The Wichita Thunder showed a lot of heart Sunday evening, falling behind 3-0, before battling back to tie the score. However, after tying the game at four, the Quad City Mallards got a goal from Andrew Panzarella with a little over six minutes left to down the Thunder 6-4. That continues Wichita’s slide, which has now seen them win just once in their last 17 games (1-14-2).
Wichita Thunder goalie Drew Owsley would give up five goals on the night, but he was not the fault of the majority of those goals. In fact, the Wichita goalie was brilliant for the most part, making several spectacular saves to keep the Thunder in this game.
At the 11:46 mark of the first period, the Mallards would jump out in front. Justin Kovacs had the puck near the right boards and fired a pass across to Guillaume Gelinas who was alone at the corner of the net. He simply redirected the puck into the net for his fifth goal of the season.
Three minutes later it looked like Quad City would extend their lead when Chris Francis made a beautiful tip on a pass, but Owsley flat out stoned him with a kick save to keep it 1-0.
With slightly less than two minutes left in the period, Kovacs would extend the lead. While on the power-play, Gelinas passed the puck down to the corner of the Wichita end. Josh MacDonald then made a brilliant pass across the crease to Kovacs who redirected the puck into the net for his 13th goal of the year.
Into the second period the game would go where Francis extended the lead to three just 2:39 into the frame. With the Mallards on a 5-on-3 power-play, Alexander Kuqali fired a shot from the point that was saved, but Chris Francis put the rebound back in to make it 3-0.
The Thunder could very well have folded, but Maxime St-Cyr gave them life when he scored just 32-seconds later. Vincent Dunn fired the puck on net, and St-Cyr tipped it in for his sixth goal of the season.
The goal got the Thunder moving and before the second period would end they would tie the score. At 10:27, Ryan Tesink passed the puck to James Melindy at the point, who fired a wrist show by C.J. Motte for his third goal of the year.
At 15:39 it looked like Quad City would extend their lead back to two when Michael Parks took the puck from the left faceoff circle behind the net, swooped out on the right side and then came across the slot before returning near the left faceoff circle. He then fired a wrist shot that looked like it went in. The light came on, but the referee waived it off, as the puck never crossed the goal line.
A little over two minutes later the Thunder would tie the score. With the team playing 4-on-4 hockey, Brandon Carlson fired a shot that Motte saved, but Darryl Lloyd put the rebound in for his first goal since joining Wichita.
The Thunder were on fire, but it would be the Mallards that would be flying high in the third. Just 36 seconds into the period it looked like Quad City would retake the lead when Adam Gilmour was left standing alone in front of the net when he received the pass. He made a shot looking for the far post, but Owsley made a great kick save to keep the game tied.
About four minutes later Quad City would retake the lead. Francis fired a shot on net that Owsley saved, but no one was there to keep Grant Arnold from getting the rebound and he put the puck in for his sixth goal of the year.
Three minutes later the Thunder would tie the score again. Maxime St-Cyr and Blake Tatchell entered the Quad City end on a 2-on-1 break with St. Cyr carrying the puck. He passed across to Tatchell, who flat out buried the puck in the back of the net for his ninth goal of the year.
What looked like a blow out early turned into an exciting hockey game, and it would get even more exciting when Andrew Panzarella lit the lamp six minutes after Wichita had tied the score, giving the Mallards the lead for good. Panzarella gained control of the puck near center ice and carried it into the Wichita end down the boards. He then took a bad angle shot that went over Owsley’s shoulder for his sixth goal of the year.
With 1:15 left in the game, Gilmour added a short-handed, empty-net goal to clinch the victory.
While taking the loss, no one can fault Drew Owsley for his performance on this night. The Thunder goalie faced 24-shots in the third period and 49 for the game. Maxime St-Cyr added a goal and an assist, and Louick Marcotte had 2-assists for the Thunder. Three players had a goal and an assist for the Quad City Mallards, including Guillaume Gelinas, Justin Kovacs, and Chris Francis.
The Wichita Thunder return home where they will have four days off before the Tulsa Oilers come to town for two games on Friday and Saturday. Both games start at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier