KENNEWICK -- If the effort isn't there, neither is the win.
Jamie Crooks scored the game-winner at 14:12 of the third period for the Victoria Royals, who scored early and then held on for a 5-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 3,327 at the Toyota Center.
"You saw the difference between the first and second periods and the third," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "We weren't ready to play hockey the right way. We have guys not having success right now, and they don't want to play hard and play the right way. We have to be willing to do it ugly. There was no willingness out there."
The Americans (10-5-0-0, 20 points), who lost on home ice for the second time this season, had their three-game winning streak snapped by Victoria (8-6-0-0, 16 points).
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"This is a tough place to play, and they are good at home," Royals coach Marc Habscheid said. "We got the early power play, and we were able to get a couple (of goals). We are banged up, and we are young. This was a good lesson for our guys to go through -- play a good team and find a way to come through."
Nate MacMaster scored just 17 seconds into the third for the Americans, cutting the Royals' lead to 4-3.
Ty Rimmer, who replaced Eric Comrie in the second period, made two huge stops on shots by Kevin Sundher, keeping Tri-City in the game.
"We had breakaways and 2-on-1s, but Rimmer came in and played real well," Habscheid said.
Crooks' goal put Victoria on top 5-3, but Malte Stromwall pulled the Americans back into the fray with a goal at 14:59.
The Americans pulled Rimmer for an extra attacker the last 2:18 of the game, but they couldn't get the equalizer.
"Without a question, we thought if (Rimmer) could hold the fort, we could come back," Hiller said. "He had to make too many saves before that (Crooks' goal). I'd like to have seen them play the whole game like they did in the third -- the way they are capable."
The Royals wasted no time setting the tone for the game, taking a 2-0 lead just 5:31 into the first period.
Working on a 5-on-3 power play, Victoria needed just 37 seconds to find the net as Sundher took a pass across the slot from Robin Soudek and beat Comrie at the left post at 4:21.
Comrie, who posted back-to-back shutouts against Prince George last weekend, hadn't allowed a goal in 156 minutes, 45 seconds.
Soudek had a goal on the back end of the power play -- with an assist by Sundher -- for his 10th of the season at 5:31.
The Americans, outshot 6-2 at the 10:30 mark of the first, got to work with a couple of power plays. They outshot the Royals 13-1 the rest of the period but failed to find the net.
In the second period, Victoria kept the pressure on, making it 3-0 just 3:46 into the period as Kade Pilton's blast from the left point beat Comrie.
Tri-City finally got on the board at 6:35 as Marcus Messier picked up a loose puck in the slot and found the net for his first goal of the season.
The Americans' goal did nothing to slow the Royals. Victoria's Steven Hodges scored at the 7-minute mark, chasing Comrie from the net after allowing four goals on 13 shots.
Down but not out, the Americans cut the Royals' lead in half by the end of the second as Justin Feser skated down the slot and shoved the puck into the net at 16:31 in the midst of a melee in the crease.
Referee Trevor Hanson was on top of the action, lying on top of the net for a bird's-eye view as the puck crossed the goal line.
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; email@example.com