Zach Pochiro Nets Four to Send Thunder to Sixth Straight Loss
After dropping the first four games of their five game road trip, the Wichita Thunder were hoping that a trip to Texas to face the Allen Americans would be the remedy to end their five-game skid. However, Zach Pochiro would score four goals as the Americans dominated Wichita, 7-3. The loss kept the Thunder in fifth in the Mountain Division with 38 points (15-5-5-3).
It took less than two minutes into the contest for the Allen Americans to jump on top. With Wichita short-handed, Joel Chouinard’s shot from the point was stopped by Stuart Skinner, but the rebound came right to Zach Pochiro at the side in the net, who banged it in his 18th goal of the season.
With four minutes left in the first, Skinner would absolutely rob Pochiro of his second goal of the game. The pass came to Pochiro as he was sweeping across the Thunder goal. Skinner was moving the other direction, but was somehow able to contort himself enough to block what looked like an easy goal for the Americans forward.
The Americans hung onto a one goal lead through the first period, but with eight seconds left in the frame they would extend their lead to two. A great pass by David Makowski from out of his own end caught Riley Bourbonnais just as he entered into the Wichita end. The Allen forward split two defenders, heading in on Skinner before beating him between the legs for his seventh goal of the year.
The Allen Americans would continue to pressure Wichita in the second period. At the 2:25 mark, Adam Miller swept into the Thunder end. He then passed the puck back to Pochiro who wristed a shot past the Thunder goalie for his second goal of the game. That would be it for Skinner.
The Thunder were on the verge of being blown out, but back-to-back goals helped to get them back into the contest. Just before the 10 minute mark, Pierre-Cedric Labrie was able to gain control of the puck along the boards in the Allen zone. He made a great pass to Jakob Stukel in front of the Americans net, who tucked the puck under goaltender C.J. Motte for his eighth goal of the year.
Five minutes later it would be all-star Stephen Iacobellis who would light the lamp. Stukel’s shot was saved by Motte, but Iacobellis was on the doorstep, shoveling the puck in for his 12th goal of the year. That cut the Americans lead to 3-2.
Wichita had the momentum going their way, but Allen would extend their lead back to two with a little less than three minutes left in the second. The Americans would receive a penalty shot. Pochiro came down the right side, closing in on Matt Hewitt. As he came within four feet of the Thunder goalie, Pochiro made a nice hesitation move, then went to his left, sliding the puck past the goalie for the hat trick.
The Americans would dominate the third period, outshooting Wichita 18-7 and that showed on the scoreboard. At the 8:15 mark of the third and with the Americans short-handed, the puck was cleared by Allen into the Thunder zone. Hewitt pushed it toward the boards, but Bourbonnais was able to outrace the Wichita player to the puck. He then made a great pass across to Dante Salituro in front of the net, who did a little spin-o-rama before banging the puck past Hewitt for his seventh goal of the year.
A little over three minutes later, Pochiro would find the back of the net once again. The Allen forward would pick the pocket of the Thunder defender, then swoop in on Hewitt. His shot was saved, and he was able to bang the rebound on the Wichita goalie, who made the save again. However, the puck came behind the net to Pochiro, who shot it out front and off a Thunder player, deflecting into the net for his fourth goal of the game and 21st of the season.
The Thunder would add one more goal at 14:53 of the third. Jeremy Beaudry’s shot was stopped, but Cam Reid was able to gain control of the puck, beating Motte for his fifth of the year.
Less than a minute later, the Allen Americans would close out the scoring. Salituro’s shot was blocked, deflecting the puck into the corner. He would regain control, passing it to the faceoff circle to former Thunder forward Mitch Maloney, who blasted the one-timer in for his third goal of the year. That made it 7-3.
Riley Bourbonnais and Dante Salituro each had a goal and an assist for the Allen Americans. Zach Pochiro finished with four goals, giving him a single season high of 21. C.J. Motte stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Pierre-Cedric Labrie had two assists and Jakob Stukel had a goal and assist for the Thunder.
The Wichita Thunder return home on Saturday night to take on the Americans looking to snap their six game skid (0-4-2). The puck drops at 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier