Early on this season, the Wichita Thunder were dominating the ECHL thanks to outstanding goaltending that had them as the league leaders. However, the team gave up seven goals to the Kansas City Mavericks just before Christmas and gave up an equal amount coming out of the break, as Thunder would fall to the archrival Allen Americans 7-3. Olivier Archambault had a goal and added 3 assists and David Makowski had 3 assists for Allen. For the second straight game, goaltender Shane Starrett was pulled early.
Allen looked like they would get the lead a little over seven minutes into the contest, when Joel Chouinard fired a shot that beat Thunder goalie Shane Starrett, but the puck hit the post and bounced in front of the net where Starrett pounced on it to keep the game tied.
However, Zach Hall would stake the Americans to a 1-0 lead. At the 9:01 mark, Alex Schoenborn fired a shot that was saved by Starrett, but the rebound was right along the goal line and Hall tucked it in for his first goal of the season.
A little less than two minutes later, the Americans extended their lead to two. David Makowski’s shot was saved by the Thunder goalie, but the rebound was loose in front of the Wichita net. Matthieu Aubin put the loose puck into the net, his sixth of the season, to make it 2-0.
The lead became three thanks to a booming shot with 2:14 left in the first. Chouinard had been denied earlier, and this time his shot led to a goal. Chouinard fired a slapshot that Casey Pierro-Zabotel tipped past Starrett for his ninth goal of the season.
Joel Rumpel took over in net for Wichita following the first period, but it did not seem to make much difference early on. It would take less than three minutes into the second for the lead to become four when Colby McAuley netted his fifth goal of the season.
The Wichita Thunder were finally able to get a goal past Allen netminder Jeremy Brodeur at the 11:44 mark of the second period. Guillaume Lepine fired a shot that Brodeur saved, but the rebound was loose in front of the net and Evan Polei gained control and put the puck in the net for his fourth goal of the season.
It took only 86 seconds before the Thunder were back on the board. Ralph Cuddemi lost control of the puck in the Allen end, but stole it back, passing it to Jeremy Beaudry, who fired a shot that was saved. Kevin Dufour, who had been acquired by Wichita earlier in the day, gained control and went to the backhand where he put the puck in for his fifth goal of the season and first in a Wichita uniform.
It was a two goal game but it did not stay that way for long. Just 39 seconds after the Dufour goal, Olivier Archambault skated past a Wichita defender and beat Rumpel for his fifth goal of the season. That made it 5-2.
The Thunder came out in the third determined to get back in this game, and Polei lit the lamp at the 1:16 point in the third. With Wichita on the power-play, the attempt to clear the puck out of the Allen end was errant, and Beaudry was able to gain control. He passed the puck to Travis Brown who fired the shot that Polei tipped in for the first multiple goal game of his professional career.
Allen would use the power-play to restore their three goal advantage. Following a Dyson Stevenson hooking penalty, the Americans would score nine seconds into the man advantage. After winning the faceoff in the Wichita end, Archambault held onto the puck looking for the open man and found Eric Roy at the right circle, who blasted a one timer that Rumpel had no chance on. The seventh goal of the season for Roy made the score 6-3.
The Americans were back on the board at the 11:00 mark. Rumpel appeared to be tripped as the Americans forward went by the net. With the Thunder goalie down, Pierre-Zabotel put the puck in the empty net for his 10th goal of the season to make it 7-3.
The seven goals allowed tied a season high for the Wichita Thunder. Evan Polei had 2 goals for the Thunder, and Jeremy Beaudry added 2 assists. Olivier Archambault had a goal and 3 assists for the Americans. David Makowski added 3 assists and Casey Pierro-Zabotel had 2 goals.
The two teams now shift to Wichita where they will play on Friday and Saturday nights at Intrust Bank Arena. Game time for Friday is 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
Ry Robert Pannier