Lavigne, Special Teams Shine in 4-1 Thunder Win in Allen
The Wichita Thunder have been one of the best teams in the ECHL this season, entering Tuesday’s contest with the third best record overall. They have been getting outstanding goaltending, solid defensive play, and have the likely MVP this season in Anthony Beauregard. However, the team has not been that good on the power play, entering the weekend connecting on just over 12% of their opportunities with the man-advantage, 13th (out of 14 teams) in the league.
That final piece may finally be in place, as the Thunder connected on the power play twice on Tuesday evening in their 4-1 victory over the Allen Americans. That now gives Wichita five goals with the man advantage in their last three games. Thunder goalie Hayden Lavigne was brilliant in the contest, stopping 30 shots to earn his fourth victory of the season.
Early on it would be Allen dominating play and that helped the Americans to take a 1-0 lead 15:10 into the first period. Samuel Laberge fired a shot that Lavigne saved, but the rebound came right to Les Lancaster, who was able to kick it onto his stick before firing a wrist shot that beat Lavigne for his 15th goal of the season.
The lead held for a little over two minutes before Beau Starrett tied the score with his 10th goal of the year. The play started with Ryan White harassing the Allen defensemen behind the net with a relentless forecheck. That allowed Matteo Gennaro to gain control of the puck along the boards, passing the puck to White in front. The Thunder forward fired a shot that Americans’ goaltender Jake Paterson saved, but Starrett put in the rebound to tie the score at one.
That goal seemed to turn the tide in the game as the Thunder dominated action over much of the final 42 minutes of the game. At the 12:37 mark in the second, Wichita was on the power play when they would take the lead. Spencer Dorowicz took a pass from Brayden Watts behind the net, moved out in front and tried to wrap a backhander in, but Paterson got down to block the attempt. However, Alex Peters moved in from the point as Dorowicz came out in front of the net and was able to put the rebound over the shoulder of the Allen goaltender for the first goal of his professional career.
Just before the end of the second period, Lavigne made the save of the game. Off the draw in the Wichita zone, Steven Owre corralled the puck and started moving toward the end line before making a perfect pass across the slot to Josh Maser who was all alone at the backdoor. It looked like Maser had an easy redirect to tie the score, but Lavigne somehow slid over just in time to make an unbelievable pad save to keep his team on top by a goal.
Just before the two-minute mark of the third, Gennaro scored the second power play goal of the game for Wichita. Jay Dickman carried the puck behind the net, getting to the opposite side before making a great pass out in front to Gennaro who blasted in the one-timer for his 17th goal of the year, putting the Thunder on top, 3-1.
With about 1:30 left in the contest, the Americans pulled Paterson for the extra attacked, but Dorowicz sealed the victory seconds later, firing the puck into the empty net for his fourth goal of the season. That put the Thunder ahead 4-1, which would be the final.
Lavigne had a big night in net, stopping 30 of 31 shots. Dorowicz and Gennaro each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder.
With the two power play goals, the Thunder are now 11th in the league with the man advantage at 13.8%. The team also killed off six Allen power plays, moving their penalty killing to 88.7%, tops in the ECHL.
The Wichita Thunder (31-15-4-1) will have a day off before heading to Kansas City to take on the Mavericks (21-21-6-2) to begin a three-game series starting on Thursday. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier