After dropping their past two games, the Tri-City Americans got back on track Friday night, and helped coach Mike Williamson move up the ladder for most coaching wins in the Western Hockey League.
The line of Morgan Geekie, Nolan Yaremko and Carson Focht accounted for three power-play goals, and Patrick Dea netted his first shutout of the season in a 6-0 win over the Regina Pats at Toyota Center.
“They showed so much character tonight,” Williamson said of his team. “We had a lot of good players in the stands unable to play. I’m very, very proud of the defense. They played physical. We talked before the game about how much the forwards would have to help them out. It was a team effort.”
The Americans (14-7-2-0, 30 points), who are idle Saturday, remained in second place in the U.S Division behind Portland (36 points), a 6-2 winner over Red Deer.
The victory gave Williamson 548 career wins and moved him into a tie with the legendary Ernie (Punch) McLean for fifth on the all-time wins list.
Williamson, 44, coached at Portland and Calgary before landing with Tri-City, where he has 121 of his career wins.
“I didn’t know,” Williamson said. “Just means I’m old. This is a special league and there are and have been some great coaches. I’m very lucky to come to the rink, get behind the bench and get on the ice with the guys. It’s a special job.”
Dea stopped all 30 Regina shots on the night to record his third career shutout.
“It’s awesome,” the overage goalie said. “The guys, from the get-go, had a game plan and did a good job in front of me. They were clearing shots and limited second and third chances. And the fans were great. After we scored the first goal, the crowd was in it and helped us win the game.”
In a spirited first period that featured 70 minutes in penalties and five Tri-City power plays, the Americans jumped out to a 3-0 lead on eight shots on goal.
Working on their fourth power play, the Americans opened the scoring at 12:35 with a goal by Carson Focht, with assists by Morgan Geekie and Nolan Yaremko.
Just 13 seconds later, the same trio combined on a another power-play goal, this time with Geekie scoring his 10th goal of the season.
Jordan Topping finished the scoring, redirecting a shot from the point by Dakota Krebs past Regina goalie Tyler Brown for 3-0 lead at 18:10. It was his first goal since Oct. 25 against Moose Jaw.
Things got out of control in the second as the Americans scored three more goals for a 6-0 lead.
Making a quick exit from the penalty box, Tri-City’s Mitchell Brown reeled in a pass from Connor Bouchard and went in alone on Tyler Brown for a 4-0 lead. That would be the end of the night for the Pats goalie, who allowed four goals on 14 shots.
The Americans quickly welcomed backup goalie Max Paddock to the game as the deadly trio of Geekie, Yaremko and Focht struck again. Focht scored his second of the game on the man advantage at 15:01.
“You enjoy these game,” said Yaremko, who finished the night with three assists and a fight to his credit. “Everyone was working hard and drawing penalties. We play like that and keep it simple, we are tough to beat. It was a good bounce back win for us. We had a lot of emotion in our game. We did a hell of a job tonight.”
Topping then potted his second goal of the night 1:38 later for a commanding 6-0 Tri-City lead.
The Pats outshot the Americans 15-5 in the third period, but Dea hung a closed sign on the net, handing Regina its second consecutive loss.
Americans 6, Pats 0
First — 1, TC, Focht 3 (Geekie, Yaremko), 12:35 (pp). 2, TC, Geekie 10 (Yaremko, Focht), 12:48 (pp). 3, TC, Topping 12 (Krebs, Bishop), 18:10. Penalties — Schioler, Reg (hooking), 1:12; Mahura, Reg (high-sticking), 3:53; Bradley, Reg, double minor (spearing), 9:16; Mahura, Reg (cross-checking), 11:53; Sloboshan, Reg, double minor (roughing, misconduct), 18:36; Kalinichenko, TC, double minor (roughing, misconduct), 18:36; Creta, Reg (misconduct), 18:36; Bouchard, TC (misconduct); Holmes, Reg, major (fighting), 19:26; Yaremko, TC, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 19:26.
Second — 4, TC, Brown 1 (Bouchard), 12:58. 5, TC, Focht 4 (Geekie, Yaremko), 15:01 (pp). 6, TC, Topping 13 (Olson, Krebs), 16:39. Penalties — James, TC (roughing), 7:16; Brown, TC (cross-checking), 10:49; Buziak, Reg, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 14:00; Kalinichenko, TC, major (fighting), 14:00; Creta, Reg (high-sticking), 18:38.
Third — No scoring. Penalties — Sawchuk, TC (tripping), 5:44; Mahura, Reg (cross-checking), 9:30; Bradley, Reg, major (fighting), 15:42; Brown, TC, major (fighting), 15:42; Creat, Reg (roughing), 17:19; Geekie, TC, double minor (cross-checking, roughing), 17:19.
Shots — Reg 5-1015 — 30. TC 10-9-5 — 24. Power plays — Reg 0-5. TC 3-9. Goalies — Reg Brown 9-8-2-0 (14 shots-10 saves), Paddock (12:58 of 2nd, 10-8). TC Dea 7-4-2-0 (30-30). Referees — Ian Jendro and Sean Raphael. A — 4,003.
WHL Career Coaching Wins
Through Nov. 24
1, Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742
2, Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver), 730
3, Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane), 692
4, Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina), 626
5 (tie), Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) and Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City), 548