Once again, a late goal spelled doom for the Tri-City Americans.
Portland’s Mason Mannek scored with one minute remaining in regulation, and Skyler McKenzie scored the game winner in overtime as the Portland Winterhawks rallied for a 3-2 victory Friday over the Americans in a key U.S. Division game.
“You have to come out of that game with two (points) in the last minute at home,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “It’s a race in our division. We have two more big games this weekend. We have to be prepared for Spokane.”
The Americans (19-10-4-0, 42 points) did come out of the game with a point, but the Winterhawks (22-12-0-1, 45 points) pulled within one point of division leader Everett. Tri-City is all alone in third place in the division after Seattle rallied to beat Spokane 5-4.
“There are so many good teams in our division,” said Portland coach Mike Johnston, whose team ended the Americans four-game win streak. “We both have top players out of the lineup. We had a lot of 16- and 17-year-old players in our lineup, it looked like a preseason game.”
After two scoreless periods of play, the Americans got on the board first as Parker AuCoin, fresh out of the penalty box, scored unassisted just 1:32 into the third period.
“It’s really good to be back,” said AuCoin, who missed a month of action with a broken bone in his foot. “We had a good crowd and the fans were great.”
The Winterhawks would even things out at 8:24 with a goal by Ty Kolle, but a power-play goal by Jordan Topping at 13:58 put the Americans back on top 2-1.
Desperate for a goal, and without a shot on goal for 7 minutes, Portland pulled goalie Shane Farkas with 1:15 to play for an extra attacker.
The move paid off as Mannek put the puck past Patrick Dea’s left shoulder with 1 minute left on the clock.
“It’s hard to give up goals like that,” AuCoin said. “It stings for a little bit. It’s hard to give up points to division rivals ahead of us.”
Dea finished with 36 saves, while Farkas had 39 for Portland, which ended a three-game slide.
In a hard-hitting first period, both teams had a few quality chances with 29 combined shots on goal.
Tri-City’s Morgan Geekie reeled in a nice pass across the slot from Isaac Johnson and had an open net, but he lifted the puck and it went over the net at 10:49.
The Winterhawks hit three posts, including two in the final 1:10 of the period.
The second period featured much of the same. Portland had what looked to be a goal by Alex Overhardt, but video replay showed the puck went off the cross bar.
Jordan Topping had a great opportunity in the slot at 7:25, but his shot went over the net. Topping had another shot with 1:14 left in the period, taking a pass from Geekie, but Farkas was able to make the stop.
With 23.5 seconds left in the period, Geekie knocked the puck away from Cody Glass and took off up ice. Geekie got held up by Glass and was awarded a penalty shot, which he did not convert.
Winterhawks 3, Americans 2 (OT)
First — No scoring. Penalties — Coghlan, TC, double minor (high-sticking), 19:01.
Second — No scoring. Penalties — De Jong, Por (tripping), 3:22; Gricius, Por (high-sticking), 10:24; Focht, TC (holding), 10:24; Krebs, TC (holding), 12:01; Gricius, Por (roughing), 16:28; Krebs, TC, double minor, (boarding, roughing), 16:28; AuCoin, TC (slashing), 19:23.
Third — 1, TC, AuCoin 7, 1:36. 2, Por, Kolle 4 (Overhardt), 8:24. 3, TC, Topping 17 (Olson, Coghlan), 13:58 (pp). 4, Por, Mannek 5 (MacEachern, Overhardt), 19:00. Penalties — Hanus, Por (roughing), 13:22.
Overtime — 5, Por, McKenzie 24 (Hughes, De Jong), 2:45. Penalties — None.
Shots — Por 16-12-10-1 — 39. TC 13-8-17-3 — 41. Power plays — Por 0-5. TC 1-2. Missed penalty shot — Geekie, TC, 19:37 of 2nd. Goalies — Por, Farkas 4-4-0-0 (41 shots-39 saves). TC, Dea 8-5-4-0 (39-36). Referees — Stephen Campbell and Brett Iverson. A — 4,200.