The Tri-City Americans won their first preseason game Thursday, beating the Kootenay Ice 4-1 in the opening game of the Red Lion Hotels Preseason Tournament at Toyota Center.
The Americans (1-3), who dropped all three of their games at the Everett Preseason Classic last weekend, took the lead for good Thursday with a goal by Marcus Messier at 12:50 of the second period.
“When you play hockey you always want to win,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. “We saw a a lot of positive things. It takes time. I thought players looked more comfortable today.”
Tournament play gets into full swing today with Portland and Everett playing at 11 a.m., followed by Kootenay and Spokane at 3 p.m. Tri-City will play Seattle at 7:05 p.m.
“It will be a different lineup again for us (today),” Hiller said. “There will be some fresh players.”
The Ice, playing its first preseason game, opened the scoring at 11:03 of the first as Jon Martin beat Evan Sarthou. Former Tri-City defenseman Clint Filbrandt assisted on the goal.
The Americans evened the score at 14:32 as Austyn Playfair, with an assist by Ty Comrie, put the puck past Kootenay goalie Wyatt Hoflin.
Comrie leads Tri-City in preseason scoring with four points — all assists.
After Messier put the Americans on top, he assisted on a goal by Beau McCue at 11:24 for a 3-1 lead.
The Ice pulled its goalie for an extra attacker late in the game, but the result was an empty-net goal by McCue at 19:39 to seal the win.
“Beau had seven or eight really good chances,” Hiller said. “He stuck with it. His two goals were his last two shots. It’s a good example of sticking with it and not getting discouraged.”
Sarthou, a rookie from Black Diamond, started the game and stopped 19 of 20 shots in working the first 32 minutes and 50 seconds of the game. Troy Trombley finished in net, stopping all 13 shots that came his way.
“That was the best outing of the year for both of them,” Hiller said. “They both were solid tonight.”
Hoflin finished with 36 saves for Kootenay.
The Americans are playing without goalie Eric Comrie (Winnipeg), forward Connor Rankin (Pittsburgh) and defensemen Michal Plutnar (Detroit) and Zach Yuen (Toronto), who are attending NHL camps. They are scheduled to return next week.