Three-Goal 2nd Powers Portland Past Tri-City 5-3Posted: Updated:
PORTLAND, OR – The War of Attrition has taken its toll on the Americans’ line-up as of late and, even more, it’s turned the race for the U.S. Division title into a 16-game sprint to the finish.
Despite a valiant, season-high 45-save effort by Ty Rimmer, the Tri-City Americans (38-15-1-2, 79 pts) ran out of gas against the high-octane Portland Winterhawks (38-15-2-1, 79 pts), dropping a 5-3 decision in front of 2,982 fans at the Memorial Coliseum. With the win, the ‘Hawks earned their 4th straight win overall, and third straight against the Americans, while pulling into a dead heat with Tri-City atop the division standings. Meanwhile, the Americans dropped their second straight game, falling to 6-8-1-2 since Kamloops snapped their franchise-high 13-game winning streak on January 11.
Coming off a disheartening shootout loss to Vancouver last night at home, the Americans appeared to be in way over their heads to start Wednesday’s game. The ‘Hawks rushed out to a 25 to 7 shot advantage in the first period, aided by four power play opportunities. And, had it not been for the play of Rimmer, the Americans could have found themselves trailing by a lot more than 2 midway through the first period.
Only 4:17 into the contest, Portland used their top-ranked power play to take the 1-0 lead as Sven Bartschi connected on Ty Rattie’s pass from inside the slot. Then, 4:31 later, Rimmer turned aside a blast by Josh Hanson, only to watch the rebound go straight to Oliver Gabriel, who deposited the puck into a near empty net.
Already down by two, the Americans mounted a rally to cap the first 20 minutes of play. With 4:37 left in the frame, and back on the penalty kill, Patrick Holland swiped the puck from Marcel Noebels and headed down the ice. Brendan Shinnimin quickly joined the rush and, after taking a pass from Holland, buried a shot on Mac Carruth to get the Americans on the board. Then, less than a minute later, and on their own power play, Tri-City pulled even to stun the crowd. On one knee from the slot, Jordan Messier shoveled Shinnimin’s pass over Carruth and had it drop just over the line for his 17th marker of the season.
But, a three-goal second period by Portland dug a hole too big for Tri-City to climb out. Just 5:06 into the second, and on a 3-on-2 breakaway, Noebels redeemed himself by beating Rimmer inside the right post for his 14th tally of the year. Then, with 5:32 left in the period, and following an Americans turnover, Bartschi fed Troy Rutkowski, who connected for his 11th of the campaign. Finally, with 34 seconds left in the frame, and on the power play, Brad Ross was credited with his 33rd goal after his shot ricocheted off the stick of Zachary Yuen and past Rimmer.
Inside the final minute of regulation, Connor Rankin tacked on a goal to make it a 5-3 game, but it was as close as Tri-City could get in the final period of play.
After stopping 23 of 26 shots, Carruth picked up his league-leading 35th win of the season. Meanwhile, Rimmer stopped 45 of the career-high 50 shots he faced while suffering just his 10th regulation loss of the season. Tri-City finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play, while Portland went 2-of-7 on the man-advantage.
Following a day off tomorrow on the west side of the state, the Americans will return to action on Friday, February 17 when they travel to ShoWare Center for a meeting with the Seattle Thunderbirds (20-34-1-1).