BRAMPTON, Ontario. – In it’s first-ever trip north of the border, Wichita (21-21-4) got past the Brampton Beast (23-20-5) on Valentine’s Day with a 4-3 shootout victory at the Powerade Center. Ian Lowe scored the game-winner in the bottom half of round six to solidify the extra point for the Thunder, who remain three points back of Tulsa and Arizona for eighth place. The Thunder get back to .500 with the win and are 2-2-0 against Brampton in the season-series.
The two teams began the game with a physical presence. Brampton came out firing the puck on net and led early in the shot department, 10-2 at one point. Ahmed Mahfouz got the Beast on the board after he got to a rebound at the left side of David Brown’s net and put it home in his debut for Brampton. Wichita turned the tide and got one back with just over five minutes left. Tomas Klempa stole a puck in front of the Brampton bench, came into the zone on a three-on-one and would eventually feed it across to RG Flath who tied it at 14:34.
At the start of the second, Brampton re-gained the lead as Josh McQuade caught a pass at the right post from Calin Wid and scored to make it 2-1 at 4:53. Wichita answered six minutes later when Erick Lizon scored his third of the season at 10:50 to tie the game at two. Nick McParland intercepted a pass at the Brampton line on the penalty box side of the ice, gave it to Jason Wilson down the left wing and found Lizon at the right side of the net. Wichita received three-straight power plays and had a two-man advantage late in the frame. The Beast didn’t allow a lot of shots on Kristopher Westblom during the five-on-three, but Jesse Dudas powered one into the back of the net just as Tylor Michel was coming out of the box and gave Wichita a 3-2 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
In the third, Brampton benefited from two power plays as Garrett Gruenke was called for a high stick at 7:18. Right as he was coming out of the box, Scott Howes caught a piece of a Steve Makway shot and tipped it past Brown to tie the game. The second penalty occurred at 13:05 on Mike Wilson, but Wichita was able to fend off the Brampton charge. The Thunder out-shot the Beast 10-6 in the third, but couldn’t get another past Westblom as the game entered extra time tied at three.
Both teams had chances in a wide-open overtime session. Wichita was credited with three shots in the extra period and almost ended it when Andrew Martens tried to dish it off to Flath in the slot. The puck was deflected away at the last second, not allowing him to get a chance on goal. The period came to an end and we headed to the shootout.
The first two shooters for each team in round one were unsuccessful as Matt Robinson and Howes were both stopped. Jason Pitton couldn’t get one past Brown at the start of round two. Matt Summers went next and beat Westblom over the glove to make it 1-0. At the top of round three, Andrew Fournier tied it beating Brown as he tried to go for the poke check.
Jon Booras was unable to unable to find the net in the bottom of the round and the shootout remained tied. The next four shooters were unsuccessful as Klempa and Flath were both stopped for the Thunder while Brown denied Matt Caruana and Brett Smith. Josh McQuade had a chance at the top of round six, but his wrist shot clanked off the left post. Lowe then beat Westblom to the blocker side, making it 2-1 in the shootout and a 4-3 Wichita victory.
Wichita has won its last five shootouts and is now 5-1 in games decided by penalty shots. The Thunder out-shot Brampton 21-12 in the final 40 minutes of the contest. Lowe collects his second game-winner of the season on his first shootout attempt of year. Dudas recorded his eighth power play goal of the season, moving into a sixth place tie in that category. Flath recorded his 16th of the season and needs four more to reach 20 goals in three-straight seasons. Brown wins for the eighth time in his last 10 starts, stopping 27 of 30 shots. Westblom suffers his fifth overtime loss, stopping 34 of 37 shots.
Wichita went 1-for-3 on the power play. Brampton was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Wichita has the day off Saturday before returning to action on Sunday afternoon against the Beast at 1 p.m. central time. The Thunder return home on Friday, February 21st against the Allen Americans at 7:05 p.m.
With Wichita Thunder team release
Contact the photographer: Ed.Bailey@prohockeynews.com