Feser Does It Again, Americans Rally for 2-1 OT Win Over GiantsPosted: Updated:
By Dan Mulhausen, Tri-City Americans
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Who cares what the schedule says, as far as the Western Conference is concerned, the 2012 WHL Playoffs might as well have already started.
Ty Rimmer kicked aside 26 shots before Justin Feser scored the game-winner two minutes into overtime, and the visiting Tri-City Americans (47-17-1-2, 97 pts) rallied for a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Giants (37-25-2-3, 79 pts) in front of 8,536 fans inside Pacific Coliseum. With the win, the Americans vaulted back into the top spot in the division, conference and WHL thanks, in part, to Kamloops defeating Portland tonight. Meanwhile, the Giants picked up an important point, as they kept pace with their first-round opponent, Spokane, in the race for home ice to start the post-season.
Despite two penalty kills in the 1st period, the Giants peppered Rimmer often, out-chancing the visitors 12 to 4 through the first 20 minutes. And just 5:07 into the contest, one of those 12 managed to slip past Rimmer to start the scoring. Shortly after he stretched to keep the puck in the Vancouver zone, Matt Bellerive sent the puck over to Dalton Sward, who carried it into the right corner. From there, Sward threw a shot towards the net that would glance off the left pad of Rimmer and roll across the line.
However, it proved to be the only blemish on Rimmer's otherwise first-star effort on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, as the game progressed, space remained a valuable commodity on the ice, with neither team generating double-digit shot totals the rest of the night. But, with 3:26 left in the 2nd period, a great second effort by Adam Hughesman knotted the game at 1. Following a feed from Drydn Dow out of the corner, Hughesman corralled the puck in the slot and made a nice move on Adam Morrison. However, Morrison was able to just get his skate on the puck, kicking it towards the near post. Hughesman, though, stayed with the play and pushed the rebound past Morrison for his 41st goal of the season.
After a couple of near-misses for both sides, the game eventually was decided in overtime.
Inside the first minute of the extra session, Rimmer came up with a game-saver on Brendan Gallagher, who redirected a pass out of the corner by Jordan Martinook. Seconds later, though, Martinook tripped up Dow to put the Americans back on the power play. And, two minutes into the overtime, Feser fired a blast from the right circle, beating Morrison over his blocker, for his 36th marker of the season and second straight game-winning goal.
Rimmer, who stopped 26 of 27, improved to 6-1 in his last 7 starts while earning his 28th win of the season. Meanwhile, Morrison finished with 18 saves on 20 shots in the tough-luck loss. Tri-City finished the night 1-for-7 on the power play and was a perfect 2-of-2 on the penalty kill.
The Americans will now get a day off Thursday to prepare for their final road game of the regular season on Friday, March 9 against the Spokane Chiefs (35-22-5-4). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Arena. Tri-City, winners of 8 of their last 10, enters Friday having won 3 straight games vs. the Chiefs, including wins in their last two trips to Spokane. Meanwhile, after winning 3 in a row, the Chiefs have dropped their last two games, one in overtime and one in a shootout.