Tri-City Americans

How sweep it is: One team punches ticket to Western Conference finals

Tri-City’s Sasha Mutala celebrates his first-period goal Wednesday night against the Victoria Royals at Toyota Center.
Tri-City’s Sasha Mutala celebrates his first-period goal Wednesday night against the Victoria Royals at Toyota Center. Doug Love

The way the Tri-City Americans have been playing, local hardware stores are going to have to order more brooms.

Morgan Geekie scored the game winner at 5:29 of the third period as the Americans beat Victoria 5-3 on Wednesday night to sweep the Royals in the second round of the WHL playoffs at Toyota Center.

"They did a great job," Americans coach Mike Williamson said. "I thought we went out in the third and pushed the pace. We looked confident, were aggressive and got those two goals."

Tri-City, which swept Kelowna in the first round, set a franchise record by winning the first two rounds of the playoffs without a loss. The Americans are celebrating their 30th season in the Tri-Cities.

"Maybe down the road we will look back on that," Williamson said. "It takes four to win a series; whether you get them at the start or find a way to win in the end, It doesn't matter."

Up next for the Americans is the Western Conference finals against either Everett or Portland. The Silvertips lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 on Thursday.

Tri-City won the 2010 Western Conference title, beating Vancouver.

Wednesday night, the Royals struck first with a goal by Noah Gregor, but the lead did not last long.

Isaac Johnson started a string of three goals at 9:06, followed by rookie Sasha Mutala cleaning up in front of the net for his first goal the playoffs.

At 15:58, Dylan Coghlan blasted the puck from the point. It rang off the cross bar and dropped into the net for a 3-1 lead after one period.

The Royals owned the second, getting goals from Kaid Oliver and Gregor, with his second of the night, to pull even at 3-3 at the end of two periods.

Geekie's goal and an insurance goal by Riley Sawchuk at 16:21 of the third sealed the win.

Geekie leads the WHL in playoff goals with 15 goals. He and teammate Michael Rasmussen, who added an assist, are tied for second with 24 points.

"It is awesome," Geekie said of the sweep. "We are playing good hockey right now and I'm lucky to be playing with good linemates in Razzy and Sash (Sasha Mutala). I don't know if I have changed too much. Pucks are bouncing my way."

Jake Bean, who came over in a trade with Calgary in January, handed out three assists, giving him eight in the past two games.

"It's awesome just to get the opportunity to compete in the playoffs," Bean said. "We are coming together now. It's fun to play with these guys. It's all about who is rolling at playoff time, and we are showing that."

It's the second time the Americans have gotten to end a series on home ice for their fans, who Bean adores.

"It was so loud," Bean said. "One of the loudest crowds, for sure. We have great fans here and they support us through thick and thin. We didn't have the best regular season, but they are here supporting us."

Americans 5, Royals 3











First — 1, Vic, Gregor 5 (Kambeitz, Prowse), 3:49. 2, TC, Johnson 4 (Topping, Yaremko), 9:09. 3, TC, Mutala 1 (Geekie, Bean), 12:36. 4, TC, Coghlan 3 (Bean, Geekie), 15:58. Penalties — Reddekopp, Vic (interference), 19:30.

Second — 5, Vic, Oliver 1 (Reddekopp, Martynov), 2:43. 6, Vic, Gregor 6 (Freadrich, Phillips), 11:20 (pp). Penalties — Topping, TC (hooking), 11:03; Kalinichenko, TC (hooking), 13:56.

Third — 7, TC, Geekie 15 (Rasmussen, Bean), 5:29. 8, TC, Sawchuk 1, 16:21. Penalties — Bishop, TC (tripping), 5:38.

Shots — Vic 5-11-5 — 27. TC 13-9-17 — 39. Power plays — Vic 1-3. TC 0-1. Goalies — Vic, Outhouse 4-7 (39 shots-34 saves). TC, Dea 7-0 (27-24). Referees — Adam Griffiths and Kyle Kowalski. A —3,073.

Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574, @TCHIceQueen