HOCKEY: Americans fall 4-1 to Portland

Tri-City HeraldDecember 9, 2012 

The Portland Winterhawks were quick to put Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Tri-City Americans behind them.

Nic Petan scored two goals and Derrick Pouliot had a goal and two assists as the Winterhawks dominated from start to finish in beating the Americans 4-1 before a Sunday crowd of 3,973 at Toyota Center.

“It’s a tough part of the schedule,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team is 5-5-0-0 in its last 10 games that have featured matchups against Spokane, Kamloops, Kelowna and Portland. “We have been playing the upper echelon of teams in the league. We just have to keep our play steady.”

The U.S. Division-leading Winterhawks (25-5-1-0, 51 points) are tied atop the Western Conference with Kamloops, while the Americans (18-12-1-1, 38 points) are third in the U.S. Division and fifth in the conference with three games left before the holiday break.

Portland led 2-1 after the first, but extended its lead to 4-1 early in the second, scoring a pair of power-play goals just 21 seconds apart.

Petan scored his second of the night, finding an open net to the left of Americans goalie Eric Comrie on a 5-on-3 man advantage at 3:57.

Petan is third in league scoring with 53 points.

“Nic is a good little player,” said Portland assistant coach Travis Green, who is filling in for head coach Mike Johnston, who was suspended by the WHL for the remainder of the season. “He has become an elite player in the league.”

Working 5-on-4, the Winterhawks went out front 4-1 as Seth Jones’ blast from the right point flew past Comrie and into the net at 4:18.

The Americans, who had five shots on goal in the first, had five again in the second as the Winterhawks dominated play.

Tri-City outshot Portland 16-10 in the third, and had four power plays, but Brendan Burke and the Winterhawks continued their stingy play.

“In the third we were desperate and snarly,” Hiller said. “That needed to be there from the drop of the puck. It’s tough to play against them. We have to be prepared. It’s not going to be a pretty game against them — ever.”

The Winterhawks dictated play in the first, keeping the Americans’ defense busy as they kept the puck in Tri-City’s zone for a good portion of the first 20 minutes of the game.

Petan opened the scoring for Portland with a power play goal at 8:04, taking a pass from Pouliot, splitting the Americans’ defense and sweeping the puck into the net past Comrie.

Pouliot added a goal of his own at 15:19, beating Comrie with a blast from the point for a 2-0 lead. Comrie finished with 32 saves

The Americans cut the deficit in half a minute later. Michal Plutnar sent the puck to the net from the high slot, and Beau McCue got his stick on the rebound at the top of the crease and flipped the puck into the net for his ninth goal of the season and his fourth this month.

Note: The Americans host Everett on Tuesday in their final home game before the holiday break. Fans who bring a new or gently used children’s book, or nonperishable food items to the game, will be entered to win a NOOK Color Tablet.

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