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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thunder takes 2-0 series lead over Texas Brahmas

Wichita takes 2-0 series lead in CHL playoff series with big second period.

By Jeffrey Lutz
The Wichita Eagle

Mercy for Texas was when the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period.

There were 20 minutes to go, but the Thunder had demoralized Texas to the point that it couldn’t have gotten much worse.

Wichita scored seven goals during the second period and threatened its franchise record for goals in a playoff game by whipping the Brahmas 8-1 at Intrust Bank Arena on Sunday. The Thunder lead the Berry Conference finals best-of-seven series 2-0; Game 3 is in North Richland Hills, near Dallas, on Wednesday.

The Thunder scored 10 goals in games during the 1994 and ’95 postseason, and each year it went on to win the CHL championship. Wichita, with the best record during the regular season, was a favorite to win its first title since then, and it cemented that status with its most overpowering performance of the playoffs.

It was the kind of win that can propel a team through the rest of a postseason series, energizing it as much as it deflates the victim.

"You don’t expect those kind of games to happen in the playoffs but sometimes they do," said Thunder forward Matt Robinson, who started Wichita’s scoring with a penalty shot in the first period.

"It’s good morale for the guys to get the energy up and confidence up. It’s good to go into Game 3 with that kind of confidence."

The law of averages helped Robinson and fellow forwards Aaron Davis and Thomas Beauregard emerge from relatively long periods without many goals. Wichita’s seven-goal period allowed many players to get involved in building that total, as five notched goals with Beauregard and Davis each scoring two.

Robinson’s first goal of the postseason came after he was hooked by TJ Fox on a charge toward the net, giving Robinson a penalty try. He converted it, tying it 1-1 in the first by using a move he has gone to in the past.

"The whole way going in I knew I was going five-hole," Robinson said of his shot between goalie Brad Fogal’s legs. "I usually do that move in the shootouts and it’s worked out well for me. It worked out again and got the team going."

Alex Bourret broke the tie with a short-handed goal early in the second. Davis, who before playing in the series opener had been out since March 2 with a lower-body injury, scored his first goal since February 29 to make it 3-1.

Beauregard scored the next two goals and the runaway was on. Beauregard, the team’s second-leading scorer during the regular season, had three goals during the final 24 games but has three in the postseason.

"They collapse the middle a lot, they clog the middle," Beauregard said. "There’s not much space against Texas and we know how they play, so tonight we tried as much as we can to shoot the puck to the net. Fortunately for us, a lot of them went in."

The Thunder was outshot 30-21 but rarely missed. The seven-goal attack in the second necessitated 12 shots, and the Thunder’s percentage for the first two periods combined was 44.4 (8 for 18).

Chris Greene and Matt Summers also scored in the second, sending Texas reeling. The Brahmas were impressive in defeating Allen in six games but they’ve looked ordinary for much of 120 minutes against Wichita.

Texas has scored first in both games, but that feat means little because Wichita has surrendered the first goal in all seven of its playoff games. Each time it charged back, but never like Sunday.

"We have a 2-0 lead so we’re just going to worry about that third game," Davis said. "If we get that third game then we have a good chance, but we’re not going to think ahead to the fourth game, fifth game. It’s hard to play down there, and we’re just going to come out like we tried to tonight."

Texas

1

0

0

1

Wichita

1

7

0

8

First period

Scoring—1. Texas, Hogg (Hellyer), 2:47; 2. Wichita, Robinson (penalty shot), 12:57. Penalties—Wichita, Greene (boarding), 8:16; Texas, Nutkevitch (roughing, delay of game), 10:27; Wichita, Bourret (roughing, delay of game), 10:27; Wichita, Greene (cross checking), 19:53.

Second period

Scoring—3. Wichita, Bourret SH (Mohr), 1:18; 4. Wichita, Davis (Robinson, Tetrault), 8:24; 5. Wichita, Beauregard (Bourret, Seibel), 12:08; 6. Wichita, Beauregard (Bourret, Greene); 7. Wichita, Davis (Chappell), 15:31; 8. Wichita, Summers (Greene), 17:19; 9. Wichita, Greene SH (Chappell, Seibel). Penalties—Texas, Barr (interference), 3:19; Wichita, Flath (interference), 18:26.

Third period

Scoring—None. Penalties—Texas, Spady (roughing), 3:17; Texas, Hand (fighting major), 5:56; Wichita, Sawyer (fighting major; aggressor, game misconduct), 5:56; Wichita, Lizon (fighting major; intervenor, game misconduct), 5:56; Texas, Hogg (slashing), 7:36; Wichita, Bourret (high sticking), 10:58; Texas, Hogg (roughing double minor), 16:01; Wichita, Mohr (roughing double minor), 16:01.

Power play—Texas 0 for 6, Wichita 0 for 2. Shots—Texas 13-10-7—30, Wichita 6-12-3—21. Saves—Texas, Fogal 6 saves, 9 shots, Guggenberger 7-12; Wichita, Russo 29-30.

T—2:24. A—4,099.

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