Americans Rally Late to Down Thunder, 3-2
WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder dominated most of Saturday night’s contest, taking a 2-1 lead into the final five minutes, but the Allen Americans scored twice in the span of 61 seconds to earn a 3-2 victory. Allen scored three unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0. Evan Buitenhuis played very well for Wichita, but was let down by some defensive lapses. The loss was the third in a row at home for Wichita.
The Thunder jumped out in front 1:17 into the contest. Mark Liwiski went behind the Americans goal looking for the wraparound, but went across the net instead, finding Jake Wahlin who knocked the puck in for his eighth goal of the season.
Wichita had totally dominated this first period, outshooting Allen 17-8 and were giving the Americans no good scoring opportunities. That continued into the early part of the second as the Thunder extended their lead to two, scoring a power-play goal at 9:17. Dylan MacPherson took a pass at the blueline, lifting a laser wrist shot that found the upper corner over the shoulder of Luke Peressini for his sixth goal of the year.
The Thunder were in complete command of this game, but a bad turnover at the blueline sent Hank Crone in on Buitenhuis. As he went past the left faceoff circle, Crone passed the puck back to Jack Combs, who buried a one-timer for his 20th goal of the year.
Buitenhuis was making the one-goal lead stand, producing several great saves including at the nine-minute mark of the third. With Wichita on the power-play, another bad turnover at the Allen blueline sent Xavier Bernard and Liam Finlay on a 2-on-0 breakaway. The duo moved the puck back and forth before Bernard went across the crease to Finlay, but Buitenhuis absolutely stoned his wrist shot, making a spectacular glove save to preserve the one-goal advantage.
Turnovers proved to be the undoing of the Thunder and that was the case at 15:10 when Grant Herbert intercepted a clearing attempt, moving in on the Wichita netminder before passing the puck across to Chad Butcher. He redirected the puck past Buitenhuis to tie the score at two.
At 16:11, the Americans took their first lead of the contest. The team moved in on a 3-on-1 before Jack Combs fed the puck to Finlay at the far post. He lifted a wrist shot over the glove of the Wichita netminder for his 12th goal of the year. That made it 3-2, which would be the final.
Buitenhuis made 31 saves. Peressini stopped 33 shots. Combs had a goal and an assist.
The Wichita Thunder (20-12-3) remain at home, welcoming the Tulsa Oilers (10-14-7) on Sunday. The puck drops at 4:05.
By Robert Pannier