Giants take semifinal lead

Tomas Vincour scored 3:49 into overtime as the Vancouver Giants beat the Tri-City Americans 3-2 in Western Hockey League playoff action Tuesday. The Giants lead the best-of-seven Western Conference final 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday in Vancouver.

Giants 3 Americans 2

VANCOUVER — Tomas Vincour scored 3:49 into overtime as the Vancouver Giants beat the Tri-City Americans 3-2 in Western Hockey League playoff action Tuesday.

The Giants lead the best-of-seven Western Conference final 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday in Vancouver.

Vincour scored his seventh goal of the post-season when it mattered most after he was robbed on a second-period breakaway.

James Wright added a goal and an assist on the winner while Neil Manning scored in regulation for the Giants. Mark Segal 33 saves as the Giants were outshot 35-27.

Vancouver went winless in four regular-season meetings with the Americans.

Brooks Macek and Jordan Messier replied for Tri-City while Justin Feser recorded two assists for the Americans who topped the Western Conference regular season standings, nine points ahead of Vancouver.

The Giants led 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 after a second period in which they were outshot 15-6, but the Americans rallied despite playing most of the game without one of their top post-season scorers.

After being blanked in Game 2, the Giants got on the scoreboard early. Wright, who spent most of this season with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, opened the scoring as he lofted a harmless-looking wrist shot from just inside the blue-line that Tri-City goaltender Drew Owsley misplayed.

Manning put the Giants ahead 2-0 on a power play just under seven minutes later. Pinching in from his defence post, he easily put in Brendan Gallagher’s rebound while standing alone in front of the Tri-City net.

The Americans lost Sergei Drozd, their third-leading scorer, at 5:55 of the second as he took a major and game misconduct for checking James Henry from behind.

Henry suffered facial cuts, went to the dressing room for repairs and returned wearing a full face shield.

During the five-minute power play, the Giants kept the puck in Tri-City’s end most of the time, but could not get shots through to the net — until Gallagher hit the crossbar just as the major expired. Moments later, Owsley robbed Vincour on a breakaway.

Macek reduced Tri-City’s deficit to 2-1 on a power play at 14:50 of the second as he poked in the puck after his shot rolled under Segal and slowly trickled over the goal-line.

Tri-City tied the game on a third-period power play. Under intense pressure right in front of his net, Craig Cunningham inadvertently cleared the puck over the glass. A minute 14 seconds later, Messier put in Feser’s rebound for a 2-2 tie.

Hitmen 6 Wheat Kings 3

BRANDON, Man. — The Calgary Hitmen scored four times in the first period on their way to a 6-3 Western Hockey League playoff victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday night.

Cody Sylvester, Michael Stone, Joel Broda and Matt MacKenzie all scored in the first period for the Hitmen, who took a 4-0 lead into the intermission despite being outshot 21-10 at the time.

Tyler Fiddler added two third-period goals as the Hitmen took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, with Game 4 set for tonight in Brandon.

Matt Calvert very nearly brought the Wheat Kings back from their first-period deficit, scoring three straight short-handed goals during a span of six minutes 45 seconds in the second period to narrow Calgary’s lead to 4-3.

Calgary netminder Martin Jones made 40 saves, while Jacob DeSerres stopped 17 shots for Brandon.