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Vincour scores winner as Giants take 2-1 lead over Americans

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VANCOUVER, B.C. - Tomas Vincour made the most of his second chance.

After being thwarted on a second-period breakaway, 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, who recovered after blowing a 2-0 cushion, lead the best-of-seven Western Conference final 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday in Vancouver.

"I couldn't be happier right now," said Vincour after scoring his seventh goal of the post-season.

He beat Tri-City goaltender Drew Owsley from a sharp angle following a faceoff in the Americans' zone.

"I turned towards the net and I saw the defenceman played (Giants captain) Lance Bouma at the net so I decided to shoot the puck," said Vincour, who was acquired from Edmonton around the WHL trading deadline. "It's a huge shot. Thank God it went in."

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.

"It's always hard giving up two goals," said Wright. "Obviously, there was some doubt in our dressing room - but right now it feels pretty good."

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.

"I thought we played a little hesitant in the first period and then, for the last 40 some-odd minutes, I thought we played really well," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "I thought we competed hard. We didn't get the result that I think we deserved."

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 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.

"We just have to regroup and play like we did after the first period," said Hiller.

NOTES-If the Brandon Wheat Kings reach the WHL finals, the winner of this series will automatically qualify for the Memorial Cup. The Wheat Kings, who are playing the Calgary Hitmen in the Eastern Conference title series, have qualified automatically for the Memorial Cup as the host club ... Vancouver played without high-scoring winger J.T. Barnett, who has been out with an undisclosed injury since the third game of the second round against Portland.

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