Tri-City Americans

Nugent-Hopkins leads Rebels past Ams

KENNEWICK -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was as good as his billing.

The crafty Red Deer forward scored a pair of power-play goals and added an assist to lead the Rebels to a 5-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans before a crowd of 5,000 at Toyota Center on Saturday night.

Nugent-Hopkins, who hadn't scored a goal since Sept. 29, is in the midst of a six-game point streak that includes two goals and 10 assists.

"It has been a long time coming. I'm happy to finally get one," said Nugent-Hopkins, a projected top-five pick in the 2011 NHL draft. "After coming off a tough loss to Portland (on Friday), it's nice to get the two points. I liked playing here, the atmosphere is great."

It was the second straight loss by the Americans (11-5-1-1, 24 points) -- both of which were on home ice.

"Their shots found the back of the net and ours found the pads and the leather of the goalie," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "It's disappointing. There is no other word for it. There is nothing we can do about it now. We had our chance and didn't get it done."

And the Americans had plenty of chances, outshooting the Rebels 37-24, including a 16-6 shot advantage in the third period.

"Our defense did a good job limiting Red Deer's chances, but I thought our forwards were lacking," Hiller said. "We weren't assertive enough, which leads to being crisper and sharper around the net. You have to give (Red Deer goalie Darcy Kuemper) credit, he had a solid game. We just needed more passion from our guys up front."

Kuemper had a solid effort in goal for the Rebels, finishing with 34 saves to pick up his league-leading 12th win.

The Rebels (12-6-1-0, 25 points) are 2-2 on their swing through the U.S. Division, which will end Tuesday in Everett.

"They are a good hockey team," said Red Deer coach Jesse Wallin of the Americans. "They are quick and good on the rush. We found some energy late in the second period. It was huge to go up 3-1. That gave us a spark."

After a scoreless first period, Brooks Macek put the Americans on the board at 2:18 with a power-play goal, taking a nice feed from Justin Feser and finding daylight glove side on Kuemper.

The lead held until 9:57, when Mathew Dumba's shot in the slot went between Drew Owsley's pads to tie the game.

Daulton Siwak and Nugent-Hopkins added goals over the next six minutes for a 3-1 lead.

"It's nice to score, but when the team isn't winning, it's not any fun," said Macek, who played his 150th WHL game. "That's the way the game goes sometimes -- 1-0 for us, 3-1 for them. We have to be better than that."

Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal just 2:22 into the third on the man advantage.

"It's good just for his sake to get the piano off his back," Wallin said of Nugent-Hopkins. "He's played well and had opportunities -- we knew it was just a matter of time."

Jordan Messier and Adam Hughesman scored in the last eight minutes of the game for Tri-City, but with a goal by Byron Froese between them, the Americans couldn't catch the Rebels.

* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; afowler@tricityherald.com

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