Petruzzelli Blanks Growlers in First Meeting with Thunder, 3-0
WICHITA, KS – It was the first ever contest between the Newfoundland Growlers and the Wichita Thunder and the Growlers proved to be extremely inhospitable guests, scoring three times in the first period on their way to a 3-0 victory over Wichita on Wednesday. Keith Petruzzelli recorded his first shutout of the season, stopping all 19 shots he faced. Three different players scored for Newfoundland.
The Growlers took command of this game from the start, scoring 21 seconds into the contest. Ben Finkelstein intercepted a pass at the blueline, then moved in, firing a wrist shot that beat Evan Buitenhuis for his third goal of the season.
Just after the six-minute mark, Todd Skirving added a short-handed goal to extend the lead to two. A bad giveaway in the neutral zone put the puck on the stick of Garrett Johnston. He passed it to Gordie Green, who entered the Thunder zone on a 2-on-1 break. When Green was about 10 feet from the net, he made a great cross crease pass to Skirving, who redirected the puck by Buitenhuis to make it 2-0. That was the sixth goal of the season by Skirving.
Newfoundland added one more goal before the first intermission. Jeremy McKenna entered the Thunder zone, then passed the puck to the boards to Orrin Centazzo. Centazzo moved off the boards, sliding across the slot before beating Buitenhuis low to the glove side for his 12th goal of the season.
The Growlers had a commanding 3-0 lead coming out of the first frame and continued to put the pressure on over each of the next two periods, putting 13 shots on Buitenhuis in each frame. However, the Wichita netminder played very well in the contest, stopping 39 of 42 shots.
However, Petruzzelli proved to be too tough on this night. He faced limited action in each period, facing seven shots in the first, eight in the second, and just four in the third. Wichita simply could not maintain puck possession inside the Newfoundland zone, which was not helped by six Growlers power-plays. The Thunder killed off all six.
Wichita (13-21-5) is off until Saturday night when they welcome when they welcome the Tulsa Oilers (20-14-1). The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier