Tri-City Americans

Ams scramble past T-birds

It's never a good thing to one-up your boss, but in Drew Owsley's case, one would think Olie Kolzig will applaud the effort.

Owsley finished with 25 saves and Jordan Messier scored the game winner with 9:10 left in the game as the Tri-City Americans handed the Seattle Thunderbirds a 3-2 loss Tuesday night at Toyota Center.

The win gives Owsley 38 for his career, surpassing Kolzig (37), the team's owner and former NHL star, to move into sixth place on the Americans' career list.

"It's pretty cool to pass a guy like him," said Owsley, who won his league-leading 31st game. "It's an honor to be mentioned with him."

Tri-City (39-13-0-2, 80 points) is tied atop the WHL standings with Brandon, while Saskatoon is close behind with 78 points. The Americans have a nine-point lead over Portland and Everett in the U.S. Division standings.

"We weren't great, but we had enough guys who were good and carried the load," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "Give Seattle credit, they played us really well. We were in the penalty box too much tonight and that gave them momentum."

Seattle (14-32-5-4, 37 points) has lost 12 games in a row and has not won at Toyota Center since Jan. 28, 2008 -- a span of 12 games.

"We're playing a lot of young guys, and sometimes the lessons have been tough," said Seattle coach Rob Sumner. "We aren't winning, and that's challenging. We'll keep our heads up."

The Americans, who had to rally from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1, took control in the third. Messier's goal was his fifth game-winner of the season.

"I've been in a little bit of a slump lately, but the team has been winning," Messier said. "I just go to the net hard. I think Willy (Mason Wilgosh) or Proks (Neal Prokop) chipped it to the net and I managed to get it by him (Seattle goalie Michael Salmon)."

Trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Americans came out and tied the game 5:25 into the second as Sergei Drozd scored just 8 seconds into a power play.

Three minutes later, the Thunderbirds were working on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:02, then had another minute left on the second penalty. The Americans, who got nearly 90 seconds of penalty kill work from Justin Feser, Brett Plouffe and Johnny Lazo, allowed Seattle just two shots on goal.

"Killing that 5-on-3 was the key to the game," Hiller said."

Later in the second, Tri-City was working on its second power play of the period when Drozd coughed up the puck at the blue line. Seattle's Charles Wells took it down ice all alone and beat Owsley with a short-handed goal at 12:45 for a 2-1 lead.

It was only the seventh short-handed goal given up by the Americans this season.

Feser won a face-off with Seattle's Lindsay Nielsen with a minute left in the period, starting a play that ended with Americans captain Jarrett Toll tying the game with 53 seconds left on the clock.

Seattle killed off two Tri-City power plays in the third and pulled Salmon the last 57 seconds of the game for an extra attacker, but couldn't even the score.

"A few things went wrong," Sumner said. "We were 0-for-8 on the power play, and we had a lengthy 5-on-3 but didn't get anything out of it. We were in good shape in the third, we just didn't win the puck battles."

Seattle opened the scoring at 10:14 of the first as Nielsen's pass from behind the net hit Owsley's right pad and ricochetted into the net.

Notes: Owsley, playing in his 61st career game, surpassed Don Blishen (60) on the team's all-time games played list. He also passed Blake Ward (3,172) for ninth on the all-time minutes played list. Owsley has played 2,469 minutes this season and 3,224 during his career. ... Americans forward Kruise Reddick left the game in the first period after taking a puck to the foot and did not return. He had X-rays after the game. His status for tonight is unknown.