The Tri-City Americans needed a boost to get them going in the right direction, and Friday's 4-0 win over the Kootenay Ice might just be the shot in the arm that puts them back on the winning track.
Brendan Shinnimin scored a pair of goals and Drew Owsley posted his second shutout of the season with 35 saves as the Americans beat Kootenay before a Thanksgiving holiday crowd of 4,455 at Toyota Center.
"This is the best full game I've played and the team has played," Owsley said. "Coming in we needed a big game. They are ranked high --this was a measuring stick and we played a full 60 minutes."
After a streak that saw the Americans drop five in a row, they now have a two-game win streak.
"From start to finish, our most complete game all year," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "I thought we had everyone on the same page. It was a good result against a good team -- a physical team."
Tri-City (14-9-1-1, 30 points) is second in the U.S. Division behind Portland. The Winterhawks, who dropped a 6-2 game to Chilliwack on Friday, will be at Toyota Center tonight.
Nathan Lieuwen finished with 32 saves for the Ice (16-7-0-2, 34 points), which now has been shutout in back-to-back games after losing 5-0 to Red Deer on Tuesday. The last time Kootenay was shutout two games in a row was Oct. 27 and 29, 2004.
"We've had trouble scoring goals the last few games," said Ice coach Kris Knoblauch, whose team was ranked ninth in this week's CHL poll. "We've struggled with our power play (0-3 on Friday) all season -- we are at the bottom of the league (13.8 percent). Tri-City is an excellent hockey team. They have struggled a bit with injuries and suspensions, but they were ready for us."
With no goals to speak of, the highlight of the first period being Tri-City defenseman Zach Yuen dumping Kootenay's Jesse Ismond head first into his own team bench. From there, the game was physical to the end.
"They were the most physical team we have played this year," Yuen said. "We stepped up our game and started hitting, too. They are one of the top two or three teams in the league; this was one of our best efforts."
The second period brought two goals for the Americans, who made good use of their fourth power play of the night.
With Ismond going to the penalty box for kneeing at 8:05, it took the Americans just 25 seconds to get the puck past Lieuwen as Justin Feser's blast from the left point found the back of the net.
Neal Prokop had the second assist on the goal, giving him points in both games he's played since coming back from an 8-month hiatus with a broken leg.
Shinnimin put the Americans out front 2-0 at 11:11, picking up a rebound in the slot off a shot from the point by Brock Sutherland and slid the puck into the net.
Kootenay's best scoring chance came at 13:10 of the second as Ismond and Christian Magnus had a breakaway and had Owsley all to themselves. But just as the rest of the night had gone, Ismond shanked his shot off the crossbar.
Brooks Macek beat Lieuwen beat over his glove a 7:58 of the third, and Shinnimin finished the scoring with a textbook wraparound goal at 15:26.
"It was an outstanding team effort -- from Drew to the back end to the forwards," Shinnimin said. "We were blocking shots and doing the little things. The potential we have is pretty great. When we play like we know we can, we are one of the top teams in the league."