Tri-City Americans

Ams win 4-2, force Game 5 in Calgary (w/ gallery)

KENNEWICK — The Tri-City Americans aren't quite ready to go on vacation.

Alex Pechurskiy finished with 40 saves and Kruise Reddick scored what proved to be the game-winning goal 20 seconds into the third period as the Americans beat the Calgary Hitmen 4-2 on Wednesday night to stave off elimination in the Western Hockey League finals.

Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is Friday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. The Hitmen lead the series 3-1.

Only one team in the history of the WHL has ever won a series after trailing 3-0 -- the Spokane Chiefs against the Portland Winterhawks in 1996.

"From a fan's perspective, that was probably the most entertaining game of the series," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "A lot of people got to see what our goalie's like and see us score some goals. Obviously the key point in the game was getting the first goal. Good goaltending and timely goals, that's our recipe; that's how we win games."

Holding a 2-1 lead after two periods, Reddick scored on the power play to open the third period, taking a nice pass across the slot and beating Calgary goalie Martin Jones stick side.

Justin Feser added a goal on a breakaway at 15:29, taking a long pass up ice from Jordan Messier and putting the puck over Jones' shoulder.

Calgary countered with a goal by Giffen Nyren at 18:27 but could not get any closer despite pulling goalie Martin Jones with 2:19 left.

"I thought it was a good hockey game, entertaining end to end," said Calgary coach Mike Williamson. "Tri-City definitely worked hard. We had a lot of chances; we just need to bear down in front of the net. (Pechurskiy) played well. Both goalies played well and both teams had lots of chances."

With their season on the line, the Americans came out pressuring from the start, and their persistence paid off at 9:51 of the first as Jordan Messier scored his third goal of the playoffs.

Brendan Shinnimin had the puck to the right of the net and Zach Yuen called for the puck in the slot. Shinnimin fed the rookie defenseman and Messier redirected Yuen's shot in front of the net to give Tri-City its first lead in the series.

The Americans, who had only scored two goals through the first three games, took a 2-0 lead at 14:13 of the first.

Jarrett Toll's shot from the left point was turned away by Jones, but Mason Wilgosh was there for the rebound. Jones rejected Wilgosh's first shot, but his second effort found the net for his first goal of the playoffs.

"That's what the team's about, everyone's got to chip in," Wilgosh said. "The puck came up top and I went to the net hard and got the rebound. It's nice to have everyone contribute."

The Hitmen cut the Americans' lead in half two minutes later when Mackenzie Royer scored his first goal of the playoffs, picking up a rebound and finding an open net behind Pechurskiy.

The action was fast and furious in the second, and Calgary outshot the Americans 22-11. But neither team was able to find the net.

The Hitmen had a pair of 2-on-1 breakaways, but both times the puck was shot high over the net.

The Americans had a flurry of shots around the net on their only power late in the period, but between Jones and the Calgary defense, Tri-City was denied.

"(Pechurskiy) was excellent," Hiller said. "He made good saves when we need them. Calgary is a good team and we needed big saves and big goals. You can't have one without the other. It's been awhile since we had that combination working for us."

Jones finished with 26 saves for the Hitmen who had their seven-game win streak snapped.