It seems a good week of practice was just what the Tri-City Americans needed.
Justin Feser had a pair of empty-net goals, and Patrick Holland had three assists to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 4-1 victory Friday over the Seattle Thunderbirds before a crowd of 5,522 at Toyota Center.
"I think the week of practice showed with what we did in the game," Feser said. "Seattle played us hard the whole 60 minutes. It's good to get the two points."
Tri-City (36-12-1-1, 74 points), which raised $21,260 during their seventh annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night, pulled within two points of WHL-leading Kamloops, which dropped a 7-5 game at Vancouver.
"I thought Seattle played very well," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said, "the best they have played here recently. Sometimes you get used to winning and scoring a lot of goals, but in the second half (of the season) there aren't as many goals and the games are tighter."
The Thunderbirds (18-30-1-1, 38 points), who have lost 21 consecutive games at Toyota Center, still are in eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race, holding a four-point lead over Prince George.
Trailing 2-1 in the final minutes of the game, Seattle pulled goaltender Calvin Pickard for an extra attacker, but it was the Americans who scored as Feser outstkated Colin Jacobs for the puck and slid it into an empty net at 19:04.
After a Tri-City penalty with 48 seconds left in regulation, Seattle again pulled Pickard, and again Feser scored, this time short-handed into an empty net.
"I thought our penalty kill did a good job again," Hiller said. "We needed them."
After a quick but scoreless first period, the Americans finally got on track in the second, scoring just 46 seconds into the period as Jesse Mychan lifted the puck over Pickard's shoulder.
"It feels good to get home and regroup," Mychan said of the Americans' first home game since going 1-1-1-0 on their last road trip. "We didn't get the wins we wanted. Tonight, we felt good. A long week of practice paid off. You enjoy it when you know you did it right."
Brendan Shinnimin gave Tri-City a 2-0 lead at 6:30 on the power play, collecting a rebound off a shot by Feser that bounced off Pickard's pads and went to the left of the goal. Shinnimin was all alone behind Pickard and had a wide open net to score his team-leading 30th goal.
Seattle cut the Americans' lead in half late in the period as the Thunderbirds' 21st-ranked power play put a dent in Tri-City's top-ranked penalty kill with a goal by Connor Honey at 17:33.
Rookie Eric Comrie finished with 21 saves for Tri-City, picking up his 16th win.
"Eric made a couple of really nice saves late in the game," Hiller said. "It was an outstanding game for him."
Pickard, winless in his 14 career starts at Toyota Center, finished with 21 saves for the Thunderbirds.
"Calvin played good tonight," Mychan said. "He always plays good here, he just can't buy a win."
Note: Doug Soetaert, Everett's long-time general manager was fired Thursday evening after nearly a decade in the Tips' front office. Under Soetaert's watch, Everett won three U.S. Division titles, a Western Conference championship, and a Scotty Munro trophy in the team's first four seasons.