Bethune Leads Americans Past Thunder, 4-1
ALLEN, TX – The Wichita Thunder took to the ice for the first time in nine days, and the rust showed as the team put up just 11 shots through the first two periods in a 4-1 loss to the Allen Americans on Wednesday evening. Jared Bethune scored two goals for Allen and Luke Peressini made 24 saves. Stefan Fournier had the lone goal for Wichita.
The Americans took the lead 5:22 into the contest. Chad Costello passed the puck to Philip Beaulieu at the right point, who fired a wrist shot that found its way past a screened Jake Theut for his fourth goal of the year.
Just after the 13-minute mark, Bethune extended the lead to two. Garrett Schmitz carried the puck behind his own net, but Bethune swept in and picked his pocket, quickly moving in front before lifting a wrist shot that beat Theut. The sixth goal of the season for Bethune made it 2-0.
The Thunder were outplayed for much of the first period and looked like they would head to the first intermission down by a pair, but JD Dudek took an elbowing penalty with 50 seconds left in the frame and Fourier made them pay 10 seconds later. The Americans won the draw in their own end, but Cam Clarke was able to make a steal, passing the puck to Michal Stinil who took a pass-shot that Fournier redirected by Peressini for his ninth goal of the year.
The second period was completely dominated by the Americans as they denied Wichita a shot through the first 14 minutes of the frame. Allen outshot the Thunder 15-2 in the second and they would also extend their lead back to two on the second goal of the game by Bethune. Jackson Leppard took a shot that was deflected in front, right to Bethune on the opposite side of the net. He had a wide open net, easily putting it in to make it 3-1.
Despite giving up three goals through the first two frames, Theut was spectacular. The Americans completely dominated the second period and should have been ahead 8-1, but Theut made a number of highlight reel saves, including an unbelievable stick save on Costello when the Allen forward had what looked like a clear goal, but Theut was able to dive across against his momentum and knock the puck away.
In the third, the Thunder were able to get more pressure on Peressini, but he was on top of his game, making 14 saves in the period. His team rewarded his excellence when J.C. Campagna extended the lead to three with his 10th goal of the year. The Americans entered the Wichita zone on a rush. Darian Skeoch passed the puck to Campagna, who beat a screened Theut to make it 4-1. That would be the final.
Theut finished with 31 saves. Peressini had 24.
The Thunder return home on Thursday to welcome the Toledo Walleye (37-15-3). The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier