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WHL: Giants hammer Cougars again, take 2-0 series lead

The Canadian Press

3/22/2009 2:50:58 AM

Try as they might, the Prince George Cougars could not contain the Western Hockey League's leading scorer.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored two goals and added an assist as the Vancouver Giants pounded the Prince George Cougars 9-1 on Saturday night in the second game of their opening-round playoff series.

The Giants took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven affair before a crowd of 8,418 at the Pacific Coliseum. Vancouver, which finished first in the Western Conference regular season, has outscored eighth-place Prince George 17-3 in the first two games.

Pierro-Zabotel, 20, has five points in two playoff games after winning the WHL's regular-season scoring title with 115 points (36 goals, 79 assists). He is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer unless the Pittsburgh Penguins, who made him their 2007 third-round choice, sign him before this year's NHL entry draft.

Last year, the Kamloops, B.C., native recorded six points in 10 playoff games for the Giants, who outshot the Cougars 47-29 on Saturday, including a 26-7 difference in the second period.

Elsewhere in the WHL, it was: Lethbridge 5, Saskatoon 2; Brandon 4, Kootenay 1; Seattle 2, Spokane 1; Everett 3, Tri-City 2; Medicine Hat 6, Swift Current 2; and Kelowna 5, Kamloops 1.

At Vancouver, the Giants led 2-0 after the first period on goals by Mike Piluso and Lance Bouma and never looked back. Piluso opened the scoring on a wraparound while the Giants were shorthanded 3:53 into the game. Bouma, who returned Friday from a hand injury that kept him out 27 games, scored what proved to be the winner as he gave the Giants a 2-0 lead at 15:46 of the first period.

In the second period, James Wright, Craig Cunningham, Brendan Gallagher, Pierro-Zabotel, Mikhail Fisenko and Garry Nunn scored to put the Giants ahead 8-0. Fisenko and Nunn's goals came 18 seconds apart, prompting Cougars coach Wade Klippenstein to pull starting goaltender Kevin Armstrong in favour of 16-year-old midget call-up Michael Salmon.

Pierro-Zabotel notched his second of the night at 2:09 of the third period before Tyler Halliday spoiled Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith's shutout bid on a power play with only 1:32 left in the game.

Hurricanes 5, Blades 2

At Saskatoon, Zach Boychuk scored a hat trick and added an assist to help Lethbridge even their best-of-seven series against the Blades.

Tied 1-1, the Eastern Conference quarter-final series shifts to Lethbridge, Alta., for game three on Tuesday.

Dwight King had a goal and an assist and Carter Ashton also scored for the Hurricanes. Milan Kytnar and Walker Wintoneak replied for Saskatoon.

Wheat Kings 4, Ice 1

At Brandon, Man., Andrew Clark and Matt Lowry scored a goal and an assist each as the Wheat Kings defeated Kootenay.

Aaron Lewadniuk and Scott Glennie, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Wheat Kings, who took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final. Colby Robak assisted on two Brandon goals.

Dominik Pacovsky replied for the Ice, who will host game three on Tuesday in Cranbrook, B.C.

Thunderbirds 2, Chiefs 1

At Spokane, Wash., Thomas Hickey and Sena Acolatse scored goals and Calvin Pickard stopped 33 shots as Seattle edged the Chiefs to even their quarter-final series at 1-1.

Drayson Bowman scored Spokane's lone goal and goalie Dustin Tokarski made 26 saves.

The series resumes Tuesday night at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.

Silvertips 3, Americans 2

At Kennewick, Wash., Tyler Maxwell had a hat trick and Thomas Heemskerk finished with 45 saves as Everett evened its first-round series against the Americans.

The hat trick was a WHL first for Maxwell, who had 22 goals during the regular season. Byron Froese and Graham Potuer each had two assists for the Silvertips.

Kruise Reddick and Jason Reese scored for the Americans, who got 18 saves from Chet Pickard. The series resumes Wednesday in Everett for game three.

Tigers 6, Broncos 2

At Swift Current, Sask., Brennan Bosch scored twice in under three minutes as Medicine Hat downed the Broncos to earn a split in the first two games of their quarter-final series, which now shifts to Medicine Hat, Alta., for games three and four.

Sean Ringrose opened the scoring and Tyler Ennis scored his team-leading third goal of the series for the Tigers. Wacey Hamilton and Matt McCue added power-play goals.

Swift Current replied with second period power-play goals from John Negrin and Taylor Vause.

Rockets 5, Blazers 1

At Kelowna, B.C., Ryley Grantham scored two goals and defenceman Brandon McMillan had two assists as the Rockets defeated Kamloops.

Ian Duval, Jamie Benn and Stepan Novotny also scored for Kelowna, which now leads the first-round series 2-0. The best-of-seven series resumes Tuesday and Wednesday in Kamloops with Games 3 and 4.

Kenton Dulle, with a shorthanded effort, replied for the Blazers, who haven't won a post-season series since 1998-99, including a 4-0 loss to Kelowna in 2002.