KENNEWICK, Wash. - Having nine days off did little to help the Tri-City Ameicans.
Ian McKenzie scored three times and Riku Helenius made 29 saves as the Seattle Thunderbirds embarrassed the rusty Americans 7-1 to open their WHL Western Conference semifinal Friday night The game was a rare black mark for the U.S. Division-champion Americans, who had won nine straight and swept Kamloops in the first round of the playoffs.
"That wasn't our best game and they were terrific tonight," said Tri-City coach Don Nachbaur, whose team lost to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs last year and in 2005. "They were way sharper mentally and we made some blatant errors with the puck that cost us."
Scott Jackson added a pair of goals for the Thunderbirds, while Bud Holloway and Lindsay Nielsen had singles.
T.J. fast had the lone goal for the Americans, who host Game 2 Saturday.
Chet Pickard had 22 saves before being pulled early in the third period. Backup Kyle Birch stopped three of the four shots he faced.