With the Allen Americans desperately needing a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, the team got an outstanding performance from Jake Paterson, who stopped 32 shots to lead the Americans to a 4-1 win over the Wichita Thunder. The victory moved Allen just a single point behind the Thunder for third in the Mountain Division and gave the team sole possession of fourth place, two points ahead of the idle Tulsa Oilers.
The Wichita Thunder had peppered Allen Americans goalie Jake Paterson early on, outshooting the home team 11-3 through the first 13 minutes of the contest. However, Paterson had continued to make one great save after another, including a big moment about 12 minutes into the first, when he stopped two quick shots by Chad Butcher and Etienne Boutet seven seconds apart to keep the game scoreless.
However, at 13:22, the Thunder finally broke through. Ryan Van Stralen made a great play in the neutral zone, stealing the puck and heading into the Americans end on a breakaway. He moved to his backhand, and fired a shot over the blocker of Paterson and in for his sixth goal of the year.
Wichita was dominating the first period, but with the 38 seconds left in the opening frame, the Americans would tie the score. A bad bounce of the boards denied the Thunder the opportunity to clear the puck out of their own end. Alex Guptill gained control of the puck, passing it to Eric Roy at the point. He fired a wrist shot that hit off the far post and into the goal line for his 14th of the year.
Allen came out fired up to start the second period and that led to them taking the lead 2:10 into the frame. Bryan Moore moved down the slot with the puck and beat Starrett over the blocker for his 19th goal of the year. That made it 2-1 Americans.
Allen had dominated the second, outshooting Wichita 18-7 in the period, and came out in the third looking to take command of the game. That paid off at 3:11, when Jared Bethune stole the puck and made a great pass to Thomas Frazee, who buried the shot for his 14th goal of the year.
The Thunder had a number of golden opportunities to cut the deficit in half, but Paterson was absolutely stellar in net. At the 14:46 mark, he made a great save on Mark MacMillan. The rebound was kicked out to Jeremy Beaudry, who blasted a shot, but the Allen netminder made a great glove save.
With about two minutes left in the game Wichita pulled their goalie, but it would be Allen that would put this game away. With 56 seconds left, the Thunder were trying to hold the line so not as to go in offside. That allowed Zach Pochiro to make a great play to steal the puck and put it into the empty net for his 17th goal of the season. That made it 4-1, which would be the final.
Jake Paterson finished with 32 saves in the victory. He moved to 8-8-1 on the season. Zach Pochiro had a goal and an assist for Allen, and Jared Bethune had 2 assists for the victorious Americans.
The loss was the fifth in a row for the Wichita Thunder, who finally return home Friday following their eight game road trip (2-4-2). The Thunder will take on the Tulsa Oilers. Faceoff is at 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier