CALGARY - Joel Broda's big shot and steady goaltending from Martin Jones have moved the Calgary Hitmen within two wins of the Western Hockey League title.
Defenceman Giffen Nyren set up Broda at 10:11 of the opening period and Jones made 20 saves as the Hitmen cruised to a 4-1 win Saturday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven WHL final.
"It was huge," said Nyren, who picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and entered into Tri-City territory on a two-on-one with Broda. "I turned around and Broda was in the slot. There's no other guy I'd rather put the puck on his stick than that guy. His shot is phenomenal."
Peter Kosterman and Del Cowan then scored goals 73 seconds apart in the second period while Tyler Fiddler added an insurance goal in the third period.
Jones took over from there and improved his post-season record to 14-6.
"Jonesy held us in there," said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson. "We got some timely goals and some big saves by him. I think we played well in stretches and better as the game went on."
Johnny Lazo scored the lone goal of the game for the Americans, who will host the third and fourth games of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash.
"We usually start quick and score the first goal and that, obviously, hasn't been the case here two nights in a row," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "We have a breakdown and again a key goal by them on a turnover. I thought up until that point we were playing pretty well (but) we kind of shot ourselves in the foot and got the building into the game and us on our heels."
Tri-City goalie Drew Owsley stopped 12 of 15 shots before being replaced in net by Alexander Pechurskiy, who made 22 saves in a relief appearance.
With the Hitmen up 1-0 in the second period, Kosterman fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle past Owsley for his first career WHL goal. Cowan then tipped a Michael Stone point blast past Owsley to put the Hitmen up 3-0.
For the second straight game, Hiller opted to replace Owsley in net with Pechurskiy, a fifth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008.
The Americans finally scored their first goal of the series at 4:44 of the second period when Lazo roofed a shot over the outstretched glove hand of Jones. Up to that point, Jones had a blanked the Americans for 146 minutes 37 seconds dating back to 2008.
"I found some time in the slot and just kind of faked and put it upstairs," said Lazo, while commending Jones for backstopping the Hitmen to two straight victories. "He's got the good size; he's quick. He was on Team Canada for a reason. He's a phenomenal goaltender. We've just got to get more pucks on net and more traffic than we have been."
After Pechurskiy made a nice stop on a close-in shot by Kozun late in the third period, Fiddler followed up on the play to knock in the rebound to the delight of the 10,049 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.