Allen, Texas — Even before Allen began a five-minute power play near the end of the second period against the Thunder on Tuesday, Wichita seemed powerless to stop the momentum the Americans built by scoring three goals in seven minutes.
When Thunder forward Les Reaney went to the penalty box for a boarding major with about three minutes left in the third, all signs pointed to Allen staying hot and building on its lead.
A manageable two-goal deficit for Wichita became a four-goal lead for the Americans, who scored twice during the power play and turned Game 5 of the Central Hockey League finals into a 5-1 runaway victory at the Allen Event Center.
Allen leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can close out a championship by winning Friday night in Wichita. The Thunder needs a win to force Game 7, which would be played Saturday night in Allen.
"We just dont have the killer instinct right now," Reaney said. "Weve scored the first goal two games in a row. At home, (if) we get that second one, I think we put it away. Were just not getting into those tough areas, and thats all there is to it."
In a Game 4 loss at home, the Thunder took an 1-0 lead and seemed on the verge of scoring again before Allen tied it in the second period and won 2-1 thanks to a goal early in the third.
Tuesdays game similarly hung in the balance after Allen tied it 1-1 early in the second. The Americans stretches of success and Wichitas lulls have rarely lasted long during the series, but Allen seemed to seize on a lack of energy by the Thunder in the second period.
Wichita has often responded well to pivotal moments during the series, but that wasnt the case in Game 5. Allen quickly turned a tie game into a two-goal lead, scoring twice more within about three minutes and seemingly demoralizing the Thunder.
"They were getting a little bit frustrated," Allen goalie Aaron Dell said. "You could see it in their game, they were getting mad at each other. When you do that, you kind of fall apart a bit. We expect a stronger game next time, for sure. The series isnt over yet."
For Wichita to win the next two games and capture the championship, emotional adjustments appear necessary. The Thunder hasnt been the same enthusiastic team that controlled much of the first three games since losing the lead at home in Game 4 on Sunday.
Even Wichitas goal offered evidence of a mentally fatigued team. Wichita had its own five-minute power play after a boarding call against Allen in the first, but the Thunder could hardly sustain a consistent attack with a one-man advantage.
The Americans cleared the puck numerous times without Wichita getting a shot. The Thunder finally solved those problems with an Andrew Martens goal late in the power play, but Wichita couldnt build on it.
The Thunder survived the first period because Allen got three shots, two coming in a late power play. But once the Americans became more aggressive and turned their physical play into a tangible advantage, Wichita couldnt stop them.
"Its a seven-game series," Thunder coach Kevin McClelland said. "This is the first time weve been behind in a series, now weve got to go home and take advantage of our home ice and take our chances in Game 7. But we need some guys to step up. Our scorers have to be scorers, and we cant be going dry through the finals."
Neil Trimm, Wichitas leading scorer during the regular season, has managed just an assist during the finals. Matt Robinson hasnt notched a goal during the series, Ian Lowe has one and Chad Painchaud doesnt have a multi-point game.
Meanwhile, Allen is winning without one of its best scorers, defenseman Trevor Ludwig, who was injured in Game 3. The Americans won Game 4 without forward Darryl Bootland, who was suspended. Wichitas last five periods havent matched up with previous performance, where mistakes were quickly corrected.
"Thats what were trying to figure out ourselves," Reaney said. "Its tough. Everybodys got to bring what theyve got. You cant rely on one or two guys. Its a team game, and thats what we need 20 guys. Youve just got to put it behind you and come to work Friday."
Scoring1. Wichita, Martens PP (Young, Painchaud), 10:57. PenaltiesAllen, Kerbashian (boarding major), 6:59; Allen, McKenzie (boarding), 12:55; Wichita, Reaney (too many men bench minor), 16:43.
Scoring2. Allen, Robinson (Berube), 0:49; 3. Allen, McKenzie (Montgomery, Dell), 3:24; 4. Allen, Ty. Ludwig (Robinson, Bootland), 6:35; 5. Allen, Schaafsma PP (Robinson, McKenzie). PenaltiesAllen, Maiani (hooking), 8:46; Wichita, Reaney (boarding major), 17:05.
ScoringAllen, Ty. Ludwig PP (Deitsch, Schaafsma), 2:00. PenaltiesAllen, Baldwin (tripping), 8:08.
Power playWichita 1 for 5, Allen 2 for 4. ShotsWichita 7-7-1327, Allen 3-12-722. SavesWichita, Jung 11 on 15 shots, Regan 6 on 7 shots; Allen, Dell 26 on 27 shots.