Americans Drop Game One to SeattlePosted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, WA - For all the pomp and circumstance...for all the records and streaks...for a team that just set the franchise mark for wins in a season...you would not have guessed it was the Tri-City Americans on Friday night.
Playing conservative and tight all night, the young Tri-City Americans (0-1-0-0, 0 pts) showed their play-off inexperience as the Seattle Thunderbirds (1-0-0-0, 2 pts) skated to a 2-0 victory at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. The loss gave Seattle the early 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and snapped the Americans 14-game home winning streak to close out the regular season. Coincidently, the last time Tri-City lost at home, they were shutout by the Kootenay Ice back on January 5.
The Americans, in an unfamiliar position of being the favorite to win the series, came out tentative and, at times, looked shell-shocked. Tri-City managed only three shots in the third period and 19 in the game, while spending nearly a periods-worth of time (18 minutes) in penalty killing situations. Seattle net minder Derek Yeomans, with 33 games of post-season play under his pads, shined in the contest, taking away what few chances Tri-City could muster.
Finally, after two scoreless periods of play and on the power play, the T'birds broke the stalemate. Seattle's Jan Eberle came in on Tri-City goaltender Carey Price as part of a two-on-one situation with teammate Bud Holloway. Price came out of the net to challenge Eberle and, after poke-checking the puck off to the side, found himself out of position on Holloway. Holloway corralled the puck and shot it into the net for the only goal Seattle needed.
Tri-City head coach Don Nachbaur called timeout with 1:06 remaining in regulation as Price was pulled for the extra attacker. The plan backfired as Seattle's Brett Robertson connected with the empty net for his second point of the evening. Price, the game's second star, stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced in the loss. The T'birds finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Tri-City continued to struggle on the man-advantage, going 0-for-4.
Seattle, winners of 15 of their last 18 games, is 6-1 when taking Game 1 in the First Round of the WHL Playoffs over the past 10 seasons. However, their one series loss came last season, when they eventually lost to the Portland Winter Hawks in seven games.
The two teams will head right back to the Toyota Center, tomorrow, Saturday, March 24 for Game 2 of their First Round series. Game time is 7:05 PM. Single-game tickets are on sale for Game 2 through all TicketsWest locations, including Red Lion Hotels, by calling 1-800-325-SEAT (7328), by visiting amshockey.com, or by stopping by the Toyota Center box office. You can catch the Americans' play-off drive, live on NewsTalk 870 AM. The broadcast starts with the Budweiser Warm-Up Show, which begins 15 minutes before game time.