For the first time in the Finals series against Wichita, one of the teams was able to string together back-to-back wins. By winning Sunday and Tuesday night, the Allen Americans find themselves one game away from their first league championship in franchise history. Game 5 found Allen defeating Wichita by a score of 5-1 and taking 3 games to 2 lead over the Thunder.
The game started off with a lot of back and forth and hardly any offense. Both teams seemed content to let the game warm up and see what the other team was going to put forward. The first shot didn’t come until after 3 minutes into the game. Allen often found themselves struggling when they fail to dictate the pace of the game. Tonight, netminder, Aaron Dell was on his game. At one point, Dell made two back-to-back saves from point blank range during a 5-minute major taken by Kale Kerbashian when he drove Nathan Lutz into the boards. The refs immediately called a major boarding call as Lutz did his best sales pitch by lying motionless on the ice for about a minute.
Lutz was back out on the ice for his next shift and with just over a minute left in the major to Kerbashian, Andrew Martin took a cross ice feed from Kevin Young and from the point put the puck past Dell to put the Thunder up 1-0. All things considering, coming out of the first period only trailing 1-0 was very fortunate for Allen, as they also found themselves being outshot, 7-3.
It didn’t take long for Allen to take control of the game as the 2nd period started. 49 seconds into the period, Mike Berube kicked the puck back out to the blue line and from the high slot, Todd Robinson knocked the puck through Torrie Jung’s legs and practically to Duncanville to tie the game up for the Americans. Shots from a distance, in fact have plagued Jung in the 3 Allen wins, especially in game 2 when Allen scored at least 3 goals from just inside the blue line (if I recall). Tonight, Torrie definitely struggled with long shots and controlling rebounds.
About 2 ½ minutes later, Jim McKenzie brought the puck up the near boards on a two-on-one and with an absolute sick flick of the wrist, put the puck behind Jung and like that, Allen would take the lead at 2-1. At 6:35, defenseman, Tyler Ludwig had a great individual effort to keep a clearing attempt in the zone. After Ludwig scored, there was the feeling through the crowd that something special was going to take place. At 3-1, the Americans had a death grip on the game.
With just under 3 minutes left in the middle frame, Les Reaney left his skates as he slammed into the Trevor Ludwig’s head into the boards. Having called the major earlier in the game, the officials didn’t hesitate calling the major, giving Allen a huge opportunity to solidify the game. With 18 seconds remaining in the period, Jamie Schaafsma lifted the puck over the sprawled out Jung for the 4-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
With just 5 seconds remaining on the major penalty, Ludwig scored his 2nd goal of the evening. From there, it became the Aaron Dell show to preserve the win. Unlike game 2 which saw a lopsided game and ultimately lead to 136 minutes of PIMS, tonight’s blow out was far calmer and no one was looking to get hurt and/or suspended.
Game 6 moves to Wichita and will be played on Friday night. Should the Thunder force a game 7, that is scheduled to drop the puck on the game at the Allen Event Center on Saturday evening.