Hockey: Comrie, Williams lead Tri-City past Seattle

October 1, 2013 

Ams vs Seattle

Tri-City Americans goalie Eric Comrie makes a point blank save on a shot by Seattle’s Mathew Barzal during the first period of their game Tuesday night at the Toyota Center.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

It was Two-for-Tuesday with the Tri-City Americans. Two tickets for the price of one, $2 beers and two goals by Brian Williams in the second period.

Williams finished the night with three goals, and Eric Comrie finished with 30 saves as the Americans shut out the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-0 before a weekday crowd of 3,078 at the Toyota Center.

“We fought hard to win and blocked a lot of shots,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. “Any time you win it feels good. We were a little short the last two games, losing in the shootout and by one (goal) to Spokane. It doesn’t feel good when you come close and lose.”

Williams leads the WHL in goals with eight, along with Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg, and he is the first player in the league with two hat tricks — all in his last four games.

“He has been so focused since the start of camp,” Hiller said. “It’s nice to see a guy work hard and get rewarded. He’s getting what he deserves right now.”

For Comrie, it was his sixth career shutout.

“A shutout is a team effort,” Comrie said. “It starts with the forwards on back to the defensemen. The defensemen were unbelievable, the forwards were backchecking really hard and the (penalty killers) have been on fire lately.”

With two goals to his credit, Williams was quick to complete his second career hat trick on the first shift of the third period.

Justin Gutierrez hit Seattle’s Jerret Smith along the boards, knocking the puck loose. Williams gathered it up and took it to the net, beating Thunderbirds goalie Justin Myles just 18 seconds into the period.

“I definitely owe it to my linemates, Connor (Rankin) and Gutz (Gutierrez),” Williams said. “They get me the puck in the greatest places. Justin hit the guy, if he doesn’t do that, I don’t score.”

Both Rankin and Gutierrez had two assists on the night.

After a scoreless first period, Williams ended the scoring drought in the second at 6:34 on the power play.

Rankin sent the puck up ice to Williams, who skated in on Myles and swept the puck across the crease and into the net for his sixth goal of the season.

“When Brian scored that first goal and got the building into it, that’s what we’ve been lacking,” Hiller said of the Americans’ fan support. “We hadn’t scored the first at home. When we score there is so much energy in the building. That was a big moment for us.”

Six minutes later, Williams found the net again, this time using some fancy stick work to pick up his seventh goal.

Rankin, who was on the ground in the left corner, slid the puck out to Williams at the side of the net. Williams motored around the net, skated halfway up the right wall, then cut in the slot between two Seattle players and blasted the puck past Myles.

“Brian is the best player in the league right now,” Comrie said. “Such great hands, such a good release. I got to witness first hand how hard he worked this summer. We skated together and he was a beast in the gym. It’s really paying off right now.”

The Americans killed off six Seattle power plays, including one the last two minutes of the game. The Thunderbirds made it a 6-on-4 man advantage, pulling Myles, but nothing got past Comrie.

“It has to be so frustrating to shoot on him,” Williams said. “He makes it look so easy. He’s at one side of the net, then the other making a save. I didn’t expect any less watching him in the offseason. He always brings it.”

The Americans (2-3-0-1), whose two wins have come on a Tuesday, will play at Everett on Friday and at Victoria on Sunday.

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