It may take Rodney Southam a day or two for his first WHL goal to sink in, but the Tri-City Americans appreciated it from the moment it crossed the goal line.
Southam scored two goals and Eric Comrie finished with 37 saves as the Americans ended a two-game slide with a 4-2 victory over the Victoria Royals before a Friday night crowd of 4,447 at Toyota Center.
“It was the best feeling so far of the season,” Southam said of his first goal. “I have been working so hard every game, the bounces just weren’t going my way. Finally, they started to this weekend.”
The Americans (5-7-0-1), who had played eight of their last 10 games on the road, are home for five in a row. They host the Portland Winterhawks tonight.
“This was a good start for the homestand,” said Tri-City forward Brian Williams. “It’s a good feeling in the locker room. We just wanted to be home.”
The B.C. Division-leading Royals (8-6-0-0) saw their five-game win streak come to a halt, and leading scorer Logan Nelson had his six-game goal streak come to an end.
“They are a pretty strong team,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of Victoria. “We needed Eric a little more than we wanted to when we got up by three.”
The Americans led 2-0 after the first period and had a 3-0 lead early in the second before the Royals staged a comeback to make it 3-2 with 20 minutes to play.
Leading 2-0, Lucas Nickles gave the Americans a 3-0 lead 3:55 into the second period and Tri-City seemed to have things under control — for the next minute.
At 4:56, Victoria’s Luke Harrison, with his third whack at the puck finally got it past Comrie at the left post to get on the board.
The Royals would pull within 3-2 as Ben Walker found Brett Cote all alone behind Comrie. Cote had an open net for his first goal of the season on the man advantage at 11:36.
“The second period we got sloppy,” Hiller said. “Sloppy on our breakouts and our D, but we cleaned that up in the third. It was a good game.”
Southam scored his second goal at 10:19 of the third to seal the win.
“(Braden) Purtill’s line played most of the night against their top line and scored two goals,” Hiller said. “I can’t ask much more than that.”
Tri-City wasted no time in finding the net as Southam picked up a rebound off a shot by Justin Marreck and lifted the puck into the net for his first WHL goal at 2:28.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Southam said. “When I scored I was so amazed, everything was rushing through my head.”
Williams gave the Americans a 2-0 lead 4 1/2 minutes later, taking a pass from Purtill at the blue and skating into the Royals’ zone.
Williams cut inside of Victoria defenseman Joe Hicketts and blasted the puck past goalie Patrik Polivka. The puck rang off the far post and into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
“It was 1-on-2, if I remember,” Williams said. “There wasn’t a lot to it. I wasn’t really trying to score, if that makes sense. I just wanted to get the puck on net and get off the ice. It hit the post and went in. I will take it and run with it.”
NOTES: Kennewick native Trevor Shively, who has called many Americans games as a linesman, wore the orange referee stripes for the game, working with Mike Campbell. ... Royals veteran F Brandon Magee sat out his third game with a lower body injury. He is schedule to return next week.