The Wichita Thunder entered Sunday’s contest in the throes of a five game winless streak (0-2-3), hoping that the Allen American would be the remedy to their early season slump. The Thunder had already beaten Allen twice this season and four times the Thunder battled back from a goal down to tie the score. That sent the game to extra time where the Wichita Thunder would prevail in the shootout, ending the winless drought.
Opponents jumping out in front early has been an issue for the Wichita Thunder of late and that proved to be the case in this contest as well. At the 4:35 mark, Adam Miller passed the puck to Dante Salituro, who beat Stuart Skinner up high for his fifth goal of the year.
The lead for Allen did not last long however. Almost exactly two minutes later, Jared Wilson passed the puck ahead to Mitch Maloney, who carried the puck across the blueline and into the Americans end. He moved about eight feet into the zone, then fired a rising wrist shot that beat C.J. Motte for his first goal of the year. That tied the score at one.
Just before the 10 minute mark, the Allen Americans would retake the lead thanks to a bad break for the Thunder. Christophe Lalancette moved in toward the Wichita net, firing a shot that deflected off the skate of a Thunder defenseman and right to Pavel Jenys, who fired it in for his second goal of the year.
The Americans remained on top until Zach Todd tied the scored with 67 seconds left in the first period. Nolan Vesey fired a shot from the left point that wrapped around the boards to Todd on the other side of the blueline. He blasted a slapshot that beat Motte on the short side for his second goal of the year.
The score remained tied until the Thunder’s Hayden Hodgson received a major penalty for cross-checking at 9:50 of the second period. The Thunder were able to fight off nearly four minutes of that power-play but, at 13:25, the Americans would finally score. Alex Breton passed to Spencer Asuchak, who was right in front of the net. His shot was saved by Skinner, but came right back to Breton, who passed it across the crease to Alexandre Ranger. Ranger redirected the puck past Skinner for his first goal of the season.
The game headed to the third period where an early power-play opportunity would allow the Thunder to tie the score. At 1:36, Travis Brown fired a shot from the point that Stephen Iacobellis put in for his third goal of the year, tying the score at three.
The Americans would retake the lead for good with 4:02 left in the contest. A double minor against Travis Brown gave Allen a four minute power-play. Wichita killed off over three and a half minutes before Thomas Frazee would give the Americans the lead for good. Salituro’s shot was saved by Skinner, but the loose puck was picked up by Frazee, who put it in for his second goal of the year.
The Thunder were running out of time when Brown tied the score with 1:15 left in the game. Ralph Cuddemi passed the puck back to Brown at the right point, who blasted a shot by Motte for his third goal of the year.
With the score tied at four, the game went to overtime where each team had three golden opportunities to end this game, but both goaltenders kept it tied. Still tied after the extra frame, the game went to a shootout. Skinner stopped the first two shots he faced before Greg Chase gave Wichita the lead with a wrist shot over the blocker of Motte. Skinner then stopped the Americans final chance to give the Wichita Thunder the 5-4 victory.
Nine different players had a point for the Wichita Thunder. Dante Salituro had a goal and an assist and Alex Breton had two assists for the Allen Americans.
The Wichita Thunder head to the road for a late morning game on Tuesday against the Kansas City Mavericks. Faceoff is at 10:30.
By Robert Pannier