KENNEWICK -- It was a good recipe for success: The youngsters provide the energy, and the veterans take care of the scoring.
Justin Feser had two goals and an assist, and Ty Rimmer finished with 33 saves Wednesday night in leading the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades before an announced crowd of 3,807 at the Toyota Center.
"They are a really good team," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of the Blades. "They have a winning tradition, and they were good around our net. They made us earn our chances."
Tri-City (8-4-0-0, 16 points), which is 6-0-0-0 when scoring the first goal, is 2-1 against the East Division, beating Prince Albert and losing to Brandon.
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The Blades (7-3-0-1) are 1-2-0-1 against the U.S. Division during their biennial trek through Oregon and Washington.
The score might have been 5-2, but it was much closer than that as the Americans' last two goals came in the final two minutes of the game.
"As long as I've been in the league, they have been one of the best in the league," said Tri-City forward Patrick Holland, who had a goal and an assist. "They have a lot of good players, and their young players are good, too."
Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Feser and Holland took off up ice with the puck with a little more than 2 minutes to play. A little game of tic-tac-toe ended with Feser putting the puck in the net with 2 minutes left in the game.
"I had enough speed to beat their player, and he waited until I was open," Feser said. "He slid it on the ice, and I poked it in. It's always exciting when it's a close game.
"Rimmer battled through everything they gave him. He kept his composure and played his game."
After the ensuing face-off, the Blades pulled goaltender Andrey Makarov for an extra attacker, but that's when Brendan Shinnimin found the empty net.
"I wasn't as good as I need to be tonight," said Shinnimin, who has two goals this season. "I need to get back to helping my team and getting greasy. A lot of guys stepped up -- Marcus Messier's line (along with Lucas Nickles and Connor Rankin) was good, pressing and challenging their top line in their zone. (Adam) Hughesman's been hot lately, and we're getting goals from secondary guys. That's what makes us a good team."
The Blades pressed in the third, but Rimmer was solid, making a key save at 9:30 and Zach Yuen made a nice check on a breakaway by Lukas Sutter a minute later.
"It feels good to be back home and get a win," Rimmer said. "They are a physical team, and they came hard all night, but we were able to come out with the win."
Working with a 2-1 lead entering the second, the Americans were able to stay one step ahead of the Blades.
Rookie Brian Williams gave Tri-City a 3-1 lead 3:40 into the second, finishing off a play started by defenseman Derek Ryckman.
Ryckman had the puck in the right circle and was dragged down as he sent the puck toward the net. The puck ricocheted off Makarov's pads, and Williams was there for an easy goal.
The Blades made it one-goal game later in the period as Zach Hodder caught Rimmer down on the ice in the midst of a scramble in front of the net. Hodder lifted the puck over Rimmer at 12:47 for his first of the year.
Saskatoon looked to even the score late in the second as Ryan Olsen took off on a short-handed breakaway, but his shot rang off the post at 17:25.
It took a good part of the first period for the teams to get a feel for each other, but once they got into a rhythm, the goals started ringing up.
The Americans struck first as Feser stole the puck from Darren Dietz and passed it into the slot to Jordan Messier, who in turn fed the puck to Holland at the left post for his first goal of the season at 13:46.
Just 17 seconds later, the Blades evened things up as Dalton Thrower broke away from the pack and went in alone on Rimmer. Thrower put the puck between Rimmer's pads for his first goal of the season.
Feser gave the Americans a 2-1 lead at 16:34, blasting the puck between Makarov's pads from the high slot on the power play. Makarov finished with 36 saves.
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-574; firstname.lastname@example.org