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Rolling Thunder: Openin’ in Allen

Last week, the Thunder opened the 2021-22 slate with two games in under 24 hours against the Allen Americans.

Photo Courtesy: Allen Americans

Rolling Thunder: Openin’ in Allen

WICHITA, Kan. – Welcome back to Rolling Thunder, our weekly look back at the week-that-was for the Wichita Thunder. Last week, the Thunder opened the 2021-22 slate with two games in under 24 hours against the Allen Americans.

The Past Week:

Two games against Allen (1-1-0-0; 2 of 4 possible points gained)

  • Saturday, October 23, 2021 – The Thunder got the 2021-22 season off to a great start, scoring goals at even strength, on the power-play, and penalty kill as they handed the Americans their worst home-opening loss in franchise history, 7-0. Matteo Gennaro collected four helpers on the night, with Brayden Watts piling up four points (1G, 3A), and Stephen Johnson snagging three (2G, 1A). Netminder Evan Buitenhuis picked up where he left off last season, stopping all 30 shots he faced to pick up his fourth shutout in a Thunder uniform.
  • Sunday, October 24, 2021 – In a game that was much more representative of the Allen/Wichita rivalry, the back-and-forth affair ended with Allen on top, doubling up the Thunder 6-3. Gennaro, rookie Andrew Shewfelt, and Peter Crinella provided the offense for the Thunder. Similar to the night before, special teams were the difference in this one, as Allen outscored Wichita 3-0 in that category. Buitenhuis stopped 30 of 35 shots in the losing effort.

The Pros:

  • The Credit Union of Texas Event Center (formerly Allen Event Center) has been a ridiculously hard place for the Thunder to win in, so splitting the weekend is a solid result as the team heads home for a pair of games this weekend
  • The core group for Wichita – Gennaro, Watts, Stephen Johnson, Jay Dickman, etc. – were the leaders offensively this weekend. Regardless of who comes into the lineup from Bakersfield, this group will have to be on most nights for the team to have success this season.
  • Wichita is a speedy team, which will play havoc with many teams’ strategies against the Thunder this season
  • Evan Buitenhuis…need I say more?
  • Wichita is now 15-13-2 when opening up the season on the road and 17-10-3 all-time on Opening Night

The Cons:

  • One of the few cons on the weekend: Wichita allowed two power-play goals in ten times shorthanded
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same: Wichita allowed 30 shots or more in both games over the weekend

The Stats:

  • Goals: Crinella, S. Johnson, Shewfelt – 2 each
  • Assists: Gennaro – 4
  • Points: Gennaro – 5
  • Plus/Minus: Nick Minerva and Watts – +3 each
  • PIMs: Minerva, Alex Peters, and Garrett Schmitz – 7 each
  • Rookie Scoring Leader: Shewfelt – 2 pts (2G)
  • Goalies:
    • Evan Buitenhuis: 1-1-0-0, 2.51 GAA, .923 sv%, 1 SO

The Coming Week:

Into the Bears’ Cage:

The new-look Utah Grizzlies come into INTRUST Bank Arena to open the Thunder’s home slate on Friday night. The Grizzlies have gone through a pretty significant change in the last month-plus, losing long-time head coach Tim Branham to the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. Last season, the Thunder went 7-2-0-0 against the Grizzlies, with Anthony Beauregard leading the way with eight points (3G, 5A) in nine games against the Grizz. This season, Wichita will play five games against Utah, with just one of them coming within the confines of INTRUST Bank Arena.

Big Wheel Keeps on Turnin’:

For the first time in what feels like forever, there will be a new team coming into INTRUST Bank Arena Saturday night, when the Wheeling Nailers come to town. In their first-ever meeting last season, the Thunder won two of three games at WesBanco Arena. Again, Beauregard led the Thunder offensively, with seven points (2G, 5A). Buitenhuis did not make a start against the Nailers last season. This will be the only meeting between these two clubs this season.

Can’t Make it to the Arena?

Friday and Saturday night’s games are scheduled for a 7:05 pm puck drop. Get your game night started with The Field Pass Hockey Pregame Show, starting at 6:30 pm both nights on the Field Pass Hockey app.

You can listen to every Wichita Thunder game this season on the Field Pass Hockey app.

Around the ECHL:

  • Trois-Rivieres crosses the border for the first time to take on the Maine Mariners
  • Rapid City travels to Boise, looking to cool off the Steelheads
  • South Carolina and Greenville continue to build their rivalry off last year’s Eastern Conference Final, meeting again for the second-straight weekend.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2021 season!

    Matthew Harding is the Managing Editor for Field Pass Hockey, covers the ECHL and the Wichita Thunder. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHThunder.

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