Hitmen one win from WHL title

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Martin Jones should have no trouble crossing the border.

Getting back into the U.S. might not be as easy.

The Americans never want to see the Calgary Hitmen goaltender again.

At least, the Tri-City Americans don't.

Jones kicked out 29 shots as the Hitmen took a 3-0 lead in the WHL Championship with a 4-1 victory Tuesday night in Kennewick, Wash.

Kris Foucault, Michael Stone, Cody Sylvester and Ian Schultz scored for the Hitmen, who could lock up the second WHL title in franchise history in Wednesday's Game 4 (8 p.m., Shaw TV, Fan 960).

Trailing 3-0 and with their season on the line, the Americans wasted a glorious opportunity to get back in the game early in the third period.

The Hitmen were down two men for 1:04 but Stone blocked three shots on the penalty kill, leaving the Americans 0-for-17 with the man advantage in the series.

The Hitmen ran their streak of successful penalty-kills to 32 in a row before Kruise Reddick scored a late powerplay marker to make it 3-1.

Schultz rounded out the scoring with a shorthanded empty-netter.

Jones held the fort early as the Americans came out desperate to get back in the series.

But after withstanding the early push by the Americans, the Hitmen took over late in the period.

Jimmy Bubnick got the visitors started when he turned Tri-City defender Brock Sutherland inside out and then hit Foucault at the far post for the game's first goal.

The Hitmen powerplay, which was blanked in Game 2, got back on track south of the border.

Stone's snapshot from the point handcuffed Alexander Pechurskiy, who was making his first start of the post-season, and trickled into the net.

Less than a minute later, Sylvester gave Calgary a 3-0 lead as he slid a weak backhander through the Russian's pads with 22.5 seconds on the clock.

It was Sylvester's 10th goal of the playoffs, matching his total from the regular season.

Neither team found the back of the net in the scoreless middle frame, but there were a handful of close calls.

Brendan Shinnimin, who leads the Americans in scoring -- both in the regular season and in the playoffs -- nearly picked up his first point of the series.

Jones was out of position after making a stop during a Tri-city powerplay and Shinnimin looked to have the entire net to shoot at but ended up clanking it off the iron.

The Hitmen thought they had a fourth goal in the final minute of the period, when a number of players jammed away at a loose puck in the crease.

But, after video review, it was ruled Pechurskiy had the puck covered prior to being pushed into the net.

The Hitmen owned a 26-22 advantage on the shot clock through 40 minutes.


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