Americans Win Fight Marred Game in Shootout, 3-2
The Allen Americans defeated the Wichita Thunder on Friday evening in dramatic fashion, winning in the eighth round of a shootout, 3-2. Zane Franklin scored the only goal of the shootout, ruining a spectacular night by Thunder goaltender Evan Buitenhuis, who stopped 35 of 37 shots. Dean Stewart added to assist for Wichita in a losing effort. The loss dropped the Thunder out of the top spot in the Western Conference.
It did not take long for the Americans and Thunder to renew their animosity for one another, as a series of fights broke out just 28 seconds into Friday night’s contest. That set the tone for 58 total penalty minutes between the teams, a season-high for a game for Wichita this year.
The altercation began when Thunder defenseman Sean Allen retaliated for a non-boarding call on Spencer Asuchak. That started three separate fights, which eventually led to Wichita Captain Ryan White being ejected for starting the secondary altercation.
Wichita was assessed two additional minor penalties from the early fights, putting Allen on a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity. The Thunder were spectacular, allowing the Americans no opportunity to set up any kind of sustained pressure inside the Wichita zone.
About four minutes after killing off the two men advantage, Wichita took the lead. With the Thunder on the power-play, Stewart made a beautiful pass through the neutral zone right onto the stick of Beau Starrett just before he crossed into the Allen end. Starrett moved in on Allen goaltender Jake Paterson before firing a shot over the shoulder of the Americans goaltender for his 11th goal of the season.
Allen responded at the 13:50 mark of the first period, scoring a power-play goal of their own. The Americans won the draw inside the Wichita zone, moving the puck back to Chad Butcher. He fed the puck across the blue line to Matt Register, who fired a blast from the point that deflected off the skate of Asuchak and in for his 15th goal of the year.
The Americans outshot the Thunder 9-7 in the first, but dominated the second period, outshooting Wichita 16-7. That enabled them to take a 2-1 lead on Asuchak’s second goal of the game. Steven Owre moved across the Wichita blueline before heading down the side near the boards looking like he was going to swoop behind the Thunder net. Instead, just after reaching the goal line, he fed the puck across the slot to Asuchak, who blasted the one-timer by Buitenhuis to put the Americans on top.
The one goal lead held into the third, but Anthony Beauregard tied the score with a little over 10 minutes left in the game. Stewart carried the puck inside the Allen zone and looked like he had been trapped, but he found an opening, passing the puck across the blueline to Jay Dickman, who fired a shot that Paterson saved. However, the puck came right to Beauregard who knocked it in for his team-leading 21st goal of the year.
Both teams had several opportunities to take the lead and win it in overtime, but both Buitenhuis and Paterson made a number of great saves to send this contest to a shootout. There, the two goaltenders dominated once again, keeping the shootout scoreless through the first seven rounds. Eventually, Franklin would win it, making a nice move to slow himself down before firing a shot over the shoulder of the Wichita goaltender to give Allen a 3-2 victory.
This contest saw six fighting majors assessed and 16 total penalties called against the two teams. Wichita received 35 minutes and penalties well Allen received 23. The 58 total minutes between the teams was a season-high for the Wichita Thunder this year.
These teams will go at it again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier