For approximately 8 minutes of the first period, it looks like the Allen Americans solved whatever ailed them in their previous series openers against the Denver Cutthroats and Missouri Mavericks. Allen came out and with a patient deliberate tone, made sharp passes and even found the post twice behind Wichita’s goalie, Torrie Jung. Even the officiating, using two officials for the first time this post season, appeared to be setting a tone that the players were going to dictate the pace on the ice.
However, at the 12:26 mark, Kale Kerbashian was called for charging the goaltender and from there, a new tone was filling the Allen Event Center. After the whistle, Kerbashian was tackled and took several shots from opposing Thunder players who took exception at his close play around the crease. Kale was the only penalty to come out of the scrum, and even though Allen would successfully kill off the penalty, you could sense that Wichita knew what they had to do.
Just two minutes later in the American’s end, Todd Griffith camped in front of Allen netminder, Aaron Dell and as the puck arrived at the net from a shot by Matt Summers, Corbin Baldwin for Allen shoved Griffith into Dell and the puck caromed off Griffith giving Wichita the first lead of the evening. By the end of the first, Wichita had outshot Allen, 12-5 and was 0-2 on the power play.
The middle frame began up-tempo and seemed to favor Allen as it appeared as if they tied the game up but the goal was immediately waived off by one of the officials as the puck was determined to have been kicked into the net. The ensuing faceoff was won by the Thunder and Griffith, who hadn’t scored the entire playoffs, took the puck down and buried the puck past Dell for his second goal of the evening.
It didn’t take long after falling behind by two goals for Allen to resort to their game one habits of trying to look for that homerun pass or shot. Allen, at times, looked like they were playing their first game together and it was the first game of the preseason as opposed to the first game of the league finals. There was no anticipation and no chemistry on the ice. Turnovers took over as much of the 2nd period was spent in the Allen end of the ice.
Gregor Hanson looked to have an opportune chance to put the game away late in the 2nd as he took an open ice pass into the Allen zone all alone, but the large frame of Aaron Dell challenged Hanson, forcing the shot to travel high above Dell’s blocker shoulder and the crossbar. As the 2nd period ended, Wichita held on to the shot lead, but Allen closed the gap, 19-14 but there was little doubt, it was extremely unlikely that Wichita was going to blow a 2-goal lead.
The 3rd period began to show signs that this was going to be a hard fought series as the hits began picking up and the player “meetings” began to last a little longer on the ice after the whistles blew play dead. The two referee system began to pay off at the 4:05 mark when Les Reaney apparently forgot there was a 2nd official calling penalties. From the back of the Allen net, Reaney took a shot to the back of his head as he was getting up off the ice. In frustration, he slashed back at the American defenseman and was immediately called for the infraction. The reaction from Reaney was nothing short of “what are you doing back there.” Just 13 seconds later, Trevor Ludwig made it a one-goal game as he took a perfect pass from Todd Robinson through the crease and he one-timed it into the Thunder net. However, 23 seconds later, Wichita took its 2-goal lead back when RG Flath scored unassisted as he fired a slapshot from the high slot and the puck appeared to ricochet of Dell’s mask and just under the cross bar.
Allen would go on to drop game one to Wichita, 4-1 when Chad Painchaud knocked the water bottle off the net with a top shelf riser to take the Finals lead, 1-0. Allen has dropped game one of each of their playoff series this post season, only to rebound and completely dominate the 2nd games. Game 2 will take place at the Allen Event Center on Thursday, May 2nd at 7:05 PM.