Americans hammer Prince George on Feser's historic night

January 30, 2013 

The Prince George Cougars, six points out of a playoff position, are starving for points, but they didn’t find any at Toyota Center.

Playing his 300th consecutive regular-season game, Justin Feser handed out three assists in leading the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory Wednesday night over Prince George before a crowd of 3,510.

“Things just kind of fell into place for me tonight,” said Feser, who ranks second all-time in the WHL behind Dwayne Newman, who played 311 consecutive games (1988-92). “My linemates (Malte Strömwall and Jesse Mychan) created chances for me.”

Luke Lee-Knight finished with 42 saves for Tri-City (30-19-1-2, 61 points), which moved to within a point of fourth-place Spokane in the Western Conference standings.

“We need that one,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, who picked up his 170th win behind the Americans’ bench. “Two games in a row we lost at home. You have to come back and make a statement. There were a lot of shots on goal and we found the net early.”

Chase Witala scored two goals for the Cougars (15-30-2-4, 36 points), who are 1-3 under new head coach Mark Holick, and in ninth place in the Western Conference.

The Americans scored two highlight reel goals to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.

On the first, Strömwall wheeled around the net, and as he rounded the first corner, he backhanded the puck out in the slot to Mychan, who had an easy goal for his 10th of the season and a 1-0 lead at 6:02.

“Jim told me to watch for that,” Mychan said of the pass. “If the kid can make plays like that, I have to score.”

On the second, Feser skated right past PG defenseman Daniel Gibb at the blue line and had open ice to make a nice cross-ice pass to Strömwall, who beat Brett Zarowny for a 2-0 lead at 8:53.

“After I got past the D-man at the blue line, I saw (Strömwall) out of the corner of my eye. With his speed, I knew he’d be there.”

Leading 2-0 after the first, the Americans added onto their lead early in the second as Michal Plutnar’s shot from the point sent Zarowny’s water bottle flying for a 3-0 lead at 3:23.

Mychan assisted on the goal and added a fight — against two Prince George players — in the third for a Gordie Howe hat trick “It was a fun night,” Mychan said.

The Americans would spend a fair amount of time on the penalty kill midway through the second as Tri-City’s Tyson Dallman was give a 5-minute major for goaltender interference at 10:08.

Zarowny ventured out to the left face-off circle to play the puck and Dallman came streaming in. Dallman tried to avoid Zarowny, but tripped over his leg and they both went down. Zarowny was replaced by Mac Engel.

The Cougars had eight shots on goal, but couldn’t get anything past Lee-Knight, even playing 5-on-3 for 1:14.

Prince George would finally find the net at 19:25 on the power play as Witala’s wraparound found an empty left post — on the Cougars’ 33rd shot of the game. Parker Bowles and Connor Rankin each scored in the third for the Americans, and assisted on each other’s goal.

“If I had to pick one guy, I thought Connor Rankin was good for us tonight,” Hiller said. “He is very competitive.”

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