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Americans take game one in series with Cougars

The Tri-City Americans fended off a furious push by the Prince George Cougars to win game one of their first-round playoff series 6-4 at the CN Centre Friday night.

The game had a fast start with both teams creating some early chances. Tomas Suchanek stood tall in the Americans crease to keep the game scoreless before Tri-City picked up a pair of goals late in the period.

Alex Serraglio fired the puck on net from the left circle which was fought off by Tyler Brennan, but the rebound sat at the top of the crease. Tyson Greenway got a number of whacks at it before sliding it into the net, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead with 3:15 remaining in the opening frame.

Greenway then added his second of the game 2:16 later, redirecting a shot from Adam Mechura through the five hole of Brennan to give the Americans a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Shots read 14-13 Tri-City after one.

The Americans pushed their lead to 3-0 just 4:15 into the second period as Parker Bell jumped on a rebound for his first of the playoffs. Prince George began to push back a few minutes later.

Suchanek tried to bat a bouncing puck away from the goal line but it was intercepted by Fischer O’Brien who quickly centred for Caden Brown to get the Cougars on the board at 3-1.

A little over three minutes later, Hudson Thornton fired a shot through traffic to get the Cougars to within one with 9:19 remaining in the second period. Prince George had the momentum for nearly the remainder of the period, eventually outshooting the Americans 18-9 in the second. Tri-City carried their 3-2 lead into the third period.

The Cougars picked up where they left off to start the third period however as Brown scored his second of the game 2:03 into the third to tie the game at three.

Jake Sloan then got the Americans back in front nearly three minutes later. He and Jordan Gavin gained the Cougars line off the rush, and Gavin slid the puck to Sloan who was heading toward the front of the net. Sloan tipped the puck over the blocker of Brennan and off the back bar, restoring Tri-City’s lead 4:46 into the third period.

Off a face-off win two minutes later, Deagan McMillan beat a screened Brennan from the slot to put the Americans up 5-3.

Prince George wouldn’t go away quietly however, getting back to within one three minutes later. The game remained 5-4 until the final minute when the Cougars thought they had tied the game.

During a net-mouth scramble Jaxsen Wiebe shot the puck into the net, but the replay clearly showed that the net was off its pegs before the puck went in. The goal was taken back to keep the Americans up 5-4, and off the ensuing face-off Jalen Luypen hit the empty net from centre ice to seal a 6-4 final score.

Game two goes Saturday night before the series shifts to the Toyota Center for game three on Tuesday.

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