The Tri-City Americans looked rested and ready Game 1.
After sweeping their first round opponents the Kelowna Rockets in four games, Tri-City had seven days in between the start of this series with the Victoria Royals.
With that length of rest there are generally two ways a team can respond. One result can be that a team can maybe lose the focus and drive while waiting for the next round of intense competition to start. In contrast, a second response can be a major positive, as the team uses the time to rest and sharpen their game.
Friday’s 7-0 Tri-City win clearly demonstrated that the Americans used their time to a full advantage. Apart from some early chances from Victoria, Tri-City was in full control for the game, their key players were their best players and secondary scoring showed up. An impressive team effort saw seven different goal scorers and five multi-point games. To compliment that offense, goaltender Patrick Dea posted the shutout with 27 saves, correcting some bad regular season showing against the Royals that saw him pulled in both games with numbers of 9.75gaa, .750sv%.
The start of the game saw Victoria getting some chances on Dea, but the Americans goaltender stood his ground for the first half of the period.
Some scattered play by the Royals in their own end paired with some good Tri-City fore-checking saw Victoria trapped in their own end around the 10 minute mark.That pressure led to a goal by Michael Rasmussen at 11:18 to open the scoring. Rasmussen ripped a slapper that appeared to hit the crossbar. It was not a clear goal but the referees and goal judges called it a goal without review. Video replay does end up showing that it went in and out so fast – if you blinked you missed it.
In the second, Victoria could not clear their zone and the red hot Morgan Geekie pounced on a rebound in the crease to make it 2-0 at 6:08. The goal was Geekie’s 10th in just five playoff games, and the Americans sniper had an impressive 12 shots on goal in the game.
The Americans added to their lead as mobile defencemen Jake Bean carried it into the Royals zone and went top-shelf on Outhouse for a 3-0 lead at 12:50.
Tri-City looked like they had made it 4-0 as Rasmussen tipped it into the net, but after a long review it was called off due to high-stick. However, four minutes later that 4-0 goal did end up coming for Tri-City at 16:45. A Bean shot to the net led to a rebound in the crease, where Nolan Yaremko fought off his check to smack the puck in. The goal was a nice reward for Yaremko, who played with a good blend of agitator and skilled forward to start the series.
Dylan Coghlan kicked off the scoring in the third period just 32 seconds in to make it 5-0. Goals by Jordan Topping at 5:44 and Parker AuCoin at 17:14 put the game solidly in the win column.
HIGHLIGHTS: @TCAmericans make it 5-straight, 1-0 series lead over Royals. @pdea01 holds down the fort for the 1st 10, then the offense blitz Victoria.
7 different goal scoers, 5 multi-pt games, every player with an even or plus rating. @M_14Geekie @nolan_yaro18 @mrasmussen16 pic.twitter.com/kKZFnuIEGq
— Alan Hoshida (@AHoshidaSports) April 7, 2018
The American had to be thrilled with their first game of the series, a resounding victory on the road. The line of Rasmussen, Geekie and Sasha Mutala looked formidable as the Royals were unable to deal with them for mush of the game. Goaltender Dea will look to build on the shutout, getting that monkey off his back of not playing well against Vitoria this season.
For Victoria, they must look for some positives out of Game 1 while resetting themselves quickly for Game 2. A loss in the playoffs is only one game, whether it is a 2-1 close fought battle or a 7-0 lop-sided affair. The season series between these two clubs saw alternating blowouts, so the Royals have to be hoping that continues into the this series.
Game 2 is Saturday night at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena with puck drop at 7:05pm.