It was the penalty that couldn’t be killed. The power play that couldn’t be shut off.
The Thunder’s Alex Bourret drew a game misconduct penalty after a multi-player fight during Wichita’s game against Allen on Friday, ejecting him from the game and giving the Americans a man advantage for five minutes.
Allen was clinging to a one-goal lead but used those five minutes during the second period to bury the Thunder, scoring three goals during the power play and beating Wichita 6-2 at Intrust Bank Arena.
The scoring barrage followed two goals by the Thunder that put Allen’s once-significant lead — the Americans led 3-0 after the first period — in jeopardy. It also followed a fight that started between Bourret and Jim McKenzie that soon grew to include every player on the ice except for the goalies.
Bourret has drawn a game misconduct penalty in three straight games and he took over the Thunder lead by accumulating 17 penalty minutes on Friday. His absence eliminated Wichita’s chances of defeating a rival that it could see in the CHL playoffs, which begin next weekend.
"We were feeling the pressure," McKenzie said. "They came back and they scored those two quick goals and we kind of had to scramble a bit. You could feel the pressure on the bench. Then you get that power play, and guys can settle down and get their rhythm."
Allen scored three goals in the opening period against Bryan Hogan, who had lost one of his previous 11 starts since joining the Thunder in a January trade. Wichita rallied in the second, scoring two goals in 23 seconds.
That momentum was dashed, though, as soon as Bourret went for retaliation after being hit near the boards by McKenzie. Bourret charged at McKenzie but was taken down, and the one-on-one quickly became a scrum involving all parties.
Two players from each team were penalized, but Bourret’s major penalty for slashing kept Wichita a man short for five minutes. Allen took advantage, becoming the first team to score six goals against the Thunder this season.
Perhaps more troubling is Bourret’s recent penchant for being removed from games. The former NHL first-round pick has never been wary of involving himself physically, but his ejections show that he can cross the line at times.
"Maybe I was too much aggressive," Bourret said. "I have to be smarter a bit. Right now, these games mean nothing so it doesn’t matter much. But for the playoffs I need to be smarter than that. I can’t do that."
Bourret has totaled 70 penalty minutes during the last three games. He and Erick Lizon are Wichita’s two most physical players, but Bourret’s apparent eagerness to involve himself in altercations could make him a target for playoff teams looking to hurt the Thunder.