Americans Roll Past Thunder in Allen
ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans scored four unanswered goals to start Friday night’s contest on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder. Special teams were pivotal in this contest as the Thunder scored all their goals on the power-play and Allen had two power-play goals and a short-handed tally. Michal Stinil and Brayden Watts each had two assists for Wichita. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Thunder.
The Americans scored two goals in the first to enter the first intermission with a two-goal edge. Jackson Leppard made it 1-0 3:48 into the contest. Zach Pochiro took a shot that Zachary Émond saved, but Leppard put the rebound in for his second goal of the season.
With one minute left in the first period, Jack Combs netted his 16th goal of the season. Ryan Gagnon made a pass to Combs in the crease, who corralled the puck on his stick before putting a backhander past Émond to make it 2-0.
In the second, the Americans extended the lead to four less than six minutes into the frame. At 1:44, with Wichita on the power-play, Chad Butcher stole the puck in the neutral zone, quickly moving it ahead to Colton Hargrove to create a 2-on-1 break. Hargrove fed the puck to Gagnon who put the puck in for his third goal of the year.
A little over three minutes later, Aidan Brown extended the lead to four. Brown took a shot from the slot that hit off a stick, deflected into the air and over Émond for his 10th of the year. The power-play goal made it 4-0.
The Thunder were being absolutely dominated, recording just six shots in the second period while Allen had 16. However, Wichita finally broke through at 15:44, scoring a power-play goal to make it 4-1. Timur Ibragimov fed the puck to Sam Sterschein at the right faceoff circle, who blew a shot by Kevin Mandolese for his first goal of the season.
The Thunder cut the deficit to two 1:17 into the third, scoring their second power-play goal of the game. With Wichita on a 5-on-3, Billy Constantinou moved down the boards along the left wing, shifted toward the faceoff circle, then beat Mandolese with a tough angle shot for his second goals in as many games.
Hank Crone extended the lead back to three at 15:09, netting the second power-play goal of the game for the Americans. Crone had the puck along the goal line, moving toward the net before stepping out in front and firing a wrist shot that beat Émond for his 14th goal of the year.
The Thunder were down by three again, but were able to cut the deficit to two when Jay Dickman netted a power-play goal with 2:24 left in the contest. Watts fed the puck to Dickman, who put home his sixth goal of the season. That made it 5-3, which would be the final.
Wichita now has nine power-play goals in their last three games. The team was 3-10 with the man-advantage.
Combs had a goal and two assists for Allen. Crone and Gagnon each had a goal and an assist.
The Wichita Thunder (17-10-2) will square off against the Americans (9-16-1) on Saturday. The puck drops at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier