NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — The Wichita Thunder scored a power-play goal early in the second period and added scores late in the third period to defeat the Fort Worth Brahmas 3-0 at NYTEX Sports Centre on Thursday night.
The victory gives Wichita a 3-0 lead in in the teams’ best-of-seven second-round CHL playoff series, which resumes with Game 4 at NYTEX on Saturday night.
Heading into the game, Brahmas coach Dan WIldfong talked about how his team was playing well but not able to get the key breaks. That scenario played out Thursday as rebounds in or around the crease stayed just beyond the Brahmas’ reach.
Wichita outscored Fort Worth by 53 goals in the regular season, 240-187, but the Brahmas skated stride for stride with the Thunder through more than 2 ½ periods, surrendering only Matt Robinson’s power-play goal 18 seconds into the second period before third-period goals by Les Reaney at 6:41 and an empty-netter by Matt Summers with 2:18 left.
Fort Worth goalie Brad Fogal made 22 saves, few of them easy. With both teams boasting solid defenses, neither team found much room to work on offense. Still, the Thunder offense was patient, generating quality chances and forcing Fogal to work.
The second period was a progression of penalties, five in all, and Fogal was particularly sharp, stopping all 14 Wichita shots. His best save came nearly five minutes into the period when he threw his right pad out to seal the side of the net as Wichita’s Andrew Martens let a shot go.
With just over eight minutes gone in the period, Fort Worth defenseman Ross Rouleau got a shot from the point through traffic, but Thunder goalie Torrie Jung got his right pad out to deflect it to the corner.
Each team had a power play in the first period. Fort Worth failed to generate a threat on its advantage and Wichita’s came with only 17 seconds left. The Thunder needed only 18 seconds in the second period to score when Robinson took a pass at the blue line and buried a wrist shot over Fogal’s right shoulder from the low slot to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead.
Adam Hogg had two early chances for the Brahmas. Four minutes in, he nearly got to a rebound that squirted through the crease only minutes after making a one-on-one rush down the right wing and snapping a shot that Jung smothered, one of his 29 saves.
Notes — The team observed a moment of silence before the game in tribute to the victims of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and Wednesday’s explosion in West.… Fogal’s start was his first at home in the postseason and second in the playoffs. He took the loss in Game 2 at Wichita on April 11.… The Allen Americans lead their second-round series against Missouri 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night at Missouri.
First period — None. Penalties — Martens, Wichita (boarding), 6:52; Lutz, Wichita (roughing), 8:57; Nutkevitch, FW (cross checking), 8:57; Nutkevitch, FW (holding), 19:43.
Second period — 1, Wichita, Robinson (Flath, Young), :18 (pp). Penalties — Helmbrecht, FW (tripping), 3:38; Robinson, Wichita (high sticking), 3:52; Hanson, Wichita (cross checking), 8:55; Klempa, FW (tripping), 12:56; Fox, FW (high sticking), 16:08.
Third period — 2, Wichita, Reaney (Dummers, Griffith), 13:19. 3, Wichita, Summers, 17:42 (en). Penalties — Madden, Wichita (high sticking), 4:56; Hogg, FW (high sticking), 17:50.
Power plays — Wichita 1 for 5, Forth Worth 0 for 4.
Shots — Wichita 7-14-4—25, Fort Worth 12-12-5—29.
Goalies — Jung, Wichita, 29 shots-29 saves; Fogal, FW, 24-22.
T — 2:20. A — 1,484.