AMERICANS: Kamloops rallies for victory

Tri-City HeraldJanuary 18, 2013 

Losing your starting goaltender for the remainder of the season can have an affect on a team, but the sooner the Tri-City Americans get past the loss of Eric Comrie, the better.

Colin Smith had two goals in the third period and Kamloops rallied from a 1-0 deficit to hand the Tri-City Americans a 4-1 loss Friday night before a crowd of 4,772 at Toyota Center.

“We are certainly disappointed for Eric, but that is a separate issue,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. “We didn’t play the way we needed to against one of the top teams in the league. We played at half speed and they were at full speed.”

Tri-City (26-17-1-2, 55 points), which had its three-game win streak snapped, remains 2 points behind fourth-place Spokane in the Western Conference standings.

The Chiefs, who dropped a 4-2 home game to Kelowna on Friday, host the Americans tonight.

Kamloops (30-13-2-3, 65 points), coming off a pair of road losses to Victoria, evened its series record with Tri-City at 2-2.

“We’ve been on a little bit of a skid lately,” Smith said. “We wanted to get back on track before we go home. Before Christmas, teams are getting settled in, but every game after Christmas is a big game.”

The Blazers, who trailed 1-0 after the first period, took advantage of sloppy by the Americans to score two quick goals to take a 2-1 lead in the second.

Matt Needham tied the score at 1-1 at 1:52, while Chase Souto gave the Blazers the lead at 4:49.

Kamloops kept Tri-City goalie Luke Lee-Knight busy in the second as the Blazers outshot the Americans 13-3.

Lee-Knight had a nice stop on a breakaway by Brendan Ranford at 17:19.

Smith scored at 3:13 and 7:58 of the third, with his second goal coming at the start of a 5-minute power play after Tri-City’s Lukas Walter was called for a check to the head on Kamloops’ Joel Edmundson.

“It’s been tough to score goals lately,” said Smith, who had but three goals and two assists in his last eight games. “It’s not just me. You just have to stay with it.”

Jesse Mychan who has been on a tear lately, extended his goal streak to three games, putting the Americans on the board at 2:30 of the first with a power-play goal.

The Americans had put two shots on goal and Kamloops’ Dylan Willick attempted to clear the puck out the slot, but fanned on the puck. Mychan, who was behind Willick, gathered up the puck and beat Taran Kozun high glove side.

“The hockey gods are on my side here in the second half,” Mychan said. “That’s what the team expects of me. We’ve had a tough day. Eric is a great kid, but we have to find a way around it.”

Lee-Knight, who will take over in goal for Comrie, finished with 29 saves.

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