Gorsuch Shines as Thunder Playoff Hopes Spurred
WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder playoff hopes stayed alive for one more day as Trevor Gorsuch stopped 40 shots to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over the Allen Americans on Friday. The victory keeps the Thunder tied with the Utah Grizzlies for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division with both teams having one game remaining. Jay Dickman and Jake Wahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder.
The contest was scoreless through the first 14 minutes but Michal Stinil gave Wichita the lead 14:37 into the first. Wahlin passed the puck to Stinil at the right faceoff circle, who blew a shot by Luke Peressini for his 31st goal of the year. That gave Stinil points in five straight games.
Less than two minutes later, Dickman scored on the power-play to extend the lead to two. Cole MacDonald took a shot from the blueline that Dickman redirected past the Americans netminder for his 26th tally of the year.
With just under minutes left in the first, former Thunder forward Stefan Fournier scored his 13th goal of the season to cut the deficit to one. Aidan Brown led a 2-on-1 rush into the Thunder end, feeding the puck to Fournier who redirected the puck past Gorsuch to make it 2-1.
From there, it was all Gorsuch. He stopped 15 shots in the first, 12 in the second, and 13 more in the third. That included making two unbelievable saves in the final four minutes of the game to keep Wichita on top by a goal.
That proved to be huge as Wahlin delivered an empty net tally with eight seconds in the game to seal the victory. It was the 13th goal of the season for Wahlin.
The Thunder will take on the Americans again on Saturday, this time in Allen. Wichita and Utah both have 72 points. The Grizzlies take on the Tulsa Oilers on Saturday. Wichita must earn one more than Utah to make the playoffs as the Grizzlies hold the tie-breaker should the teams be tied. The puck drops at 7:05 for the Thunder.