Peters Hat Trick Not Enough for Thunder, 8-5
WICHITA, KS – Alex Peters scored the first hat trick of the season for the Wichita Thunder, but it was not enough as the Thunder fell to Allen Americans on Friday, 8-5. Branden Troock and Joshua Winquist each scored two goals and added an assist for Allen. The loss dropped Wichita to 24-27-8, seven points behind the Idaho Steelheads for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Allen took control of this game right off, scoring three goals in the first 3:32 of the contest. The first came at 1:16 when Winquist stole the puck inside the Wichita zone, passing it to Troock, who fired a one-timer past Jake Theut to make it 1-0. It was the 16th goal of the season for Troock.
Just before the three-minute mark, the Americans were back on the board. Philip Beaulieu fired a shot that Theut saved, but the puck slipped through his arm and was headed toward the net. Chad Costello knocked it in for his 25th goal.
Just 37 seconds later, Allen extended the lead to three. JD Dudek’s shot was saved by Theut but, like the previous goal, the puck slithered through his arm and toward the goal line. Chad Butcher knocked in the loose puck for his eighth tally, making it 3-0. That would be it for Theut, who was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots.
The Thunder were in danger of being blown out, but Peters got the team on the board with his first goal of the game at the 7:34 mark. Billy Exell passed the puck back to Peters who was trailing the play. He fired a laser wrist shot that beat Luke Peressini for his fourth goal of the year.
That made it 3-1, which was the score heading to the first intermission, but the Americans cam out of the break and added three more goals within the first eight minutes of the second period to expend their lead to five.
Winquist made it 5-1 with back-to-back goals scored 2:28 apart. The first came at 2:56. Campagna went across the slot to Winquist, who buried a one-timer to make it 4-1. At 5:24, Troock fired a shot that Winquist redirected past Bailey Brkin for his second goal of the game and ninth of the season.
At the 7:47, the Americans scored on the power-play to make it 6-1. Campagna took a wrist shot from just above the left faceoff circle that hit off the stick of Cam Clarke and over the shoulder of Brkin for his 11th goal of the year.
Peters gave the Thunder some life with his second goal of the game right at the halfway point of the second period. The puck was loose in front of the net, as a scramble ensued trying to gain control. Peters moved in from the point, gaining control in the mid-slot. He waited patiently for a screen to block Peressini before shooting a wrist shot to the blocker side that made it 6-2.
Troock responded right away, scoring his second goal of the game to extend the lead back to five. With the Americans back on the power-play, Kris Myllari moved the puck to Troock at the right faceoff circle, who buried a one-timer to make it 7-2. That was the fourth straight goal that opponents had scored on the power-play.
At 13:49, Matteo Gennaro scored in his first game since returning to the Thunder from the Bakersfield Condors (AHL). Carter Johnson stole the puck inside the Americans end, passing it to Gennaro who beat Peressini to make it 7-3.
The Americans had been great at taking the life out of the Thunder and their crowd. Every time Wichita scored, Allen responded, and that was the case here as well. Less than a minute after Gennaro scored, Costello gained control of the puck in his end then passed it ahead, sending Spencer Asuchak on a breakaway. He moved in and beat Brkin with a wrist shot for his 21st goal of the year.
It was 8-3, but the Thunder showed a lot of heart, scoring two goals in the final 1:35 of the second period to make it 8-5. Peter Crinella scored his 23rd goal of the season when he swatted a puck out of the air. With three seconds left in the period, Peters beat Peressini with a wrist shot to finish the hat trick.
There had been nine goals scored in the second period, but neither team could light the lamp in the third. Peressini finished with 29 saves to earn the victory. Brkin took the loss, stopping 19 of 24 shots.
The Thunder head down I-35 on Sunday to take on the Allen Americans again. Game time is scheduled for 2:00.
By Robert Pannier