Americans fall to Spokane 7-3

February 8, 2014 

The Tri-City Americans are barely keeping their head above water, and Saturday’s loss rival Spokane was like a giant wave washing over their heads.

The Chiefs scored four unanswered goals in the third period to turned a close game into a 7-3 victory before a crowd of 4,342 at Toyota Center, and end a four-game slide.

“Tonight was a different game than last night,” said Americans coach Jim Hiller of the 10-3 loss to Portland on Friday. “When we made mistakes (tonight), they piled them on. Moral of the story is you can’t break down defensively.”

With ninth-place Prince George posting back-to-back wins over Red Deer, the Cougars now are within two points of the eighth-place Americans (26-24-2-3, 57 points). PG has clawed its way back into the playoff race by winning six consecutive games.

“We need to come back and be ready to rumble on our road trip,” said Tri-City defenseman Mitch Topping, who had two assists in playing his 300th Western Hockey League game.

The Americans are at Kamloops on Monday, at Victoria on Wednesday, at Seattle on Friday and at Spokane next Saturday.

Spokane (32-18-3-2, 69 points) turned a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 advantage midway through the third period with four goals in a span of 6 minutes.

Dominic Zwerger started the action, followed by Carter Proft, Adam Helewka and Keanu Yamamoto.

The Americans got one goal back on a 5-on-3 power play at 14:32 as Brian Williams had a wide open net behind Eric Williams, but that would be all.

Tied at 1-1 at the start of the second, the Chiefs jumped out to a 3-1 lead with goals by Mike Aviani and Marcus Messier.

Aviani displayed a little fancy stick work in beating Tri-City goalie Eric Comrie at 8:57 for a 2-1 lead.

Three minutes later, Brian Williams looked to even things up, but his wraparound attempt to tuck the puck in at the left post was foiled by Eric  Williams.

At 14:09, Messier, who was traded by the Americans to the Chiefs at the trade deadline in January, redirected a shot from the point by Reid Gow past Comrie for a 3-1 lead and his first goal with Spokane.

Tri-City got back in the game late in the second period as Beau McCue scored a power-play goal at 16:20.

Topping had the original shot from the high slot, which McCue tipped past Eric Williams.

The Americans got off to a quick start, taking a 1-0 lead just 1:28 into the game.

Braden Purtill won a face-off to the right of Chiefs goalie Eric Williams and the puck went to Rodney Southam, who put the puck on net. Williams got his skate on the puck, but Purtill swooped in for the rebound and his ninth goal of the season.

The Chiefs struck back at 10:02 as Colton Bobyk picked off a pass by McCue to Brian Willams in the neutral zone and motored up ice. He shot the puck and beat Comrie far side to tie the score on Spokane’s second shot of the game.

Topping, who also had an assist on Brian Williams’ goal, was given a rousing ovation from the fans during and after the game.

“The fans are so supportive,” Topping said. “It was a nice couple of seconds they gave me. It was nice to be able to do this at home.”

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