The Tri-City Americans have helped themselves to a pile of points over the last week, winning four games in a row.
The Americans added Medicine Hat to their list of victims Wednesday night, beating the Tigers 4-1 before a crowd of 3,922 at Toyota Center.
"We wanted to approach this game like a playoff game," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "It's Wednesday, so the crowd isn't as big as it is Friday or Saturday. We had to challenge ourselves to play a solid hockey game and that's what we saw.
"Over the last 10 days, we have started to make a statement as to who we are and what we want to accomplish."
The Tigers (17-7-1-0, 35 points), who had won their first three games against U.S. Division teams, saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end.
"We've played four games in five nights and we were a little sluggish," said Tigers coach Shaun Clouston. "I thought our first period was strong, we were right there. I thought the guys played hard, but Tri-City did a lot of good things and made it hard for us to generate any offense."
The Americans (16-9-1-1, 34 points), who trailed Portland by nearly 20 points last week, have cut that deficit to 11 points with four wins and four straight losses by the Winterhawks. Tri-City will play at Portland on Friday.
With the quick pace of the game, it was just a matter of time before the puck found its way into the net.
The Americans struck first as Medicine Hat's Jace Coyle ran into Tri-City's Justin Feser at the left post and the puck was kicked out to the top of the crease.
Rookie Marcus Messier was there to gather the puck and slide it between Deven Dubyk's pad for his first Western Hockey League goal at 3:12.
The Tigers tied the game at 12:38 as Reid Petryk picked up the puck in a crowd in the slot and beat goalie Drew Owsley.
"I didn't see that one," said Owsley, who finished with 28 saves. "There was a big crowd and it was a good shot by that guy."
The Americans took a 2-1 lead three minutes later as Brendan Shinnimin backhanded the puck off the wall to rookie Connor Rankin, whose shot found a sliver of daylight above Dubyk's left shoulder for his seventh goal of the season.
"I saw the goalie cheating toward Hughey (Adam Hughesman) and I took a selfish play," said Rankin, who's been promoted to the top line with Hughesman and Shinnimin. "(Scoring) gives me confidence and Hughey and Shinny do a lot to help me score."
Hiller was pleased to see his younger players get on the score sheet.
"Any time you get two goals from 16-year-olds against a team like Medicine Hat, you are having a good night," Hiller said. "Most players go through a time when they aren't playing a whole lot -- we were all happy to see Marcus get that goal."
Jordan Messier looked to join his little brother in the scoring column early in the third, cutting through the Medicine Hat defense on the way to the net, but he didn't have a shot and slid the puck to Mason Wilgosh who tallied his fifth of the season at 2:31.
Brooks Macek finished the scoring off at 9:00, redirecting a shot by David Conrad off the right wall.
In a fast-paced first period, there was no scoring, but not for a lack of trying.
The Tigers had a 14-13 shot advantage and a pair of power plays, but the Americans negated both.
Tri-City held league-leading scorer Linden Vey scoreless after he had earned a point in eight straight games.
"We knew we were a good team, we just needed to show it," Owsley said. "It's a big confidence booster to beat teams like this."