After getting shut out for more than 45 minutes, Riley Sawchuck scored 2 of the Tri-City Americans’ three third-period goals to lead the team to a 3-2 win over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday at the Toyota Center.
The victory was an important one in the tight U.S. Division, as Tri-City drew even with the Spokane Chiefs for fourth at 57 points, and sits just a point behind third-place Seattle and five back of the second-place Portland Winterhawks.
Matthew Wedman scored the opening goal for Seattle at 3:43 of the second period, and for awhile it looked like that might be enough with Dorrin Luding putting on a masterful performance in goal. But an equalizer from Sawchuck at 7:16 of the third, followed by an unassisted power-play goal from Morgan Geekie 5 1/2 minutes later gave the Ams their first lead of the game, which they never relinquished.
Sawchuck scored the eventual game-winner with about a minute left to go on an open net courtesy of an assist from Maxwell James. Zack Andrusiak poured in what turned out to be an academic goal 30 seconds later for the T-Birds.
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Patrick Dea stopped 29 of 31 shots for Tri-City and Luding saved 32 of 34 faced for Seattle.
Tri-City continues its four-game home stand against the Victoria Royals at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, then against Portland at the same time Friday.
AMERICANS 3, THUNDERBIRDS 2
First — No Scoring.
Second — 1, Sea, Wedman 11 (Ottenbreit, Tyszka), 3:43.
Third — 2, TC, Sawchuk 7 (Johnson, Belcourt), 7:16. 3, TC, Geekie 17 12:50 (PP). 4, TC, Sawchuk 8 (James), 18:51 (EN). 5, Sea, Andrusiak 23 (Ottenbreit, Wedman), 19:32.
Shots — Sea 11-9-11-31. TC 13-10-12-35. Power plays — Sea 0-4; TC 1-5. Goalies — Sea, Luding 8-11-1-0 (34-32). TC, Dea 13-9-6-0 (31-29). Referees — Duncan Brow (19), Bryan Bourdon (45), Anthony Guzzo (135), Daniel Spore (142). A. 2,848.