Not much went right for the Tri-City Americans in their home opener on Saturday night. After a good night’s sleep, all was good at the hockey rink Sunday.
The Americans scored three first-period goals, four in the second, and Evan Sarthou had an assist and 14 saves for his first WHL shutout in handing the Prince George Cougars a 7-0 loss before a crowd of 3,072 at Toyota Center.
“All the things we talked about last night, the things that were missing, were there,” said Americans coach Mike Williamson. “Our top guys led the way. We competed extremely hard together. It’s not every night you are going to have a game like that.”
Brian Williams led the way for Tri-City with two goals, a pair of assists and three stitches in his chin. Parker Bowles, Justin Hamonic and Brandon Carlo all had two assists for the Americans, who had 12 players appear on the scoresheet.
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“Everyone was just so happy after every period,” Williams said, “but we still were focused. I want it to be like that every night. You get confidence — not just me — but 12 guys getting points, that’s something to be proud of. We know what we are capable of.”
The two points earned as a team were first and foremost for Sarthou, but a shutout and a point, they weighed in as equal.
“Sometimes there is a problem getting too relaxed,” Sarthou said of the lack of shots on goal at times. “The guys were outstanding in front of me. The shots were kept to the outside. It was a great all-around effort tonight. It was fun seeing all those goals go in at the other end.”
The Americans wasted no time in setting the tone for the game in the first period. Bowles got things rolling with a power-play goal, beating Ty Edmonds on the door step at 6:17.
Williams did all the dirty work, pulling the puck out of traffic in the right corner and feeding Bowles as he skated into the slot.
Beau McCue gave Tri-City a 2-0 lead at 12:41, coming out of the penalty box and joining Jackson Playfair on a rush up ice. From the left circle, Playfair connected with McCue at the right post, who put the puck in the net just 9 seconds after his penalty had ended.
The Cougars looked to cut into the lead at 16:09, but Wil Tomchuk’s goal was disallowed as several players joined Sarthou in the net as the puck crossed the goal line.
Defenseman Parker Wotherspoon made it a 3-0 Americans lead with 2:04 left in the first as his shot from the high slot went top shelf for his first goal of the season.
As if three goals weren’t good enough in the first, Tri-City rang up four in the second — three on the man advantage.
The Americans needed just 21 seconds to take a 4-0 lead as Lucas Nickles redirected a shot from the point by Wotherspoon past Edmonds.
At 5:58, Williams scored his first of two goals, taking a pass from Bowles across the slot and beating Edmonds at the right post on the power play.
That would be the end of Edmonds’ night. He finished with 10 saves on 15 shots.
The Cougars would give up their third power-play goal of the period at 6:33 as Ty Comrie welcomed PG backup goalie Tavin Grant to the game. Sarthou had the second assist on Comrie’s goal for his first WHL point.
“We moved the puck well and had traffic in front,” said Williamson, whose team was 5-for-10 on the power play. “We were rewarded with goals.”
Williams finished off the scoring at 12:22 of the second, giving the Americans a 7-0 lead over the Cougars, who just the night before had beaten the Portland Winterhawks 6-3 and manufactured 34 shots on goal.
Prince George mustered seven shots on goal in the third, but Sarthou turned them all away.
“Our guys did a good job in front of him,” Williamson said. “The last few minutes Prince George got some pucks in there, but he stood his ground.”
There was no scoring in the third period, but a donnybrook at 10:39 sent four players to the showers and overloaded the penalty boxes.
Notes: The 1,908th fan at Sunday’s game put the WHL over 100,000 fans for opening weekend — an average of about 5,200 fans per game. Prince George’s 6-3 win over Portland on Saturday was the Cougars’ first win over the Winterhawks since December 2011. ... Tomchuk got his start in the WHL with Tri-City. He was dealt to the Cougars at the trade deadline in January after 1 1/2 seasons with the Americans. ... PG forward Tyler Mrkonjic came into the WHL with the Americans as a fourth-round bantam pick (82nd overall) in 2011. He was traded to the Cougars on May 2, 2013. He is in his second season with PG.
Prince George 0 0 0 — 0
Tri-City 3 4 0 — 7
First — 1, Bowles 1 (Williams, Carlo), 6:17 (pp). 2, TC, McCue 1 (J.Playfair, Southam), 12:41. 3, TC, Wotherspoon 1 (Bowles, Williams), 17:56 (pp). Penalties — Harkins, PG (tripping), 5:57; Ruopp, PG (high-sticking), 9:56; Nickles, TC (cross-checking), 9:56; Gutierrez, TC (slashing), 16:56; Olson, PG (hooking), 17:05; Erricson, PG, double minor (high-sticking), 17:19.
Second — 4, TC, Nickles 1 (Wotherspoon, Hamonic), :21 (pp). 5, TC, Williams 1 (Bowles, Carlo), 5:58 (pp). 6, TC, T.Comrie 1 (Hamonic, Sarthou), 6:33 (pp). 7, TC, Williams 2 (Purtill), 12:22. Penalties — Ross, PG (tripping), 4:54; Thom, PG (slashing), 5:22; Gonek, PG, major (fighting), 6:52; Hamonic, TC, major (fighting), 6:52; Braid, PG (checking from behind), 7:30; Wotherspoon, TC (roughing), 7:30; Macklin, PG (cross-checking), 16:56; Coghlan, TC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:56.
Third — No scoring. Penaties — Anderson, PG (roughing), 5:31; Bobos, PG (roughing), 8:26; Topping, TC (roughing), 8:26; Hillis, TC (), 10:03; Harkins, PG (), 10:03; Ruopp, PG (), 10:03; Erricson, PG (checking to the head), 10:39; Macklin, PG, minor-major (charging, fighting), 10:39; Tomchuk, PG, major (fighting, game misconduct), 10:39; Olson, PG, major (fighting, game misconduct), 10:39; Carlo, TC, major (fighting), 10:39; J.Playfair, TC, major (fighting, game misconduct), 10:39; Bowles, TC, major (fighting, game misconduct), 10:39.
Shots — PG 5-2-7— 14. TC 12-13-13 — 38. Power plays — PG 0-2. TC 5-10. Goalies — PG, Edmonds 1-1-0 (15 shot-10 saves), Grant (5:58 of 2nd, 23-21). TC, Sartou 1-1-0 (14-14). Referees — Jason Nissen and Nathan Wieler. A — 3,072.