Greger Hanson Records Hat Trick; Thunder Scoring Drought Continues
The Wichita Thunder saw their scoring drought reach 187:09 Friday night, thanks to Allen Americans goalie Jamie Murray, but it was Greger Hanson who stole the show, as the star forward recorded the hat trick to lead Allen to the 9-0 victory. The loss was the fifth in a row for the Thunder, including the third straight game where they have been shutout.
The Thunder looked sharp from the opening faceoff, controlling play in the Allen end, but it would be the Americans who would strike first. At the 5:21 mark, Spencer Asuchak passed the puck up to Chad Costello, who carried it into the Wichita end. He dropped the puck back to Hanson, who fired a shot over Drew Owsley’s shoulder for his 16th goal of the season.
Two and a half minutes later the Americans had a great chance to extend their lead, but Owsley stoned Asuchak on a breakaway to keep it a one-goal game. However, about two minutes later Allen would move the lead to two. The Thunder were able to kill off a short-handed situation but, just as the penalty expired, Joel Chouinard batted in a rebound to make it 2-0. That was his third goal of the season.
The ice had tilted following the first goal, but the Thunder outshot the Americans 13-9 in the first. In the second, the flood gates would open against the Thunder.
It started at 2:19 of the second frame. With Allen on the power-play, Owsley made a huge save on David Makowski a little less than two minutes into the period, but 28-seconds later Makowski took a shot that Owsley saved. The rebound bounced to Eric Roy who put it back in for his fifth goal of the season. The goal was assisted on by Costello, giving him an assist on each of the first three goals of the game.
A little less than six minutes later the visitors would be on the scoreboard again. Tanner Eberle tried to score on a wraparound, but the Thunder goalie was able to stop the attempt. However, the puck bounced to the other side of the net and hit off of Jake Marchment and into the goal for his ninth of the season.
At 10:40 of the period, the lead would be five and Owsley’s night would be over. Costello made a beautiful pass to Zach Hall who was skating down the slot area. He made a move to his forehand and put the puck into the goal for his third of the season.
Trailing 5-0, Thunder Head Coach Malcolm Cameron put in Peter Di Salvo, who was signed by the team earlier in the day. Things did not go much better for the new goalkeeper.
With a little over three minutes left in the period Asuchak took a shot that was saved by Di Salvo. Derek Mathers gained the rebound and fired back on net but, again, Di Salvo came up big. However, the rebound went to Hanson on the either side of the goal and he put it home to make it 6-0.
The Thunder were outshot 19-11 in the second period and it would only get worse for them in the third. Greger Hanson would record the hat trick a little over half way through the period when he put in rebound to make it 7-0. That was his 18th goal of the season, fourth best in the ECHL.
Four minutes later Travis Brown took a shot from the point that Asuchak deflected over Di Salvo’s shoulder to make it 8-0. That was Asuchak’s 14th goal of the season. ‘
The final score came with a little over four minutes left in the game when Roy made a beautiful pass across the crease to the other side of the goal. There, Marchment put a one-timer into a nearly open net for his 10th goal of the season. The goal was also the third power-play tally of the contest for the Allen Americans.
Greger Hanson had a huge game for the Americans, scoring 3-goals and adding 2-assists. Costello finished with 4-assists on the evening, moving his league-leading point total to 53. Hanson’s five points give him 40 for the season, fifth best in the ECHL. Asuchak added a goal and 3-assists. Marchment had 2-goals, and Roy and Hall each added a goal and an assist.
Lost in the offensive production was the performance of Murray, who stopped all 27-shots he faced. That included an unbelievable save on Jamie Doornbosch in the second period. Murray made a save at the left corner of the net, but the rebound bounced out to the other side of the goal where the Thunder defenseman fired a shot at a wide open net. However, Murray came out of nowhere to dive and save the puck from getting in to preserve the shutout.
The game was the third straight shutout loss by the Thunder and the second straight to Allen. The last time Wichita scored was when Doornbosch netted a goal at the 12:51 mark of the third period against Allen back on December 18. During the five-game losing streak the Thunder have managed just 2-goals and a visibly upset Coach Cameron didn’t mince words following the loss.
“I’m embarrassed,” the Coach passionately explained. “There are going to have to be changes made here and I don’t care if I have to get rid of every player whose dogging it out there.”
The Wichita Thunder will head to the road tomorrow, going to Tulsa to take on the Oilers for the next two nights looking to break the losing streak. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier