancouver 4-0 and Tri-City has won three straight overall.
Tri-City started off strong, getting on the score sheet first. Jesse Mychan fired a shot at the net and was denied, but Malte Strmwall was there to clean up the rebound, putting the puck in the net to take a 1-0 lead. The Americans took a 2-0 lead later in the period on the power play as Feser fired a wrist shot into a tight window over Jared Rathjen's right shoulder to score. Vancouver was able to get on the board late in the period as Blake Orban slipped a puck through Troy Trombley's legs to cut the lead to one. Each team had 11 shots in the period but the Americans had the lead after the first.
The Americans came out and increased the lead back to two early. Connor Rankin brought the puck into the zone, dropped it off for Parker Bowles who skated towards the right face-off circle to open up a shooting lane and fire it into the net. The Giants came right back and cut the lead to 3-2 as Jackson Houck dropped off the puck for Cain Franson in front of the net, snapping a shot into the goal on the power play. Tri-City answered with a goal. Strmwall was denied on a breakaway but Feser was there to put home the rebound to score his second of the game and increase the lead to 4-2 after two periods.
Vancouver came out looking to tie the game. The Giants cut the lead to 4-3 seven minutes into the third as Houck got the puck past Trombley on the power play. A golden opportunity came up for Vancouver to tie the game as the Americans took a power play midway through the period. But the captain shut the door on the Giants by picking up a loose puck, skating past a defender and slipping the puck into the goal shorthanded to complete the hat trick and take a 5-3 lead. Vancouver fought hard to tie the game, as Houck scored his second of the game with just over two minutes left in the game. Trombley held strong in the net down the stretch and the Americans defense was able to hold on to secure the win.
Feser recorded his third hat trick of the season and his second against the Giants.
The Americans were 1-for-3 on the power play tonight, but continued to be poor on the penalty kill at home, allowing the Giants to convert 2-of-5 chances.
Trombley made 27 saves in the win while Rathjen made 24 saves in the loss.
Tri-City will play game three of the six game home stand as they welcome the Everett Silvertips (21-34-1-4, 47 pts) to the Toyota Center on Friday, February 22 for the Eighth Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. The Americans are 5-2 all-time on BCA Night, winning last season 4-1 over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Tri-City has played Everett eight times this season, with the Americans coming out on top in six of those contests. NewsTalk 870 will broadcast the game starting at 6:45 p.m. with the pregame show. WHL Live will stream the game online beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Toyota Center Box Office, any Fred Meyer outlet, at any Ticketmaster location or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Justin Feser, Tri-City
2. Jackson Houck, Vancouver
3. Malte Strmwall, Tri-City
Photo Credit is John Allen