Troock Hat Trick Sends Thunder to 10th Straight Loss, 5-3
WICHITA, KS – Branden Troock scored a hat trick as part of a four-point performance leading the Allen Americans to a 5-3 victory over the Wichita Thunder. Allen scored five unanswered goals to take command of this contest. Jack Combs scored a goal and added two assists. Carter Johnson scored two goals for the Thunder. The loss was the 10th straight for the team, making them 0-9-1 in their last 10 contests.
Johnson staked his team to the early lead, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the game. The first tally came at 1:55. With the draw in the Americans zone, the puck came back to the point to Dalton Skelly, who fed it across the blueline to Cam Clarke. Clark lifted a wrist shot that Johnson perfectly redirected past Antoine Bibeau to give the Thunder in 1-0 lead.
Just before the four-minute mark Johnson was back on the board. In a play eerily similar to the first goal, Johnson won the draw inside the Americans end. Michal Stinil passed the puck back to Skelly, who lifted a wrist shot that was deflected in front, putting it up in the air. Carter simply reached back with his stick, batting it into the goal for his second tally of the night and ninth of the season.
Wichita was dominating play and looked like they would blow Allen out, but the Americans began to tilt the ice, getting on the board at 5:04 thanks to Troock. Allen was doing a great job of controlling the puck inside the Wichita zone. Ben Carroll fired a wrist shot from the point that Thunder netminder Jake Theut saved, but the rebound came to Troock, who blasted it in for his fourth goal of the year.
At 9:34, the Americans tied the score on a beautiful play by Allen. Chad Butcher carried the puck through the neutral zone, passing it ahead to Troock just before he crossed the blueline. That set up a 2-on-1 break. Troock drew the Thunder defenseman toward him, then passed the puck across to Combs who redirected it by Theut to tie the score at two.
Allen kept the pressure on, taking the lead at 16:31. Just after a Thunder power-play was killed off by the Americans, Kris Myllari passed the puck behind the goal to Jared Bethune. He then made an unbelievable individual effort, carrying the puck up the boards, through the neutral zone, fending off three attempted checks to impede his progress. As Bethune moved past the half boards, he swept in on goal, tucking a wrist shot by the Wichita netminder for his third goal of the year.
Allen held onto the one goal lead through the first intermission, but the second period was a wild affair as Allen outshot Wichita, 21-16. However, both goaltenders were spectacular, as only one goal was scored in the frame, and that came off the stick of Troock. For over 18 minutes both goaltenders had shut down their opponent but, at 18:39, Combs stole the puck in the corner, then made a pass to Troock who was standing just inside the right face-off circle. He lifted a wrist shot that beat Theut over the glove for his second goal of the game.
Troock closed out the hat trick at 3:39 of the third, taking a pass from Combs and wristing a shot by Theut for his sixth goal of the year.
Wichita had no answers for Bibeau for over 40 minutes, but finally got on the board thanks to a great individual effort by Logan Fredericks. Fredericks stole the puck from an Americans player along the boards in the neutral zone, carried it in before dropping it back to Brayden Watts. Watts waited for Fredericks to get open on the other side of the crease, then passed it to his teammate who redirected it in for his fifth goal of the season.
Wichita was back within two, but could get no closer, falling to the Americans, 5-3. Besides the two goals by Johnson, Skelly had two assists. Theut stopped 33 of 38 shots. Butcher had two assists for Allen. Bibeau stopped 34 of 37 shots.
The Thunder head on the Kansas City for a Friday night tilt against the Mavericks hoping to end their losing streak. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier