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Allen Americans Pucks n Paws night Feb 14 2015The Wichita Thunder have played some very good games this season, but last night was probably one of the most exciting since their partner in this tango was the top ranked Allen Americans who gave them a thorough drubbing on their last visit to Allen — Jan. 16th (8-2 loss) and Jan. 17th (6-4 loss). As usual it evolved into a fairly physical game, however Wichita really focused on playing some smart hockey for the full sixty minutes. That doesn’t mean the penalty box was not utilized at all — let’s be realistic, this is Allen and Wichita after all.

Last night’s game coincided with Allen’s first Pucks-N-Paws night which led to some fun moments with dogs barking in the arena throughout the game and they seemed to greatly enjoy Neal Diamond’s Sweet Caroline during intermission. The Americans sported their specialty jerseys (seen above), illustrating dogs on the front and a large paw print on the back under the name and numbers, which were auctioned post game.

Wichita started their offensive push very quickly at 34 seconds into the 1st period when Justin Bernhardt scored on Allen’s Riley Gill off a rebound from Danick Gauthier, with the added assist from Eric Meland. This would be the start of Bernhardt’s crazy night which would end with a hat trick off of his six shots on goal for the game. Allen’s Brett Lyon tied the game a short time later at 2:16. Wichita rebounded later in the period at 16:03 with a goal from Erick Lizon, his 7th of the season which has tied his professional season high goals dating back to 2008-09 with the CHL’s Laredo Bucks. Happy Valentine’s Day Erick! The scoresheet lists Kirill Tulupov with an assist, however Mike MacIntyre should receive that honor instead, along with Nikita Kashirsky.

The 2nd period shifted momentum to the Americans as Tyler Ludwig’s slapshot would tie the game at 2-2 at 3:56, and later Allen’s Swede Greger Hanson would put Allen in the lead at 3-2 for the first time of the game at 12:48.

Justin Bernhardt would start the 3rd period with his 2nd goal of the night on a strange twist of luck that started on a mid ice pass along the boards from Kirill Tulupov that Riley Gill came out of the net to play but mishandled it as RG Flath stole it and popped it to Bernhardt who was waiting near the crease for an easy shot at the glaringly empty net. About two minutes later Allen jumped ahead once again as Kyle Follmer scored at 5:15 on an equally mishandled puck situation as Thunder’s Anthony Perdicaro lost a puck at the side of Boron’s net and Follmer took full advantage of the situation. Less than 30 seconds later Bernhardt would tally his hat trick with the game-tying goal at 5:43 to send the game into overtime at the end of regulation 4-4.

The Wichita Thunder dominated overtime allowing Allen no shots on goal and at 4:04 on a powerplay (Chad Costello was called for tripping Mike Wilson), Danick Gauthier clinched the win for the Thunder (assisted by Mike Wilson and Ian Lowe).

Period Team Time Goals
1st WIC 0:34 J. Bernhardt (assists D. Gauthier, E. Meland)
1st ALN 2:16 B. Lyon (assists G. Clarke, N. Descoteaux)
1st WIC 16:03 E. Lizon (assists N. Kashirsky, K. Tulupov Mike MacIntyre)
2nd ALN 3:56 Tyler Ludwig (assist C. Costello)
2nd ALN 12:48 G. Hanson (assists C. Costello, A. Gens)
3rd WIC 3:19 J. Bernhardt (assist R. Flath with probable added assist from Kirill Tulupov)
3rd ALN 5:15 K. Follmer
3rd WIC 5:43 J. Bernhardt (assists D. Gauthier, R. Flath)
OT WIC 4:04 D. Gauthier (assists M. Wilson, I. Lowe) — PP

Until the January games against Allen the Thunder had remained fairly even against Allen and following this game the Thunder are now 4-5-0-0 against the Americans. Shots on goal for the game through overtime were 33-30 for Allen.

Playoff Race: The Thunder bused home following the game last night and will face Allen again in Wichita this afternoon. Every point the Thunder can grab in the next two games against Allen are crucial to keep up in the tight Central Division points race for a playoff spot. Wichita’s win last night gives them 52 points and a firm spot in 3rd place. Quad City won their game against Tulsa last night 3-2 which keeps the Mallards in 2nd place in the Central Division with 54 points, and the Brampton Beast once again defeated Rapid City 5-0 and Rapid City remains in 5th with 47 points.