Ams fall to Victoria 4-3 in WHL hockey shootout

By Annie Fowler, Tri-City HeraldOctober 7, 2012 

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Goalies scoring goals is rare. Teams scoring on their own empty net might even be more of a rare feat.

Fortunately for the Victoria Royals, they were able to overcome their blunder Saturday night, rallying beat the Tri-City Americans 4-3 in a shootout before a crowd of 3,925 at Toyota Center.

"It's a disappointing finish, but a really good effort on our part," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "Shootouts are great when you win, but it's not a way to judge a hockey game. We are doing what we can."

The Americans (3-3-0-1, 7 points) continue their four games-in-five-nights week, playing today in Everett.

Logan Nelson, who had two goals in regulation, scored the game-winner in the shootout for Victoria (5-2-0-0, 10 points), which will play at Vancouver today.

"This gives us confidence going into our third game in four days," Nelson said. "We need to work to get better in the first and second periods, but fortunately for us, we worked it out."

Tri-City held a 3-2 lead going into the third period, and held the Royals off the board until the waning seconds, when Nelson took a pass from Alex Gogolev in the slot and scored his second of the night with 34.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

"We had a chance to clear and reset and we didn't," Hiller said. "Give them credit. That's the game. It's wonderful when you are on the other side."

After a scoreless overtime, Nelson was the only player in the shootout to score. Royals goalie Jared Rathjen denied Parker Bowles, Brian Williams and Justin Feser.

Victoria had a 1-0 lead at the time of its own goal, getting a power-play goal by Brandon Magee at 1:11 of the second.

Then things took a turn for the bizarre.

Victoria, which had a breakaway broken up by Tri-City defenseman Zach Yuen, pulled goalie Jared Rathjen for an extra attacker as Yuen would be called for slashing at the next stoppage of play.

On the delayed penalty, the Royals worked the puck around to the back of the net, where Jamie Crooks sent the puck back out front. The only problem, was no one was there to pick it up.

As the puck slid down the ice, Victoria's Tyler Stahl gave chase, but the puck found the net before Stahl could catch up.

"I've seen that on ESPN's Top 10 weird plays," Nelson said, "but we didn't let it get to us. We played a team game the rest of the game."

Williams, the last Americans player to touch the puck, was credited with the goal. By the time the puck was in the net, Williams was on the bench.

The quirky play was a first for Hiller.

"I've never seen it before, and I'm old," Hiller said.

Tri-City took the freebie and parlayed it into a lead as Feser scored on the power play at 16:35 for a 2-1 advantage.

Nelson would tie the game two minutes later on the power play as the Americans failed on two attempts to clear the puck.

Connor Rankin would give the Americans a 3-2 lead with just 20 seconds left in the period, redirecting a shot from the point by Mitch Topping, who had two assists on the night.

In physical first period, the Americans held a 13-11 shot advantage with both goalies making some nice stops.

Just one minute into the game, Magee was denied at the left post by Comrie. Rathjen repaid the favor 22 seconds later, quashing an opportunity Jordan Messier.

Rathjen turn Feser away with a nice pad save at 3:36, and Comrie stopped a breakaway by Gogolev at 12:01.

Comrie finished with 27 saves and stopped two of three shots in the shootout.

* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574;

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