KENNEWICK -- Before this season, Ty Rimmer had never beaten Portland.
In fact, he'd been on the losing end of three nasty losses while minding the net for Prince George.
Sunday night, Rimmer had 29 saves for his third shutout of the season to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-0 victory over the Portland Winterhawks before a crowd of 4,313 at Toyota Center.
The Americans (25-7-0-0, 50 points) are 5-0 against Portland this season, and Rimmer has four of those wins, including two shutouts.
"It was a complete game for us," Rimmer said. "Guys were sacrificing their bodies, and I was able to get my toe and glove on a couple in the third and get the win."
Tri-City, which leads the Western Hockey League with 50 points, opened up a seven-point lead over Portland (20-11-2-1, 43 points) in the U.S. Division and a five-point lead over Kamloops (22-8-1-0, 45 points) in the Western Conference.
"(Portland) is a very dangerous offensive team," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team ran its win streak to six games. "Our goaltending has to be good against them. Ty was good. In the third period, in particular, he was outstanding."
The Americans wasted no time in cashing in on their first power play as Justin Feser's shot from the top of the right circle went over Mac Carruth's shoulder and into the net at 3:40 of the first period.
Connor Rankin gave Tri-City a 2-0 lead at 16:24, taking a pass at the top of the crease from Brendan Shinnimin and beating Carruth stick side for his 11th goal of the season.
Tri-City extended its lead to 3-0 at 8:53 the second period, albeit with a little help from the Winterhawks.
Adam Hughesman picked up a rebound off Rimmer's pads and headed up ice with Shinnimin as his wing man.
Hughesman gave Shinnimin the puck, who shot it at Carruth. The puck slipped through Carruth's pads and was in the crease behind him. Rankin, looking for his second goal, tried to get his stick on the puck, but Portland defenseman Troy Rutkowski inadvertantly knocked it across the goal line, giving Shinnimin credit for the goal.
"They have all been close games," said Hughesman, who finished with two assists. "We feel fortunate to be 5-0 against them."
The Winterhawks, missing three of their of players -- Joe Morrow, Brad Ross and Ty Rattie -- to the Canadian World Junior camp, dropped their third consecutive game.
"Two good teams that play each other five times, you'd like to think it would even out," said Portland assistant coach Travis Green, who was filling in for head coach Mike Johnston, who was scouting a bantam tournament. "We had a lot of the play in the third, but (Rimmer) had some outstanding saves."
While Portland missing key forwards, the Americans were without Zach Yuen and Mitch Topping, their top pairing on the blue line.
Feser dropped back to fill in on defense for the second consecutive game.
"Just trying to fill in the spots," Feser said. "I'm not trying to do anything out of the ordinary, just trying to play a solid game. It's pretty fun to get a chance to play somewhere where you aren't used to and get a feel for what they go through on a daily basis."
Though he's happy to help out, he's not giving up his day job on the wing.
"I hope not," Feser said.
Hughesman was impressed with Feser's play on the blue line, and that of the younger players.
"It's a testament to our character," Hughesman said. "We have been healthy most of the year, but we had a couple guys go down on the road trip and our young guys have stepped up. They did a great job tonight."
Add veteran defenseman Derek Ryckman in that group. He broke up several plays and played a key part on the league's top-ranked penalty kill that negated all six of Portland's power plays.
"It's hard to describe the impact he has had on our team," said Hiller of Ryckman, who came over in trade from Lethbridge on Oct. 16. "He continues to raise his game before our eyes. Sometimes a change of scenery helps a guy."