Dan Mulhausen Tri-City Americans
The well-traveled T'birds, who have played 22 of their first 29 games on the road while their new arena is being completed, have lost in three previous trips to Kennewick this season, allowing an average of 5.67 goals against in those contests. Unfortunately for Seattle, that trend continued on Friday night.
Jason Reese registered his fourth-career hat trick and Mitch Fadden added four assists as the red-hot Tri-City Americans (21-7-0-2, 44 pts) ran past the Seattle Thunderbirds (12-14-1-2, 27 pts) 6-1 in front of 3,600 fans at Toyota Center. The win was the seventh straight victory for Tri-City, who improved their home record to 14-1 this season. It also gives them six straight home wins over Seattle and snapped the T'birds three-game winning streak.
The first 20 minutes looked like your typical Tri-City/Seattle game, with each team launching nine shots on goal and receiving one power play opportunity. The difference, however, was that Tri-City connected on their chance late into the period. With 1:38 remaining in the period, Jordan Messier netted his third goal of the season, beating Seattle goaltender Jacob DeSerres and putting Tri-City on top 1-0 going into the first break.
Although, for a series known for being tight, the Americans stepped on the gas in the second period. At the 5:18 mark of the period, newly acquired defenseman Brock Sutherland netted his first WHL goal and point, giving the Americans a 2-0 lead. Just 1:25 later, Reese put back his first of the night to make it a three-goal lead.
Seattle finally got on the board, just seven seconds into their second power play opportunity of the night, as David Richard buried a shot past Chet Pickard. This season, Richard, who has eight goals on the year, has now tallied three against the Americans. However, it proved to be the only offense Seattle could muster.
Tri-City responded with two power play goals, seven minutes apart and off the sticks of Reese and Kruise Reddick, to take a 5-1 lead into the third period. Then, with 6:01 remaining in the third period, Reese completed the hat trick to cap the scoring in the contest. Tri-City finished the night 3-of-4 on the power play, while Seattle was 1-of-2 on the man-advantage. DeSerres collected 28 saves on 34 shots faced, while Pickard stopped 22 of the 23 shots he saw.
The Americans will get another stiff test tomorrow, Saturday, December 6, as the Eastern Conference-leading Calgary Hitmen make their lone Toyota Center appearance of the regular season. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Last year's contest between the two division leaders went to a shootout, where the Americans would eventually prevail, 3-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. Tri-City is 7-10-0-0 with one tie all-time against the Hitmen, but are 4-4 at home and have won their previous two meeting with Calgary.
Tomorrow night's contest is also the Americans' annual Teddy Bear Toss night, where fans are encouraged to bring new and/or gently used stuffed animals to the game. After the Americans score their first goal of the night, fans can throw their stuffed animals onto the ice, where they will be collected and distributed to various charities throughout the Mid-Columbia. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. Those unable to make it to the rink can catch all the action live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.