Jordan Messier is a big kid at heart, so it was fitting Saturday night that he brought down a rain of 2,537 stuffed animals that will be putting smiles on the faces of children in the Mid-Columbia this holiday season.
Messier's goal, combined with Adam Hughesman's game-winner in the shootout, helped the Tri-City Americans rally for a 4-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips before a generous crowd of 5,284 at Toyota Center.
"That's awesome," Messier said of the number of toys donated. "It goes to a good cause, and when you can do this with your name beside it, it's a special feeling."
The Americans have 10 wins and one tie in the last 11 years of the Teddy Bear Toss. Everett has been on the losing end of this game three times (2003, 2005 and 2011).
With the win, the Americans (21-7-0-0, 42 points) remained atop the Western Conference, one point ahead of Kamloops.
"We didn't start well, but I thought we played well for 55 minutes," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team has won six in a row on home ice. "We persevered. It would have been easy to get on the wrong side of this."
Everett (5-18-0-5, 14 points) has lost six in a row and 12 of its last 13 games.
"They played hard," Everett coach Mark Ferner said of his team. "We are still disappointed we lost, but happy with our compete level. They are a fragile group. Right now we need to get some wins, but we have to handle it right. Tri-City is a good hockey team. They are one of the best in the country for a reason."
Trailing 2-1 after two periods, the Americans pulled even with a goal by Derek Ryckman -- his first with Tri-City -- 3:23 into the third.
"It's nice to get my first as an American, and even nicer to get it at a big moment in the game," Ryckman said.
Teal Burns gave the Silvertips a 3-2 lead 4 1/2 minutes later, but Brendan Shinnimin connected on the power play at 11:50 to tie the score.
Hughesman was the only player to score in the shootout.
"You want to do anything you can to help your team out," said Hughesman, who also had two assists. "There was a big crowd tonight and it was a big win. Everett played well, but we handled the adversity to the end."
Eric Comrie finished with 24 saves in regulation for Tri-City, and stopped all three Everett shooters in the shootout for his first shootout win.
The Silvertips jumped out to a 2-0 lead on just four shots 8:58 into the game, starting with Cody Fowlie's short-handed goal at 5:17. Kohl Bauml made it 2-0, quieting the boisterous crowd.
Messier's goal, coming on a 5-on-3 power play, put the Americans on the board, but Tri-City was out of sorts, scoring just once on 17 shots on goal.
There was no scoring in the second, but not for lack of trying.
The Americans outshot the Tips 11-10, but it was Everett that had a golden opportunity to extend its lead with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:31 with just less than six minutes left in the period.
But the Tri-City penalty kill, ranked third in the league, shut the down the Tips as Mason Wilgosh, Justin Feser and Sam Grist worked the full 1:31 as Everett managed three shots on goal and rang one shot off the post.
"We played through some adversity," Hiller said. "We needed that kill."
AMERICANS 4, SILVERTIPS 3 (SO)
Everett 2 0 1 0 -- 3
Tri-City 1 0 2 0 -- 4
Tri-City wins shootout 1-0
First -- 1, Evt, Fowlie 6 (Walters), 5:15 (sh). 2, Evt, Bauml 4 (Harrison), 8:58. 3, TC, J.Messier 9 (Shinnimin, Hughesman), 11:58 (pp). Penalties -- Bauml, Evt (high-sticking), 4:23; Walters, Evt (cross-checking), 10:56; Harrison, Evt (roughing), 11:30; Ryckman, TC (tripping), 13:57.
Second -- No scoring. Penalties -- Grayson, Evt, major (fighting), 7:20; J.Messier, TC, major (fighting), 7:20; Plutnar, TC (interference), 8:33; Strmwall, TC (tripping), 13:43, Ryckman, TC (tripping), 14:12; Harrison, Evt (roughing), 17:47; Ryckman, TC (roughing), 17:47.
Third -- 4, TC, Ryckman 2 (Feser, Rankin), 3:23. 5, Evt, Burns 1, 7:57. 6, TC, Shinnimin 11 (Strmwall, Hughesman), 11:50 (pp). Penalties -- Erricson, Evt (hooking), 10:33.
Overtime -- No scoring. Penalties -- None.
Shots -- Evt 5-10-8-4 -- 27. TC 17-11-18-3 -- 49. Power plays -- Evt 0-4. TC 2-4. Shootout -- Evt 0 (Winquist NG, Birkholz NG, Branett NG). TC 1 (Hughesman G, Shinnimin NG). Goalies -- Evt, Simpson 4-15-0-2 (49 shots-46 saves). TC, Comrie 9-3-0-0 (27-24). Referees -- Adam Griffiths and Colby Smith. A -- 5,284.