There’s no place like home.
The Tri-City Americans improved to 7-0 on home ice Friday night, beating the Price Albert Raiders 4-1 before an appreciative crowd of 4,049 at Toyota Center.
The Americans exploded for three goals in the second period, and goalie Beck Warm had 30 saves as Tri-City (13-5-2-0, 28 points) remains the only team in the Western Hockey League that has not lost at home.
“It was a great crowd,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “Our guys have done a good job taking care of home ice. The fans get behind us and that gives us energy.”
Tri-City, which moved into a tie for first in the U.S. Division with Portland, will host B.C. Division-leading Victoria on Saturday for the second of a seven-game homestand.
The Raiders (9-9-3-0, 21 points), who are 1-3 against the U.S. Division, finish their trek Saturday at Spokane.
Michael Rasmussen scored the first two goals of the game in the second period, redirecting a shot from the point by Juuso Välimäki at 5:06, then finishing at 8:24, reeling in a pass from Dakota Krebs and beating Ian Scott for his ninth goal of the season.
“It was a pretty good first period by us,” Rasmussen said. “We came out hard in the second and got some momentum. It was good.”
The Americans opened up a 3-0 lead a minutes later with a goal by Välimäki. The lead would stand until the end of the period.
“It was a good game by the whole team,” said Warm, who had 22 saves through two periods. “It was a night when the puck seemed slower than normal. It’s nice when they get a lead for you, but it doesn’t change the way I play.”
Working on a power play to start the third, the Raiders scored just 33 seconds into the period as Parker Kelly redirected a shot by Cole Fonstad.
Tri-City got the goal back 90 seconds later as Sasha Mutala hit Morgan Geekie with a stretch pass up the middle, and he went to the net alone to finish the scoring.
“We want to keep this streak going,” Warm said. “It’s great for the fans. They are some of the best fans in the league and they have our backs.”
There was no scoring in the first period, but not for lack of trying. The teams combined for 29 shots on goal, but nothing got past the goalies.
Warm stopped a flurry of PA shots in the waning seconds of the period, then Rasmussen was off the mark at the other end, just missing the top corner of the net with 3 seconds remaining.
“Beck was great at the start,” Williamson said. “We were on our heels a bit and PA came out and got in our face, but Beck was there for us. We had a stretch there in the second and we broke through”.
Americans 4, Raiders 1
First — No scoring. Penalties — Sawchuk, TC (high-sticking), 7:05; Miller, PA (tripping), 7:57; Hayes, PA (boarding), 15:14.
Second — 1, TC, Rasmussen 8 (Välimäki, Olson), 5:06. 2, TC, Rasmussen 9 (Krebs, Gatenby), 8:24. 3, TC, Välimäki 5 (Clayton), 9:32. Penalties — Nachbaur, PA (hooking), 11:25; Geekie, TC (embellishment), 11:25; Jerome, PA (roughing), 15:39; Budik, PA (checking from behind), 15:39; Brown, TC (roughing), 15:39; Bouchard, TC (tripping), 19:52.
Third — 4, PA, Kelly 12 (Fonstad), :33 (pp). 5, TC, Geekie 7 (Mutala), 2:03. Penalties — Gatenby, TC (slashing), 11:33; Kelly, PA (hooking), 12:14; Hayes, PA (roughing), 18:51; Olson, TC (roughing), 18:51.
Shots — PA 15-7-9 — 31. TC 14-12-10 — 36. Power plays — PA 1-3, TC 0-4. Goalies — PA, Scott 6-4-0-0 (36 shots-32 saves). TC, Warm 7-2-0-0 (31-30). Referees — Mark Pearce and Derek Zalaski. A — 4,049.