For 40 minutes Saturday night, it looked as if the Tri-City Americans would go into the Christmas break on a winning note.
But for the first time in 16 tries this season, the Americans couldn’t hold a third-period lead, and it cost them two precious points against a division rival.
The Everett Silvertips scored three times in the third to rally for a 4-2 home victory, ending the Americans’ three-game winning streak as the teams headed for the holiday hiatus.
“We made some mistakes in the third period, and they capitalized,” said Ams coach Jim Hiller, who was behind the bench despite receiving a game misconduct in Friday’s win over Vancouver. “We had the puck on our stick and turned it over a few times, and that got us in trouble.”
Adam Hughesman scored a pair of first-period goals — the second on one of only two Tri-City power plays on the night — to give the Ams a 2-1 lead. Hughesman tied Jordan Messier for the team lead with 20 heading into the break.
The lead remained the same after 40 minutes, but Everett’s Tyler Maxwell tied the game just 2 minutes into the third, and less than five minutes later, Brennan Yadlowski’s power-play tally proved to be the game-winner.
Brendan Shinnimin had a golden opportunity to send the game to overtime in the final minute, but Tips goalie Kent Simpson robbed him with a nifty glove save — the last of his 24. Scott MacDonald scored into an empty net a few seconds later to ice the win.
“Shinny had a real good lock in the slot, but Simpson stood tall,” Hiller said. “In the third period, those chances didn’t go in for us. They played real solid defensively (after the first period) and didn’t give us a whole lot of chances.”
The loss sends the Americans into the Christmas break with a 19-11-1-1 record after 32 games (the fewest played by a WHL team this season). A year ago, they were 23-9-0-0 at this point but hadn’t faced quite the roller-coaster ride of a season.
Considering the injury to captain Kruise Reddick (out 9 games to a concussion), the 12-game suspension served by top-line forward Brendan Shinnimin, and twice having to deal with an overage deadline, sitting at 40 points at the deadline is quite an accomplishment.
“It’s really been a season of ups and downs,” Hiller said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity the first part of the season. Things are just now starting to go our way. There’s a lot of work to do, but we’re starting to get there.”
The team now gets a week off to celebrate the holidays before gathering together in the Tri-Cities on Dec. 26. It will practice on the 27th before returning to action the following day in Portland.
Ams – Silvertips summary