Register Logs Two Goals, Americans Down Thunder, 4-1
Allen Americans defenseman Matt Register has long been a nemesis of the Wichita Thunder, and he continued that on Saturday evening, scoring two goals to lead the Americans to a 4-1 victory. Allen put together one of their most decisive victories of the season, holding Wichita to 22 shots while peppering Thunder goaltender Evan Buitenhuis with 36 shots. Matteo Gennaro had the lone goal for the Thunder. The victory moved Allen just 19 percentage points behind Wichita for second place in the Western Conference.
Things got off to a great start for Allen, as Register scored 2:33 into the contest. Sam Ruopp gained control of the puck in the corner inside the Wichita zone. He fired a pass to the side of the net looking for Spencer Asuchuk, but the puck deflected out to Register in the high slot, who fired a wrist shot that found the upper part of the net. That was the third goal of the season for Register.
The Americans were controlling play for much of the first period, but a power-play goal by Gennaro at 13:37 tied the score at one. Dean Stewart had the puck at the point, passing it down along the half boards to Anthony Beauregard. He moved down toward the goal line, then turned up toward the left face-off circle looking for a little space to maneuver. Beauregard noticed Gennaro at the opposite face-off circle, and made a seeing-eye pass across the slot where Gennaro teed up, blasting a one-timer by Allen goaltender Francis Marotte for his 20th goal of the year.
The Americans controlled play in the first and continued to dominate in the second, outshooting the Thunder, 15-6. However, it looked like Wichita would take the lead right near the 10-minute mark of the second. Beau Starrett stole the puck just outside the American zone, speeding in on a breakaway. He moved the puck to his forehand before pulling it back, the swooped across the net, lifting a backhander that looked destined for the back of the net. However, Marotte made a spectacular glove save to deny Starrett and keep the score tied.
That huge save turned the game, as the Americans would take the lead just 28 seconds later. A terrible turnover inside the Thunder zone but the puck right on the stick of Brett Neumann just inside the right face-off circle. He fired a wrist shot that beat Buitenhuis under the glove to put Allen on top, 2-1.
Just 71 seconds later, the Americans were back on the scoreboard. Dyson Stevenson gained control of the puck along the boards inside his own zone, and then led a 4-on-2 break through the neutral zone and into the Wichita end. After crossing the blueline, he passed the puck to Josh Lammon along the boards, who then fed it to Les Lancaster in the high slot. Lancaster fired a shot that beat Buitenhuis under the blocker for his 16th goal of the year and suddenly the Americans were in complete control of this game.
The two-goal lead held into the third, and Register would close out the scoring with his second tally of the contest at the 12:20 mark. Asuchuk won the draw inside the Wichita zone back to Register, who moved down the slot before firing a wrist shot that beat the Thunder goaltender under the glove to make it 4-1. That would be the final.
Marotte was outstanding between the pipes for the Americans, stopping 21 of 22 shots. Buitenhuis made 32 saves for Wichita. Stewart extended his point streak to nine straight games with an assist and Beauregard now leads the ECHL in points with 65.
The Thunder will be looking to salvage a victory out of this three-game series when they take on Allen Sunday afternoon. The puck drops at 2:05.
By Robert Pannier