Americans not dead yet

The Tri-City Americans took their first small step towards an improbable comeback.

Americans 4 Hitmen 2

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Tri-City Americans took their first small step towards an improbable comeback.

Alex Pechurskiy made 40 saves and Kruise Reddick scored 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 final. Game 5 of the best-of-seven 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.

Holding a 2-1 lead after two periods, Reddick scored on the power play to open the third period, and Justin Feser added a goal on a breakaway at 15:29. Calgary countered with a goal by Giffen Nyren at 18:27, but could get not closer.

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 Zach Yuen scored his second goal of the playoffs.

Brendan Shinnimin had the puck to the right of the net and Yuen called for it in the slot. Shinnimin fed the rookie defenceman and Yuen beat Martin Jones at the right post 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 stopped Wilgosh’s first shot, but his second effort found the net for his first goal of the playoffs.

The Hitmen cut the Americans’ lead in half two minutes later as 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.

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

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