Record-Setting Night for Crinella Delivers Thunder Victory, 4-3
ALLEN, TX – Peter Crinella scored the game-winner with a little less than 11 minutes in the game to keep the red-hot Wichita Thunder rolling as they downed the Allen Americans, 4-3. The goal was the 100th point of Crinella’s professional career. Alex Peters and Jay Dickman each recorded two assists. Jackson Leppard had a goal and two assists and Chad Costello added three assists for the Americans.
Allen took the lead 4:39 into the contest when Leppard scored his 15th goal of the year. With the Americans on the power-play, Costello passed the puck to Leppard at the right faceoff circle, who fired a one-timer by Jake Theut to make it 1-0.
The Americans had used their special teams to grab the early lead and Wichita decided to respond in kind, scoring two power-play goals and adding a short-handed tally before the first intermission to take a 3-1 lead into the break.
The first goal came on the power-play at 7:26. Dickman passed the puck to Stefan Fournier at the side of the net. Fournier lifted a shot that beat Francis Marotte for his fourth goal of the season, tying the score at one.
Just over two minutes later, Crinella scored his first goal of the contest. Once again, with Wichita on the power-play, Peters fired a shot from the point that Marotte saved, but Crinella scooped up the rebound and put it in to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead.
With 8:11 left in the period, Stephen Johnson added a short-handed tally to extend the Thunder lead to two. Johnson stole the puck inside his own zone, then headed the other way on a breakaway, beating the Americans netminder with a shot just past the glove for his eighth goal of the season.
The Thunder had a solid lead coming out of the first intermission, but the Americans put the pressure on in the second frame, outshooting Wichita 15-5. That helped the Americans to tie the score as they scored two tallies during the period.
Spencer Asuchak scored both goals in the period. The first came at 11:08 when Costello passed the puck across the crease to Asuchak, who redirected it past Theut to make it 3-2. Less than five minutes later, Costello took a shot that Theut saved, but Asuchak put in the rebound to tie the score at three.
The Americans had the momentum and they outshot Wichita in the third, 12-9. However, it was the Thunder scoring the only goal of the frame as Crinella scored his second tally of the contest. Dalton Skelly passed the puck to Crinella in the neutral zone, who moved up the left wing, sliding across the slot before lifting a wrist shot that found the upper corner.
Allen put the pressure on in the final minutes, trying to get the equalizer, but Olivier Rodrigue, who had replaced Theut to start the third period, stopped all 12 shots he faced. That secured the 4-3 victory.
The Thunder (22-21-7) moved to 9-0-2 in their last 11 games. Wichita will take on the Iowa Heartlanders (20-23-7) in Coralville on Wednesday. The puck drops at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier