Allen, TX (March 17th) - Kirill Tulupov scored the game-winner with 19 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Wichita (29-23-2-6) past Allen (39-13-5-3) by the final of 5-4 on Tuesday night at the Allen Event Center. The win pulls Wichita into a fourth-place tie with Tulsa with 66 points. Wichita improves to 6-2 in games decided in overtime and 6-6-0-1 against the Americans in the regular season series.
Danick Gauthier finished with three points while Mike Wilson and Eric Meland had a goal and an assist. Grant Rollheiser earned his 11th victory of the season after coming on in relief at the beginning of the third period.
Both teams recorded power play goals in the first period, which were over a minute apart. After Kevin Young was sent off, Meland stuffed home a rebound at the right post 30 seconds into the man advantage to make it 1-0. Kurtis Bartliff was assessed a two minute minor for holding on the next shift and gave Allen their first power play of the game. Gary Steffes recorded his 42nd of the year after a clearing attempt didn't get out of the zone. Chad Costello found him in front of the net and he tapped it past Tim Boron that tied it at one.
In the second, the two teams combined for five goals. Gauthier scored just 20 seconds into the frame with a beautiful toe-drag move and beat Riley Gill short side to make it 2-1. The Americans tied the game again at 5:48 with a goal from Costello, which was his 100th point of the season. Gauthier scored his second of the period at 11:09 with a wrist shot from the right face-off dot that squirted through Gill to make it 3-2. Allen scored the next two that were less than four minutes apart. Jamie Schaafsma put home a rebound at 14:05 for his 15th of the season. Patrik Valcak put home his first of the season at 18:49 on the power play to take a 4-3 lead into the dressing room.
At the start of the final frame, Rollheiser entered the net to replace Boron. The Thunder controlled the front half of the period and pulled level when Wilson found the back of the net on the man advantage. Todd Hosmer, who just missed with two wrist shots earlier in the shift, threaded the needle over to Wilson and he tied the game at four. It was the fourth lead change of the contest with assists going to Hosmer and Ian Lowe. After the Americans went on their third power play chance, the home team had plenty of chances down the stretch and finished the period with 17 shots on net. Time would run out and the two teams needed overtime for the sixth time this season.
Wichita outshot the Americans 4-2 in the extra session. At 4:41, Tulupov took a pass from Gauthier inside the Allen blue line and fired a low shot through traffic that got through Gill to give the Thunder a 5-4 victory.
Wichita has won its last four games that have been decided in overtime and improves to 3-1 against Allen in that department. The Thunder won for just the fifth time when trailing after two and is now 5-17-1-3 this season. Wichita also improves to 16-5-2-6 in one-goal games. Gauthier had two goals, finished with seven shots on net and was a +3. Meland and Wilson each had two points on the power play. Hosmer had two helpers, both of which were on the man advantage. Rollheiser stopped all 19 shots he faced in 25 minutes of work. Gill took the overtime loss, stopping 33 of 38 shots he faced.
Wichita was 2-for-5 on the man advantage. Allen went 2-for-3 on the power play.
Wichita ends its seven-game road trip tomorrow night against Allen starting at 7:05 p.m. The Thunder returns home on Friday to face Allen starting at 7:05 p.m. Friday is Youth Jersey Night, presented by Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. The first 1,000 kids 12 and under through the door will receive this special giveaway. Friday is also the second edition of Wiener Dog Nationals and Scout Night.
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.