Playing on pink ice was a new adventure for Rylan Parenteau.
The Tri-City Americans goaltender had 32 saves, and Austyn Playfair added two goals and two assists to power the Americans to 7-3 victory Friday over the Seattle Thunderbirds in a key U.S. Division tilt before a crowd of 5,318 at Toyota Center.
“Just doing my part,” said Parenteau, who noted that his former team, Prince Albert, did not have a Breast Cancer Awareness Night. “This is a fun place to play. They guys did a really good job. We were ready to play. This was an exciting divisional game in this final push for the playoffs.”
The Americans (37-23-3-0, 77 points), who have won six in a row, trail U.S. Division-leading Everett by seven points, but have pulled within four of No. 2 Seattle (38-18-3-2, 81points).
It was Tri-City’s second consecutive win over Seattle, which had won the first five games of the eight-game series.
“We had a good start and just kept the foot on the gas pedal in the second period,” said Tri-City coach Mike Williamson, whose team poured in five goals in the second. “Rylan played really well. He made some great saves that kept some separation.”
Playfair, who had all of three points (1 goal, 2 assists) coming into the game, scored the first and fifth goals of the second period as the Americans took a 7-2 lead after 40 minutes.
“It kind of happens before you know it is even happening,” Playfair said of his four-point night. “It’s fun playing with (Nolan) Yaremko and (Max) James. I’m feeling a year and a half behind because of surgery; it’s nice to finally get into the stride of the game.”
Yaremko, Brett Leason and Kelti Jeri-Leon all scored between Playfair’s goals, and drew praise from Williamson.
“It was a good night for a lot of guys who don’t always show up on the scoresheet,” Williamson said. “We have good depth and we don’t rely on one guy or one line. They really played well and gave us energy. Austyn’s line was out against (Mathew) Barzal’s line all night, making it difficult for them.”
After scoring seven goals over two periods, the Americans went dry in the third, while Seattle managed a late goal by Austin Strand for the final margin.
The Americans got off to a quick start, scoring two goals in the first 3:43 of the first period.
Kyle Olson beat Seattle starter Carl Stankowski just 53 seconds into the game, and he scored his second of the night at 3:43, swooping in to pick up a rebound off a Jordan Topping shot and putting the puck in the net.
Olson’s second goal sent Stankowski to the bench after allowing two goals on five shots.
Stankowski, playing in just his fourth game of the season, was replaced by Rylan Toth, who stopped the Americans’ next 10 shots on goal in the first.
Seattle got one goal back at 8:51 on the power play as Jarret Tyszka gathered a rebound in the slot and shot the puck past Parenteau.
Toth would give up four goals in the first 8:06 of the second and would give way to Stankowski, who finished the game.
James and Parker Wotherspoon each handed out two assists for the Americans, who play at Spokane on Saturday.
Americans 7, Thunderbirds 3
First — 1, TC, Olson 16 (Playfair), :53. 2, TC, Olson 17 (Topping, Sandhu), 3:43. 3, Sea, Tyszka 6 (Neuls, Volcan), 8:51 (pp). Penalties — Yorke, TC (elbowing), 7:27; Yorke, TC (interference), 9:54.
Second — 4, TC, Playfair 2 (Yaremko, Coghlan), :27. 5. TC, Yaremko 8 (James, Playfair), 3:09. 6, TC, Jeri-Leon 2 (Sawchuk, Wotherspoon), 4:47. 7, TC, Leason 7 (Geekie, Wotherspoon), 8:06. 8, Sea, Kolesar 20 (Gropp, E.Bear), 15:30 (pp). 9, TC, Playfair 3 (Yaremko, James), 19:28. Penalties — Kolesar, Sea (slashing), 9:13; Ottenbreit, Sea, major (fighting), 11:27; James, TC, major (fighting), 11:27; O’Reilly, TC (holding), 12:06; O’Reilly, TC (interference), 15:09; Tyszka, Sea (interference), 17:04; Geekie, TC (misconduct), 17:56.
Third — 10, Sea, Strand 7 (Bishop, Andrusiak), 13:31. Penalties — Barzal, Sea (high-sticking), :51; Kolesar, Sea, major (fighting), 3:50; Yaremko, TC, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 3:50; Kolesar, Sea, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 14:40; Yorke, TC, major (fighting), 14:40.
Shots — Sea 15-11-9 — 35. TC 15-16-8 — 39. Power plays — Sea 2-6. TC 0-4. Goalies — Sea, Stankowski (5 shots-2 saves; 8:07 of 2nd, 12-11), Toth 31-17-1-1(3:43 of 1st, 18-14). TC, Parenteau 24-12-1-0 (35-32). Referees — Adam Griffiths and Dexter Rasmussen. A — 5,318.