This is the team Tri-City coach Mike Williamson knew he had. He just needed all of his players to be healthy to put it all together.
Morgan Geekie scored three goals and had an assist, and Jake Bean had five assists as the Americans held on for a 6-5 victory over Victoria on Tuesday night to take a 3-0 series lead over the Royals at Toyota Center.
“We all had high expectations at the start of the year,” Williamson said. “We are in a tough division and with injuries and other things we couldn’t get any traction during the regular season. They are focused and committed. They want to play for a while.”
Game 4 of the best-of-7 second-round series is Wednesday at Toyota Center. If need be, Game 5 will be Friday in Victoria.
Geekie, who leads the WHL in playoff goals with 14, scored once in the first period and twice in the second for his second hat trick of the playoffs.
Nolan Yaremko also scored in the first period, while Dylan Coghlan added a goal in the third for Tri-City for a 5-0 lead.
“Jake and Cogs played a ton tonight with Juuso (Välimäki) out,” Williamson said. “Jake came in (after a trade from Calgary) and took a leadership role right away.”
The Royals caught fire in the third, getting goals from Igor Martynov, Tarun Fizer and Lane Zablocki, who scored with 4:18 remaining for a 5-3 game.
Dante Hannoun would pull the Royals within 5-4 at 17:50, but the Americans were not done.
Michael Rasmussen scored an empty-net goal with 45 seconds remaining to seal the win. He is tied for the lead with 23 playoff points.
“They have played extremely well,” Williamson said of Geekie and Rasmussen. “Razzy is consistent, and he is playing as good as I have ever seen him. He and Geeks are creating offense and playing against top lines.”
Patrick Dea, who was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Week, finished with 27 saves. He owns the second-best goals against average in the playoffs at 2.59.
The Americans swept the WHL weekly awards as Rasmussen was named the WHL Player of the Week. He added three assists to his goal, and has scored three or more points in all seven playoff games.
Americans 6, Royals 5
First — 1, TC, Geekie 12 (Bean, Yaremko), 9:45 (pp). 2, TC, Yaremko 6 (Geekie, Bean), 10:44 (pp). Penalties — Jarratt, Vic (hooking), 8:54. Phillips, Vic (slashing), 9:55; Gatenby, TC (holding opp. stick), 16:34; Geekie, TC (slashing), 20:00.
Second — 3, TC, Geekie 13 (Coghlan, Rasmussen), 2:45. 4, TC, Geekie 14 (Bean, Rasmussen), 11:10. Penalties —Zablocki, Vic (cross-ckecking), 4:00; Clayton, TC (elbowing), 6:39; James, TC (holding), 7:10; Coghlan, TC (tripping), 9:02.
Third — 5, TC, Coghlan 2 (Bean, Rasmussen), 6:39. 6, Vic, Martynov 1 (Jerome), 7:36. 7, Vic, Fizer 2 (Zablocki), 11:21. 8, Vic, Zablokci 2 (Martynov, Jarratt), 15:42 (pp). 9, Vic, Hannoun 5 (Phillips), 17:50. 10, TC, Rasmussen 10 (Bean), 19:15 (en). 11, Vic, Grishakov 1, 19:58. Penalties — Bean, TC (tripping), 4:21; Gatenby, TC (holding), 13:58.
Shots — Vic 6-8-18 — 32. TC 13-10-9 — 32. Power plays — Vic 1-7. TC 2-3. Goalies — Vic, Outhouse 4-6 (31 shots-26 saves). TC, 6-0 (32-27). Referees — Mike Campbell and Derek Zalaski. A — 2,909.