Riley Gill Brilliant in Blanking Thunder; Allen Americans Win, 3-0
The Great Wall of China may be 13,000-plus miles away from Wichita, KS, but the Thunder got a look at the hockey version of it on Friday night. The Allen Americans got 45-saves from goalkeeper Riley Gill, including 27 in the third period, to blank the Wichita Thunder in the 3-0 victory.
This was a contest that was dominated by the Thunder for most of the game. They outshot the Americans in the first period 11-8, but came away from the period trailing 1-0. With Wichita on a delayed penalty, Allen pulled their goalie looking for the goal before the power-play could even take effect. The puck came back to Dyson Stevenson who fired a wrist shot from the point that found its way through a screen and into the net to give Allen the lead at the 14:21 mark. It was Stevenson’s third goal of the season.
In the second period, the Thunder would really put on the pressure, outshooting Allen 27-9 but, once again, it would be the Americans who would get on the scoreboard. At the 8:40 mark, the very dangerous Chad Costello entered into the Wichita zone and made a nice move in front of the net, splitting two defenders before beating Drew Owsley for his ninth goal of the season.
The lead looked like it was going to be extended at the 12:36 mark when Bryan Moore gained control of the puck on a breakaway and came in on Owsley, but the goalie made a spectacular save to keep it a two-goal game.
In the third the Wichita Thunder were forced to take some chances and it looked like it would pay off when Ian Lowe made a great pass out in front of the net to Nathan Moon, but Riley Gill stoned Moon on the one-timer to keep it 2-0.
A couple of minutes later, the Americans extended their lead. Greger Hanson was able to gain control of the puck in the neutral zone and beat two defenders for the breakaway. He beat Owsley through the five-hole for his 11th goal of the season to make it 3-0.
At the 13 minute mark it looked like the Thunder would get on the board when the puck bounced right onto the stick of Logan Nelson, who had an empty net to shoot into. He fired up high and looked like he had a sure goal, but Gill made a Gumby-like move to back-hand the puck and deflect it away much to the dismay of a completely disillusioned Thunder crowd who could not believe that the save was made.
The Allen American would win 3-0. Riley Gill finished the shutout with 45-saves. The Thunder had seven power-play opportunities but could not capitalize. Wichita killed off all four of their penalty-killing opportunities.
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday night. Face-off is at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier