The Seattle Thunderbirds pounded the Tri-City Americans 9-2 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick on Wednesday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round Western Hockey League playoff series.
Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is 7:05 p.m. Friday at the Toyota Center.
The line of Donovan Neuls, Alexander True and Keegan Kolesar combined for three goals and 10 assists in the win. Neuls had a goal and four assists and True and Kolesar each had a goal and three assists.
Ethan Bear had two goals and three assists and Austin Strand had two goals.
Seattle goalie Carl Stankowski made 21 saves on 23 shots to get the win.
Seattle jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 2:55 of the first period. True won a faceoff in the left circle of the Americans zone to Kolesar on the right wing. Kolesar sent the puck to Bear at the mid-point. Bear took a wrist shot that was blocked and came right back to him. Bear skated to his right and took a slap shot with True in front of Tri-City goalie Evan Sarthou. Bear’s shot beat Sarthou low for his first goal of the playoffs.
The T-Birds took a 2-0 lead on a four-on-four goal from Scott Eansor at 7:48 of the first. Sami Moilanen passed the puck to Bear who moved it to Eansor as he skated up the left wing. Eansor skated into the left circle and beat Sarthou with a wrist shot over the glove.
Jarret Tyszka poked in a loose puck on a scramble in front of Sarthou at 10:16 of the first to give the T-Birds a 3-0 lead. Zack Andrusiak and Tyler Adams both got assists as they got a stick on the puck.
Sarthou was replaced by Rylan Parenteau after the T-Birds third goal. Sarthou made four saves on seven shots.
The T-Birds extended the lead to 4-0 at 12:03 of the first. True took a shot that Parenteau stopped but lay to the left of the goalie. Neuls swept the puck past the goalie as he lay on the ice for his second goal of the playoffs. Kolesar had the second assist.
Strand scored a power-play goal at 17:08 of the first to give the T-Birds a 5-0 lead. Bear sent the puck from the right point to Neuls in the left circle. Neuls passed the puck to Strand at the left point. Strand skated into the left circle and beat Parenteau with a wrist shot low.
Seattle outshot Tri-City 14-5 in the first period.
The T-Birds and Americans combined for five goals in the last five minutes of the second period to make it an 8-2 T-Birds lead heading into the second intermission.
Kolesar started the string of scoring at 15:03 of the second period. Kolesar beat Parenteau from the right circle for his third goal of the playoffs. A True shot rebounded to Neuls who fed Kolesar.
Tri-City got on the board when Austyn Playfair scored at 16:56 of the second. Maxwell James and Dakota Krebs had the assists.
Seattle answered right back at 17:13 of the second on a goal from True. Neuls forced a turnover and the puck came to True in the slot. True beat Parenteau with a wrist shot.
Bear made it an 8-2 lead at 18:40 with a power-play goal. Kolesar passed the puck to Bear in the high slot and he beat Parenteau with a slap shot. Neuls had the second assist.
The T-Birds three goals in the second period came in 3:37.
Morgan Geekie scored for the Americans with 19 seconds left in the period. Tyler Sandhu had the only assist.
The T-Birds outshot Tri-City 14-10 in the second period and led 28-15 in shots after two periods.
Strand scored on the power play at 16:10 of the third period to get the T-Birds ninth and final goal. Bear took a pass from Stankowski and then passed to Strand on the right wing in the Seattle zone. Strand skated up ice and into the Americans zone. Strand beat Parenteau with a wrist shot from the right circle.
Both teams had eight shots on goal in the third period. The T-Birds finished with a 36-23 advantage in shots.
Parenteau made 23 saves on 29 shots.
Seattle vs. Tri-City, best-of-7, first-round playoff
Game 1 – At Seattle 4, Tri-City 2
Game 2 – At Seattle 5, Tri-City 2
Game 3 – Seattle 9, at Tri-City 2
Game 4 – Seattle at Tri-City, Friday, March 31, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 – Tri-City at Seattle, Saturday, April 1, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 6 – Seattle at Tri-City, Monday, April 3, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 7 – Tri-City at Seattle, Wednesday, April 5, 7:05 p.m.*
* if necessary
First period – 1, Seattle, Bear 1 (True, Kolesar), 2:55. 2, Seattle, Eansor 2 (Bear, Moilanen), 7:48. 3, Seattle, Tyszka 1 (Andrusiak, Adams), 10:16. 4, Seattle 2 (True, Kolesar), 12:03. 5, Seattle, Strand 2 (Neuls, Bear), 17:08 (pp). Penalties – Bishop, Sea (hooking), 6:59. Valimaki, Tri (interference), 7:26. Kolesar, Sea (interference), 14:20. Topping, Tri (double minor high-sticking), 15:53. Wotherspoon, Tri (slashing), 20:00. Kolesar, Sea (embellishment), 20:00.
Second period – 6, Seattle, Kolesar 3 (Neuls, True), 15:03. 7, Tri-City, Playfair 2 (James, Krebs), 16:56. 8, Seattle, True 1 (Neuls), 17:13. 9, Seattle, Bear 2 (Kolesar, Neuls), 18:40 (pp). 10, Tri-City, Geekie 1 (Sandhu), 19:41. Penalties – Bench, Sea (too many men-served by Moilanen), 1:12. Coghlan, Tri (high-sticking), 17:23.
Third period – 11, Seattle, Strand 3 (Bear, Stankowski), 16:10. Penalties – True, Sea (roughing), 1:03. Lukin, Tri (roughing), 1:03. Strand, Sea (hooking), 2:58. Valimaki, Tri (tripping), 9:11. Bench, Tri (too many men-served by Leason), 15:20. Andrusiak, Sea (roughing), 17:14. Topping, Tri (roughing, 10-minute misconduct), 17:14. James, Tri (tripping), 19:30.
Shots on goal – Seattle 14-11-8 36, Tri-City 5-10-8 23. Goalies – Seattle, Stankowski 23 shots-21 saves (3-0-0); Tri-City, Sarthou 7-4 (0-1-0), Parenteau 29-23. Power plays – Seattle 2-5; Tri-City 0-4. A – 2,632. Referees – Mike Campbell, Adam Griffiths. Linesmen – Nick Bilko, Trevor Shively.