After playing behind all night, the Tri-City Americans finally pulled ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes when it counted — in the shootout.
Parker AuCoin, who earlier had scored a goal to tie the game at 4, notched the game-winner in the shootout as the Americans escaped with a 6-5 victory Saturday night before a crowd of 3,101 at Toyota Center.
“It was a great win,” Americans coach Mike Williamson said. “I didn’t think we were very good early in the game, we were sloppy. In the third, we worked hard and clawed our way back in the game. Fortunately, we came out on top.”
Tri-City (4-3-0-0, 8 points) got a goal and four assists from defenseman Parker Wotherspoon, along with two goals and an assist from Max James.
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Lethbridge (4-2-0-1, 9 points) was led by Jesse Zaharichuk, who had three goals and an assist.
Tied at 5 after regulation and overtime, the game went to a shootout — a first for both teams this season.
The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead with goals by Giorgio Estephan and Tyler Wong, while Morgan Geekie connected for Tri-City.
Michael Rasmussen tied the shootout at 2, and AuCoin made it 3-2. Brennan Menell had a chance to tie it up for the Hurricanes, but was denied by Nick Sanders.
“They had a couple of chances there to win it, but we came up with a big goal and a couple of saves,” Williamson said. “It was a great win.”
James scored the Americans’ first two goals, with the second tying the score at 2 early in the second period.
“He’s around the net, he has a great shot and he’s tough to handle around the net,” Williamson said of James. “He’s getting rewarded.”
Wotherspoon scored midway through the second period to pull the Americans within 4-3, and AuCoin tied it at 4 at 12:29 of the third with an assist from Wotherspoon.
“He really stepped up when we needed him to,” Williamson said of Wotherspoon. “Our older guys really stepped up, and Spooner led the way.”
Tyler Wong gave the Hurricanes a 5-4 lead at 13:36 of the third in the power play, but Nolan Yaremko evened things out with 1:57 left in regulation.
Americans 6, Hurricans 5 (SO)
First — 1, Leth, Zaharichuk 3 (Lindgren), 4:37. 2, TC, James 3 (Olson, Wotherspoon), 18:41 (pp). Penalties — Rayman, TC (tripping), 7:01; Addison, Leth (hooking), 11:52; Reagan, Leth (delay of game), 12:05; Riddle, Leth (cross-checking), 17:54,
Second — 3, Leth, Zaharichuk 4 (Burke, Pankewicz), 1:05. 4, TC, James 4 (Wotherspoon, Coghlan), 3:50. 5, Leth, Menell 2 (Zaharichuk, Riddle), 4:20. 6, Leth, Zaharichuk 5 (Babenko, Panewicz), 9:14 (pp). 7, TC, Wotherspoon 1 (James, AuCoin), 11:31 (pp). Penalties — Yaremko, TC (tripping), 7:26; Merezhko, Leth (roughing), 9:38; Yorke, TC (slashing), 12:38; Pankewicz, Leth (holding), 16:17; AuCoin, TC (goaltender interference), 19:53.
Third — 8, AuCoin 1 (Wotherspoon, Sandhu), 12:29. 9, Leth, Wong 5 (Estephan, Burke), 13:36 (pp). 10, TC, Yaremko 1 (Wotherspoon, Coghlan), 18:03 (pp). Penalties — Teagan, Leth, major (fighting), 7:28; James, TC, minor-major (slashing, instigator, fighting, misconduct), 7:28; Olson, TC (hooking), 13:19; Addison, Leth (high-sticking), 14:22; Lethbridge bench (too many men, served by Babenko), 16:27.
Shots — Leth 8-9-5-3 — 25. TC 10-7-14-5 — 36. Power plays — Leth 2-7. TC 3-7. Shootout — Leth 2 (Estephan G, Wong G, Zaharichuk NG, Menell NG). TC 3 (Lukin NG, Geekie G, Rasmussen G, AuCoin G). Goalies — Leth, Gilchrist 0-0-0-1 (36 shots-31 saves). TC, Warm (10-7), Sanders 2-1-0-0 (15-13). Referees — Kevin Bennett and Andrew Wilk. A — 3,101.