The Edmonton Oil Kings rolled into the Tri-Cities on Saturday night, a roster chock full of highly drafted players and a hold on first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Tri-City Americans were not impressed. Nor did they feel threatened. Instead, they struck gold against the second-best team in the Western Hockey League.
Jesse Mychan had two goals, Justin Feser had a five-point night with one goal and four assists, and the Americans got 36 saves from Troy Trombley in steamrolling the Oil Kings 8-1 before a crowd of 5,083 at Toyota Center.
Hockey is a game where each and every night a different story unfolds, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. As long as you bring your belief and you compete, you have a chance. Our goalie made some good saves, and we knew hed have to. We battled and we earned our goals.
The Americans (36-22-1-2, 75 points), who have won a season-high five games in a row, held onto fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The Spokane Chiefs are one point back after beating Kamloops 2-0 on Saturday.
This was fun, Mychan said. We came out hard tonight and were physical down low they didnt like to get hit. We outplayed them. With Spokane winning, it makes us want it a little bit more.
Edmonton (43-15-2-3, 91 points) has lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season.
I thought we had a good start, but Tri-City got momentum on the power play, Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal said. This is the not the Edmonton team that has won 43 games. This is our third straight loss. We have to find a way to get out of the doldrums. This was probably our worst game of the year. Take nothing away from Tri-City, they came with energy. This is a tough building to play in.
Holding on to a 1-0 lead after the first period, the Americans reeled off three goals in the second for a 4-1 advantage.
Zach Yuen put Tri-City out front 2-0, taking the puck into the high slot and beating Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit with a backhand shot at 1:44 on the power play.
Henrik Samuelsson scored for Edmonton at 2:19, but it was all Tri-City from there.
Working on the man advantage midway though the second, Beau McCue slipped the puck in at the right post at 12:02 for a 3-1 lead.
And, captain Justin Feser, playing his 310th consecutive game, scored even strength at 16:56 for the three-goal lead.
Mychan and Feser battled in the corner and behind the net to keep control of the puck, and once it squirted out front to Malte Strömwall, he fed the puck to Feser, who found daylight to the right of Brossoit.
With the goal, Feser set a career high for goals in a season with 38, and with an assist, Mychan scored his 50th WHL point.
Connor Rankin open the third period with a goal just 43 seconds into the action as the Americans won their fourth in a row on home ice.
Affiliate player Fraser Bulbuc extended Tri-Citys lead to 6-1 at 8:05 off a nifty feed by Feser.
It was all about the pass, Bulbuc said. I saw him with the puck, but I didnt expect him to pass. Not a lot of guys can make that pass. (My first goal) had to happen sometime, it was just sooner than I expected.
Mychan parlayed a Feser assist into a goal at 9:52, then would add one more goal for good measure with 1 minute remaining in the game.
Feser has been phenomenal for us all year, Mychan said. We feed off him and he helps us all out.
Edmonton controlled the puck for the better part of the first period, taking a 13-6 shot advantage, but Trombley stood tall, stopping every shot.
There wasnt too much for screens or traffic, said Trombley, who won his fifth start in as many chances. It was an easy 37 shots. People talk about who (the Oil Kings) have and their strengths, but they are much like Portland. If we play our game, we can shut them down.
The Americans got on the board late in the first period after being awarded a power play after Mitchell Moroz slashed Trombley after the whistle had blown.
Feser found defenseman Mitch Topping at the top of the circles, and Topping beat Laurent Brossoit over his left shoulder for a 1-0 lead at 18:11 for his 25th career goal.
Notes: Feser played his 340th game with the Americans, putting him second all-time behind Brent Ascroft (355, 1992-97). He will tie the WHL record for consecutive games played (311) Tuesday against Portland. ... With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Americans need four wins to reach 40 wins over seven consecutive seasons to tie a league record with Kamloops (1989-90 to 1995-96) and Regina (1979-80 to 1985-86).