TRI-CITY GETS BACK TO WINNING WAYS; KNOCKS OFF BLAZERS 3-1Posted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, WA - It's hard to say that a team with 39 wins and sitting atop the conference standings is in a must-win situation. But, in the midst of a three-game losing skid and with a division lead quickly evaporating, the Tri-City Americans faced just that on Sunday night.
But, behind Drew Owsley's 28-save performance and goals from Tyler Schmidt, Mason Wilgosh and Brooks Macek, the Tri-City Americans (40-15-1-2, 83 pts) became the first team in the Western Conference to 40 wins, as they took down the visiting Kamloops Blazers (27-28-2-4, 60 pts) 3-1 in front of 4,503 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, Tri-City swept the four-game season series with the Blazers, outscoring their opponent 24 to 6. Meanwhile, the Blazers have lost six of their last 10 as they continue to jockey for playoff positioning within the conference standings.
After both teams played extra hockey the night before, Tri-City and Kamloops showed no ill effects as they came out firing in the first period. Combining for 23 shots in the period, the Americans used the power play to get on the board first. At the 11:33 mark of the period and from the corner, Adam Hughesman sent a feed to Schmidt who buried his shot from the slot, giving Tri-City the early lead.
But, just over five minutes later and on the power play, Blazers defenseman Linden Saip fired a shot from the left point that deflected off Schmidt's stick and between the pads of Owsley, tying the game at 1.
The back-and-forth pace continued into the second period, with Tri-City outchancing Kamloops 15 to 13. Only 3:03 into the period, Wilgosh let a shot go from the right circle that bounced off Jon Groenheyde's right pad, then off the goal post and into the net, giving the Americans a 2-1 lead.
Tri-City gave themselves additional breathing room to start the third period, as Jordan Messier picked off Bronson Maschmeyer in the Blazers' zone and then found Macek on the door step, who cashed in for his 15th goal of the season. After that, the Tri-City defense took over, not allowing a Kamloops shot on goal until the 16-minute mark and only four shots in the entire period. At the 17:32 mark of the period, the Americans missed out on making it a 4-1 game after a goal was overturned by the video goal judge. After reviewing the play, it was ruled that the net was knocked off its moorings prior to the puck crossing the goal line, thus voiding the goal. But, over the final 1:50 and with Groenheyde pulled for the extra attacker, the Blazers could get nothing past Owsley and the Americans' defense.
Groenheyde finished the night with 33 saves on 36 shots in the loss. Meanwhile, Owsley notched his League-leading 32nd win of the season. Both teams finished 1-for-3 on the power play.