Tri-City Americans

Owsley, Ams blank Rockets for 2-1 series lead

KELOWNA, British Columbia -- Before March 19, Drew Owsley had never played in a Western Hockey League playoff game.

Tuesday night, the Tri-City goaltender looked like a season veteran, recording 31 saves for his first career playoff shutout in leading the Americans to a 2-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets before a relatively quiet crowd of 5,231 at Prospera Place.

"It's pretty cool," said Owsley, who had four shutouts during the regular season. "Another notch in my belt. The team played really well in front of me. I knew they would come hard to the net and I had to control my rebounds. They had no second chances."

With the win, the Americans take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is tonight at Prospera Place, while Game 5 will be Friday at Toyota Center.

"I thought both teams were a little flat," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "Not a lot of scoring chances. I thought in the third they made a push. Our PK (penalty killing) had to be good, and Drew had to be good. I liked our game."

Trailing 2-0 entering the third, the Rockets peppered Owsley with 13 shots in the period and had three power plays, but had nothing to show for it in the end.

Kelowna, which tried to pull goalie Mark Guggenberger several times in the last three minutes of the game, finally got him to the bench with 44 seconds remaining, but still were unable to capitalize with an extra attacker.

"They played a good game and did a good job on the road," said Rockets coach Ryan Huska of the Americans. "Owsley made the first saves and we didn't have second chances. We didn't have the emotion or passion to win a game. We are not happy. We have to respond (tonight). We've responded before, I'm sure we can do it again."

The Americans, who had just five shots on goal in the third, did all the damage they needed to in the first two periods.

Johnny Lazo, who had just one goal in the Chilliwack series, scored his second against the Rockets, taking a pass from Brendan Shinnimin at the right post for an easy backdoor goal at 15:51 of the second for a 2-0 Tri-City lead.

"Another gift from Shinny," Lazo said. "He makes it too easy for me."

The Americans had plenty of chances to build on their lead in the second, but Adam Hughesman rang a shot off the cross bar and Brooks Macek clanked one off the post.

The Rockets had 18 shots through two periods, but only a couple of good chances as Owsley has kept the rebounds out of harm's way.

"Our defense did a great job in our zone, keeping it to the outside and limiting their chances," Lazo said.

Sergei Drozd scored his third goal against Kelowna in the series at 15:04 of the first, following up a shot by Kruise Reddick. Guggenberger stopped Reddick, but not Drozd, who scored his fifth of the playoffs.

"Mark was one a of a few guys in our lineup who did a good job," said Huska of Guggenberger, who finished with 22 saves.

NOTES: Owsley is 6-3 in the playoffs with a 2.19 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. ... The Americans killed off four Kelowna power plays, improving their penalty kill from 69.6 percent to 74.1 percent. ... Tuesday was the first time the Rockets had been shut out in the playoffs at home this year. ... In the only other WHL playoff game Tuesday, Medicine Hat beat Calgary 4-3 in overtime. The Hitmen lead the series 2-1.