Asuchak, Americans Complete Weekend Sweep of Thunder, 4-3
Spencer Asuchak scored a power-play goal 2:13 in overtime to help the Allen Americans complete a three-game, weekend sweep of the Wichita Thunder on Sunday. The power-play goal was the second of the game for Asuchak who scored four goals and added an assist in the weekend series. Three times Wichita battled back from single goal deficits in this contest. Dean Stewart had two assists to extend his point streak to 10 straight games.
The Thunder were looking to take command of this game early, but it would be Allen who would jump out in front 1:11 into the contest. Collin Shirley stole the puck along the half boards in the Wichita zone, then moved in on the Thunder goalie Hayden Lavigne. It looked like he may try to move behind the net, but opted to fire a backhander that beat Lavigne over the shoulder for his first goal of the season.
The Americans held onto the one goal lead until 12:40 when Anthony Beauregard tied the game, collecting his 22nd goal of the season. With Wichita on the power-play, Stewart moved in to just above the right face-off circle before firing a shot that Allen goaltender Jake Paterson saved. Jay Dickman battled to try to put the rebound in, but the puck eventually came loose to the opposite side of the goal where Beauregard drilled it in.
The Thunder euphoria was short-lived, as Asuchak restored the one goal lead with a power-play goal a little over two minutes later. Les Lancaster passed the puck from the point to Brett Neumann at the left face-off circle. Neumann blasted a one-timer that Lavigne saved, but Asuchak put the rebound in for his 17th goal of the season.
Wichita trailed by one entering the second period, but put the pressure on, outshooting the Americans 16-3 in the middle period. That allowed them to tie the score on Dickman’s 15th goal of the year. Charlie Combs gained control of the puck along the boards, passing it to Beauregard near the right face-off circle. He found Dickman at the back door, as the big forward simply redirected the puck past Paterson to tie the game at two.
Each team would add a power-play goal in the third period. Allen had the man advantage at 9:40 when Matt Register moved down toward the right face-off circle, then fed the puck across to the opposite circle to Lancaster, who blasted the one-timer just inside the right post for his 17th goal of the year.
Wichita responded almost exactly 4 minutes later. Beau Starrett moved the puck back to Stewart at the point, who then fed it across the line to Matteo Gennaro. Gennaro moved into the high slot, then fired a shot that beat Paterson to the far post for his 21st goal of the year.
The game remained tied at three, forcing overtime. That is when Allen would win it with a controversial goal. Wichita was called for a too many men on the ice penalty, giving the Americans a power-play. Thunder Head Coach Bruce Ramsay vehemently argued the call, but to no avail. That gave Allen the man advantage, and they would win it a little over a minute later. Lancaster moved the puck across the blue line to Register, who made a perfect pass to Asuchak at the back door. All the Americans forward had to do was redirect the puck past Lavigne for the game-winner.
The victory gave Allen a sweep of the three-game series, moving them to 34-18-3 on the season. More importantly, they are now just 10 percentage points behind Wichita for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.
The Americans finished 3-7 on the power-play. Lancaster finished with a goal and two assists and Register added two assists. Paterson stopped 40 of 43 shots. Lavigne made 30 saves for Wichita. Dickman and Beauregard each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder.
The Wichita Thunder (34-16-8) will have a few days off before heading to Kansas City to take on the Mavericks on Thursday evening. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier