After splitting the first two regular season games between the Allen Americans and the Wichita Wingnuts in Kansas, the two bitter rivals traveled to Texas on Saturday for the Americans’ home opener. Thanks to two goals by Dyson Stevenson and a pair of goals by the Thunder in the first and second periods, Wichita handily won this contest, 4-1, moving to 3-1-0 on the season. Stuart Skinner earned his third victory of the season between the pipes for Wichita.
The Wichita Thunder would take the lead 4:54 into the contest. While short-handed, Jared Wilson knocked the puck to center where Dyson Stevenson had snuck behind the defenseman and was headed toward the Allen end on a breakaway. As the penalty expired, he made a move that got Americans goalie C.J. Motte down on the ice, then tucked the puck inside the pipe for his third goal of the year.
A little over five minutes later it would be Stevenson again. Steven Iacobellis entered the Allen zone on a 2-on-1, then made a nice feed across to Stevenson, who buried the one-timer for his second goal of the game. That gave the team’s captain back-to-back two goal nights.
About halfway through the second, the Wichita Thunder extended their lead to three. Lane Bauer passed the puck back to Jeremy Beaudry after entering the Allen end. Beaudry passed the puck across to Iacobellis, who fired a wrist shot up high that beat Motte for his first goal of the season.
Allen would finally get on the board at 12:28 of the second. During a 4-on-4, Dante Salituro passed back to Alex Breton who fired a blast that beat Skinner, cutting the Thunder lead back to two.
However, about five minutes later, Wichita would be back on top by three. With the Thunder on the power-play, Jakob Strukel took control of the puck in the Allen end and then bull-rushed his way toward the net. He beat Motte for his second goal of the year and it was 4-1 Wichita.
In the third, the Thunder clamped down on the Americans. The shots were 30-21 in favor of Wichita through two, but Allen could only muster seven shots on Skinner in the final frame, as the Thunder netminder finished with 27 saves.
The victory was the first for the Wichita Thunder in regulation this season. They had won their previous two games in a shootout, including Friday night against Allen. Dyson Stevenson finished with 2 goals and Steven Iacobellis had a goal and an assist. Jared Wilson had 2 assists.
The Wichita Thunder are off until next week Saturday when they will travel to Tulsa to take on the Oilers. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier