NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — The Wichita Thunder broke a 1-1 tie in the third-period with an Ian Lowe goal and eliminated the Fort Worth Brahmas from the CHL playoffs with a 3-1 victory Saturday night at NYTEX Sports Centre.
The victory sends the Thunder to the CHL Finals for the second consecutive season.
The Thunder swept the best-of-seven series, the second consecutive playoff sweep for Wichita. The Thunder’s eight straight wins ties the CHL record for postseason winning streak.
Wichita will play the winner of the Allen-Missouri series in the Finals. Allen leads that series 3-2. Missouri stayed alive with an overtime win Saturday night in Independence, Mo. Game 6 of that series is Monday at Allen, Texas.
Lowe tipped in a puck as it dribbled through the crease on a power play, giving Wichita a 2-1 lead with 12:02 left. Chad Painchaud added a short-handed empty net goal with 3:34 left to give the Thunder breathing room.
Wichita quickly took advantage of the game’s first power play, scoring on its first shot. With Adam Hogg in the box for tripping, Andrew Martens fired a wrist shot from the right circle over Kristofer Westblom’s shoulder on a feed from Greger Hanson only 2:48 into the game.
Fort Worth celebrated a potential tying goal at the end of the first period, but officials ruled the tip-in by Colin Mulvey came after time had expired.
Wichita held the Brahmas scoreless for more than 5 ½ periods, dating back to a goal in the second period of Game 2, before Phil Fox tied the game at 1-1 only 12 seconds into the third period. Fox took a feed from Shawn Szydlowski, cruised through the slot and fired a wrister over the left shoulder of Wichita goalie Torrie Jung. The goal came with the teams skating 4-on-4.
The Brahmas stepped up the physical play from Game 3, making it more difficult for Wichita to get up the ice or gain any ground around the Fort Worth net.
In the second period, Westblom made a key stop, blocking a shot from the point by Wichita’s Travis Wight with his chest and covering the puck. The play came with the teams at 4-on-4 for the third time in the game.
Less than a minute later, the Brahmas had a 4-on-3 advantage for 22 seconds when Martens was whistled for slashing after splitting Tomas Klempa’s stick in two as he pursued the puck in the slot. Before the Thunder killed off that penalty, Hogg went to the box for tripping, with 51 seconds left in the second period. Just 44 seconds later, he was followed to the box by Wichita’s Hanson, who received a four-minute double minor for high sticking.
First Period – 1, Wichita, Martens (Hanson, Young) (pp), 2:48. Penalties — Hogg, FW, (tripping) 1:59; Griffith, W (tripping) 3:40; Young, W (roughting) 17:41; Rouleau, FW (roughing) 17:41.
Second Period — No goals. Penalties — Schneider, FW (interference) 4:22; Flath, W (roughting) 4:22; Reaney, W (elbowing) 15:07; Wild, FW (roughing) 15:07; Martens, W (slashing) 16:45; Hogg, FW (tripping) 19:09; Hanson, W (high Sticking) 19:53. .
Third Period — 2, Fort Worth, Fox ( Szydlowski, Lavender) :12. 3, Wichita, Lowe (Trimm, Inman) (pp) 7:58. 4, Wichita, Painchaud (unassisted) (sh) (empty net) 19:33. Penalties — Ross Rouleau, FW (cross checking); 6:53; Flath, W (cross checking) 12:12; Lutz, W (roughing) 18:48; Szydlowski, FW (misconduct) 19:33.
Power plays — Wichita 2-3; Fort Worth 0-6.
Shots — Wichita 11-8-5 — 24; Fort Worth 9-12-8 — 29.
Goalies — Wichita, Jung 29 shots, 28 saves; Fort Worth, Westblom 23-21.
T— 2:30. A — 1,861.