A Merry Christmas indeed.
Brendan Shinnimin had a four-point night with two goals and two assists Friday night to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Americans (26-7-0-0), who have won seven in a row, lead the Western Hockey League with 52 points -- equaling their best start to the season (points wise) when they opened 26-9-0-0 in 2009-10.
"We really don't think about those things," Shinnimin said. "We just play and let things fall into place. We had two games left (before the holiday break), and we wanted to get a mindset and bear down. Everyone contributed. It was great. We'll do it all again (today)."
Seattle (13-16-0-1, 27 points), which will host the Americans tonight, hasn't won at Toyota Center since Jan. 27, 2008 -- a span of 18 game.
"We had some players who didn't have the game we'd like to see," Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "Our discipline caught up to us. They have a good power play and penalties killed us."
The Americans held a 2-1 lead after the first period, but quickly added to the margin as Shinnimin redirected a shot from the right wing by Adam Hughesman at 3:58 for a 3-1 lead.
"I thought we scored some nice goals," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "They were well-executed. You have to play the whole ice. When everyone does that, our skill guys will find a way to put the puck in the net."
Patrick Holland made it 4-1 at the 13-minute mark, skating the puck from the blue down to the lower outside edge of the left circle, where he fired the puck at Seattle goalie Calvin Pickard. The puck went over Pickard's left shoulder, rimmed around the top part of the net and out.
"I was just shooting that one for a rebound for Willie (Mason Wilgosh)," Holland said. "Calvin had a good stop on me earlier and I owed him one."
The Thunderbirds finished the second period on the power play as Tri-City defenseman Sam Grist leveled Chance Lund into the boards to the right of Americans goalie Eric Comrie.
Through 3:23 of the power play, Seattle had three shots on goal -- and just four for the period.
"Our PK has been pretty good for awhile, even without Zach (Yuen) and (Mitch) Topping," said Hiller, whose team killed off six Seattle power plays. "Credit to the guys on that four-man, we had to run some guys pretty hard."
Grist got out the box early in the third, and on his way to the bench, Seattle's Braeden Laroque tripped Grist and Branden Troock got caught for slashing. The Americans cashed in on the power play as Shinnimin scored his second of the night.
"We've been on that end when things don't go your way," Shinnimin said. "We didn't want to let up and let them feel good about anything."
The Thunderbirds were first on the scoreboard as Lund beat Comrie at 6:41 on a second-chance goal. Comrie stopped the first shot by Lund, but the puck stayed in the crease, where Lund knocked it in the net.
The Americans came back with a pair of power-play goals to take a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Hughesman, camped out in his usual spot at the left post, beat Pickard at 12:34 on a 4-on-3 man advantage to tie the score.
Connor Rankin gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead 1:19 later, taking a pass from Holland at the top of the crease and beating Pickard for his 12th goal of the season. Pickard is winless in 13 starts at Toyota Center.
Comrie finished with 24 saves to earn his 12th win.