The last time Seattle visited the Toyota Center, Tri-City Americans forward Brian Williams took on Thunderbirds tough guy Mitch Elliot, who was almost twice his size.
Tuesday, Williams skipped the fisticuffs and instead scored the first two goals of the game in leading the Americans to a 5-1 victory over the Thunderbirds before an announced crowd of 3,449.
I just do what I need to do, Williams said.
The Americans (28-17-1-2, 59 points) have won eight of their last 11 games and are within one point of fourth-place Spokane in the Western Conference standings.
If you total up all the chances to score, Seattle won that battle, said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team was outshot 27-19. We had a nice finish (around the net).
Rookie Justin Gutierrez also had two goals for the Americans, while fellow rookie Parker Bowles and Justin Feser chipped in two assists each. Feser stretched his point streak to 10 games.
Our young guys continue to make a large impact on our team, Hiller said. I dont know if we can call them young guys anymore because they play so much.
Luke Lee-Knight, getting his seventh consecutive start, is 5-2-0-0 since Eric Comrie was shelved for the season because of a hip injury. He finished with 26 saves.
The Thunderbirds (18-27-2-1, 39 points), who have lost 16 of 18, got their lone goal from Alexander Delnov on a 5-on-3 power play in the second period.
The Americans, who led 1-0 after the first period, scored two quick ones to start the second for a 3-0 lead, chasing Seattle starter Brandon Glover at 5:38.
Williams scored his second of the night for a 2-0 lead at 4:46, and Gutierrez scored at 5:38, tipping the puck past Glover on a shot by Bowles.
It didnt take long for the Americans to break in Seattles No. 2 goalie, Danny Mumaugh.
With just 4:17 of ice time, Mumaugh gave up a goal to Tri-City defenseman Wil Tomchuk, who shot the puck from the left point. It wound its way through the Seattle defense, where Mumaugh kicked it out of harms way so he thought. The puck ricocheted off defenseman Evan Wardleys skate and into the net.
Seattle ended any hope Lee-Knight had of a shutout at 14:08 as Delnov had an open net at the left post for his first goal in six games.
Gutierrez got his second of the night at 16:45 of the third to finish the scoring. He was looking for a hat trick with 30 seconds left in the game on a breakaway, but Mumaugh ended the threat.
Injuries have forced some people to stand up and play a bigger role, Williams said of Gutierrez. Hes made the most of it.
Williams put the Americans on the board midway through the first, picking the puck up off a rebound off a shot by Feser and beating Glover on the power play at 13:03.
Williams has six goals in his last 10 games, and has scored the first goal in three of his last five games.
Its a trend. I like it, Williams said.
Tri-City had a chance to pad its lead with 11 seconds left in the period. Williams, serving a penalty for Ryan Chynoweth, came out of the box and gathered up a loose puck at the red line and went up ice. He slid the puck over to Bowles, who was tripped up and couldnt get a shot off.
The Thunderbirds outshot the Americans 12-8 in the first, but they could not get anything past Lee-Knight.
We have to do a better job putting the puck in their net when we get the chance, Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. When it was 5-on-5 in the first, they didnt have much and we dictated the tempo.
Note: The Prince George Cougars fired coach Dean Clark on Tuesday after 3 1/2 years with the team. Clark was 83-163-5-11 during his tenure. Clark was the sixth coach since Dallas Thompson took over as GM in 2002. The Cougars are expected to name a head coach today.