Wichita, KS (March 20th) - Wichita (30-24-2-6) returned home for the first time since the beginning of March and couldn't hold onto a third period lead, losing to Allen (40-14-5-3) by the final of 4-3 on Friday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. The two teams went back-and-forth before the Americans scored two late goals in less than four minutes to grab their first lead and hung on for the victory. The Thunder finish the week 2-1 against Allen and 7-7-0-1 in the season-series. The loss combined with a Rapid City win pushes Wichita and Tulsa into a fourth place tie with 68 points.
The two teams combined for 28 shots in the first period, but had nothing to show for it. The latter portion of the frame turned into a revolving door to the penalty box. Seven minor penalties were called from the 16:19 mark on and saw Wichita head into the second on a two-man advantage.
Wichita got on the board first just 54 seconds into the second. Danick Gauthier found the net for the fourth time this week from the right circle. Allen answered midway through with a goal from Greger Hanson for his 22nd of the year. With two minutes left, Mike Wilson scored his first of two on the night after coming out of the penalty box on a breakaway and beat Riley Gill with a backhand to re-gain the lead at 2-1.
Spencer Asuchak tied things 1:26 into the third period after getting around a defenseman at the blue line and fired a low shot past Grant Rollheiser for his seventh of the year. The Thunder answered quickly to re-take the lead as Wilson caught a pass from Gauthier in the slot and beat Gill at 5:37. He almost added a third after getting a terrific pass from Jared Walker, but Gill made two beautiful saves on the blocker-side post. Chad Costello recorded his 34th of the year at 11:12 that tied the game. He was coming down the left wing on his backhand and from a sharp angle, slipped one past Rollheiser. At 14:54, Jamie Schaafsma lit the lamp for the eventual game-winner from the right hash mark in the slot and made it 4-3. Wichita had a few chances down the stretch, but the Americans snuck out with the victory.
Gauthier recorded a goal and an assist, giving him three-straight multi-point games this week. Justin Bernhardt added two assists, giving him five points (2g, 3a) in his last two. Wilson equals his career-high in goals with a pair tonight (12) and needs three more points to set a new career-high as he currently has 43. Rollheiser's streak of shutout hockey was stopped at 113:42 and took the loss, stopping 29 of 33 shots. Gill takes the win, stopping 30 of 33 shots he faced.
Wichita was 1-for-3 on the man advantage. Allen went 0-for-8 on the power play.
Wichita continues its three-game homestand with an important match-up tomorrow night against the Tulsa Oilers at 7:05 p.m.
Individual tickets are on sale now. Don't delay! Tickets can be purchased at the INTRUST Arena Box office, by calling 755-SEAT or go online at www.selectaseat.com. Stay up-to-date on all the news during the season by visiting www.wichitathunder.com.
About the ECHL
The ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 541 players who have started their career in the ECHL have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 29 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.