Kennewick, WA - It may not have happened as quickly as it did last year, but Brooks Macek made sure the fans got to toss their teddy bears on Saturday night.
Macek scored twice and Drew Owsley stopped 33 shots to guide the Tri-City Americans (23-9-0-0, 46 pts) past the visiting Portland Winterhawks (20-13-0-1, 41 pts) 5-2 in front of 4,409 generous fans at Toyota Center. After Macek's first goal, Americans fans donated 2,683 teddy bears to various Mid-Columbia charities. With the win, Tri-City has won four of their last five games and improves to 4-0 versus the 'Hawks this season. Meanwhile, Portland, who came in a winner in four of their last five games, has now lost in their last six visits to Kennewick.
In last season's Teddy Bear Toss, Mitch Fadden scored just 58 seconds into the contest to bring out the bears. This year, both Johnny Lazo and Brendan Shinnimin just missed their chances to activate the launch a mere 15 seconds into Saturday night's contest. But, after dominating the shot advantage to start, Macek finally connected to start the onslaught. With 12 minutes gone in the first period and on the power play, Shinnimin found Macek waiting backdoor who the buried the pass.
Less than two minutes later, Macek connected again on the power play, this time following up a rebound from Adam Hughesman, to make it a 2-0 Tri-City lead. The goal marked the first multi-goal game of Macek's young WHL career, who was named the SonShine Collision Services' offensive player of the month for November before the game.
But, with less than two minutes remaining in the period, Portland used a power play goal of their own to cut the deficit in half. Ty Rattie notched his first of two on the night when he snapped a shot between the pads of Owsley.
The turning point of the game, however, appeared to come early into the second period. Despite allowing two goals in the first period, Mac Carruth made several key saves in the first period to keep Portland close. But, with just 2:38 gone in the period, Neal Prokop sent a shot in from out of the corner which found its way between the pads of Carruth. For Prokop, it was his seventh of the season and gave Tri-City the 3-1 lead.
Seven minutes later, Rattie connected again on the power play, cutting the lead back down to two. But, it would be as close as the 'Hawks could get. With less than six minutes remaining in the period, Riley McIntosh made a great effort to keep the puck in the Portland zone. Then, McIntosh found Nils Moser in the slot, who beat Carruth and put Tri-City up three.
Midway through the final period of play, Tri-City capped the scoring in the contest. While on the power play, a poor clearing pass was picked off by Macek. Macek then found Justin Feser in the slot who recorded his fifth goal in his last five games.
Owsley, making his 11th straight start, picked up his league-leading 22nd win of the year. Meanwhile, in just his fourth WHL game, Carruth totaled 30 saves on a season-high 35 shots faced in the loss. Tri-City finished the night 3-for-10 on the power play, while Portland was 2-for-6 on the man-advantage.
The Americans will now wrap-up their four games in five nights swing, as they prepare to face-off against the East Division's Swift Current Broncos tomorrow, Sunday, December 13th. Game time is 5:05 p.m. at Toyota Center. Tri-City has won their three previous meetings with the Broncos and is 2-1 vs. East Division opponents this season. Head coach Jim Hiller will be looking for his first career victory over Swift Current. Meanwhile, the Broncos started their U.S. Division swing with a 2-1 victory in Spokane on Saturday. But, Swift Current has struggled on the road this season, coming in with a record of 3-10-0-2. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 4:45 p.m.
Applebee's 3 Stars:
1, Brooks Macek, Tri-City
2, Ty Rattie, Portland
3, Mason Wilgosh, Tri-City