North Richland, TX (April 20th) - During this post-season run, Wichita (8-0) has been dominant in the third period and that played out in Game 4. Ian Lowe broke a tie game in the final frame with a power play goal and Chad Painchaud iced it with an empty-netter to give the Thunder a 3-1 win and sweep of the Fort Worth Brahmas (4-5) on Saturday night at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The Thunder ties a league-high eight-straight wins, earning sweeps in both of its playoff series and advances to its second-straight CHL Finals.
Wichita came out and tried to dictate the pace in the first period. The Thunder forecheck was able to draw a penalty and Wichita struck first just under three minutes into the game. Andrew Martens came in on the rush, stepped through two defenders and snapped a wrist shot over the blocker of Kristofer Westblom to grab a 1-0 lead. The Brahmas kept pushing down the stretch of the opening 20 minutes and thought they had tied the game late in the period. A turnover at the Thunder blue line led to a chance when Colin Mulvey fired a shot on net and the ensuing scrum in front of Torrie Jung's net. As the puck was put over the goal line, the horn had sounded and the referee waved off the goal.
Fort Worth picked up the pace in the second period and had several quality scoring chances that went for not. Tomas Klempa stole the puck at the Thunder line, fed it over to Phil Fox who tried to beat Jung over the blocker, but he was able to come across and stop him with his blocker. The two teams were unable to find the back of the net in the second, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
12 seconds into the third period, Fox tied the game at one with a wrist shot from the right circle that stopped Jung's shutout streak at just over 100 minutes. Wichita's power play continued to stay hot as Lowe converted eight minutes into the third to re-gain the lead for good with a rebound goal to make it 2-1. Down the stretch, Fort Worth pressed to try to get the equalizer engaging defenders into the play. The Brahmas were awarded a late power play, but Painchaud sent a shot from between the circles down the length of the ice and into the empty-net to give the Thunder a 3-1 victory.
Wichita earns its third sweep in franchise history with the win tonight and has defeated the Brahmas for the second-straight year to reach the CHL Finals. Wichita has outscored its opponent in the third period 10-5 adding two more tonight. Lowe recorded his third goal of the playoffs, all of which have been on the man advantage. Martens recorded his first tally of the playoffs while Kevin Young and Greger Hanson added assists. Jung won for the eighth time this post-season, stopping 28 of 29 shots. Westblom took the loss, stopping 21 of 23 shots he faced.
Wichita went 2-for-3 on the power play while Fort Worth was 0-for-6 and finished 0-for-10 in the two games at NYTEX in the series.
CHL Conference Semi-Finals – Series "F" (best-of-7)
Fort Worth Brahmas vs. Wichita Thunder
Game 1 – Wednesday, April 10th – Fort Worth at Wichita, 4-1 W
Game 2 – Thursday, April 11th – Fort Worth at Wichita, 4-3 W
Game 3 – Thursday, April 18th – Wichita at Fort Worth, 3-0 W
Game 4 – Saturday, April 20th – Wichita at Fort Worth, 3-1 W
Thunder wins series 4-0
Wichita will await its opponent for the Finals as Allen leads its series against Missouri three games to two with Game 6 taking place on Monday night. Stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter and the Thunder website for details on the schedule for the CHL Finals that will be released sometime next week. For tickets, call 755-SEAT, visit the INTRUST Bank Arena box office or online at www.selectaseat.com .
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