Hockey: Americans' Comrie sharp in loss to Thunderbirds

December 10, 2013 

seattle americans ams hockey whl

Seattle's Justin Hickman collides with Tri-City's Connor Rankin on Tuesday, as Seattle defeated the Americans 3-1 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Seattle Thunderbirds were lighting the lamp for an average of 5.3 goals a games during their current six-game win streak.

Tri-City goalie Eric Comrie slowed their production Tuesday night, but without help at the other end, the Thunderbirds continued their winning ways.

Comrie had 29 saves and allowed two goals, but that’s all Seattle needed for a 3-1 victory over the Americans before a crowd of 3,312 at Toyota Center.

“We needed Eric to make three or four remarkable saves and that’s what he does,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. “He gave us a chance. We had chances at the end, but we are having a tough time scoring. That is obvious. Our structure and effort wasn’t good enough.”

Seattle (19-9-1-3, 42 points) ran its win streak to seven and moved into fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

“We know how hard it is to win in this building,” said Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk. “They are a very good defensive hockey team with a good goaltender. They made us work for our goals, that’s for sure.”

The Americans (17-14-1-2, 37 points) lost on a Tuesday for the first time this season. They were 6-0-0-0 before the Thunderbirds came to town.

Tied at 1-all going into the third, the Thunderbirds took the lead for good on a goal by Mathew Barzal at 2:50.

Seth Swenson had shot the puck from the edge of the face-off circle and Comrie made the save, but the puck skipped off Comrie and ricocheted off Barzal and into the net. The goal was reviewed to make sure it didn’t hit off Barzal’s hand before it was allowed.

Seattle added an empty goal by Roberts Lipsbergs with 35 seconds left in the game after the Americans pulled Comrie for an extra attacker.

“They work hard, like our coach said, but we are on a good winning streak now and we are confident,” said Lipsbergs, who leaves later this week for Latvia’s camp for the World Junior Championship. “We play as hard as we can.”

After a less-than-productive first period, the Thunderbirds took charge of the second with a goal by Lipsbergs, who put the puck over Comrie’s left shoulder at 5:12.

“I have a quick release, I don’t think he saw that,” Lipsbergs said.

Seattle goalie Danny Mumaugh nearly tied the game at 1-1 as the puck got tangled up in his skates and almost went in the net at 8:51.

The Americans tied the game at 17:24 as Lucas Nickles reeled in a pass from Marcus Messier, motored past Seattle defenseman Shea Theodore and slipped the puck between Mumaugh’s pads for his eighth goal of the season.

Jeff Hubic also had an assist on the goal — his first point with the Americans since coming over in a trade with Kootenay five games ago.

That would be the only goal for the Americans, who have scored just seven goals in their last three games.

“Guys are frustrated,” Hiller said. “It’s human nature to be frustrated. I don’t know of one time where frustration ever helped. You have to play hard, enjoy the game and trust the results.”

Note: Americans athletic therapist Darcy Ewanchuk worked his 1,000th WHL game Tuesday. ... The Portland Winterhawks acquired the rights to Minnesota Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba, along with a conditional bantam draft pick, from the Red Deer Rebels in exchange for forward Presten Kopeck and conditional picks. The conditional picks were not announced.

Dumba, 19, was selected seventh overall in the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft by Minnesota, and has played 13 games with the Wild this season. He has not played since Nov. 23. He is on loan to Team Canada for the World Junior Championship.

Kopeck, 18, who is out until January because of hernia surgery, is in his second season in the WHL. He has played 88 career games with the Winterhawks, scoring 14 goals with 15 assists.

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