KENT -- It's never over until the final horn sounds.
Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, the Tri-City Americans scored five unanswered goals to rally for a 5-3 victory Saturday night over the Seattle Thunderbirds at ShoWare Center in the final game before the holiday break.
At 27-7-0-0, the Americans lead the overall Western Hockey League standings with 54 points. It's Tri-City's best start to the season in its 24 years in the league.
"We are proud of them," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team has won eight in a row. "For me, it summarizes the effort. The guys have played well and played hard. We were rewarded for our work in the first half."
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Seattle (13-17-0-1, 27 points) got goals from Luke Lockhart and Sean Aschim in the first period, and Colin Jacobs added another in the second for the 3-0 lead.
The Americans outshot the Thunderbirds 13-6 in the second period, but Seattle goalie Calvin Pickard stopped everything Tri-City threw at him.
"I thought Pickard was really good in the second period," Hiller said. "We couldn't get one by him. We had some good shots, but he was that good. I thought if we could get one by him, good things would happen."
And they did.
The Americans scored three goals on nine shots in the first 4:13 of the third period to tie the score at 3.
Justin Feser got the first goal, and Patrick Holland added two goals in a span of 1:44.
Feser, who also had two assists, scored his second of the night at 6:21 to give Tri-City the lead for good.
Mason Wilgosh finished the scoring at 18:02. Wilgosh also had three assists for his second four-point game of his career.
"Holly and Feser haven't played together in 21/2 months, but we threw them together in the third and good things happened," Hiller said. "The interesting thing is the quality of goals. The guys just executed off the rush."
Americans 5, Thunderbirds 3
Tri-City 0 0 5 -- 5
Seattle 2 1 0 -- 3
First -- 1, Sea, Lockhart 7 (Alos), 4:25. 2, Sea, Aschim 9 (Troock, Laroque), 7:24. Penalties -- MacMaster, TC (major-fighting), 4:29; Hickman, Sea (cross checking, major-fighting), 4:29; Yuen, TC (checking from behind), 13:51.
Second -- 3, Sea, Jacobs 2 (Gallimore, Deagle), 15:19. Penalties -- Rimmer, TC (roughing), 3:19; Jacobs, Sea (embellishment), 3:19; Ryckman, TC (roughing), 10:36; Hauf, Sea (cross checking), 16:33.
Third -- 4, TC, Feser 16 (Yuen, Wilgosh), 0:34. 5, TC, Holland 12 (Wilgosh, Shinnimin), 2:29. 6, TC, Holland 13 (Feser), 4:13. 7, Feser 17 (Holland, Wilgosh), 6:21. 8, TC, Wilgosh 6 (J. Messier, Feser), 18:02. Penalties -- J. Messier, TC (charging), 7:16; J. Messier (closing hand on puck), 10:10; Lockhart, Sea (hooking), 10:34; Hickman, TC (high sticking), 19:46.
Shots -- TC 12-13-18 -- 43. Sea 9-6-13 -- 28. Power plays -- TC 0-4. Sea 0-4. Goalies -- TC, Rimmer 15-4-0-0 (28 shots-25 saves). Sea, Pickard 13-14-0-1 (43-38). Referees -- Fraser Lawrence and Andy Thiessen. A -- 3,225.