It has seemed like a long time since the Wichita Thunder notched a win, exactly one month in fact. The team has struggled since its last victory, a 5-1 win over Allen on January 22, but this was a night for a lot of new things and for one “old” to help the team to break its slump and send it to the 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones in the Thunder’s first visit to the city. The victory was led by rookie Blake Tatchell, who recorded 2-goals and added an assist to help the team end their 13-game losing streak.
This was a game that had the Wichita Thunder in the driver’s seat from early on in the game. Just 36-seconds into the contest, rookie Gerrad Grant won the faceoff in the Cyclones end. The puck was loose behind him, when veteran Ian Lowe scooped the puck onto his stick and fired a shot past Michael Houser for the goal to make it 1-0. That was Lowe’s sixth goal of the season.
At the 15:57 mark the Cyclones tied the score. Shane Walsh stole the puck at the Thunder blue line and skated in on Wichita goalie Scott Greenham, beating him to the short side with a wrist shot that tied the score. That was Walsh’s 15th goal of the year.
From there, it was all Wichita Thunder. They would retake the lead to start the second period on a brilliant play by Matt DeBlouw. Just 12-seconds into the second, James Melindy fired the puck behind the Cincinnati goal. Blake Tatchell gained control of the puck and passed it to DeBlouw who was standing at the side of the net. He made a brilliant move, quickly moving across the crease with the puck on his backhand, until he had the goalie out of position and netted his 12th goal of the season.
At the nine-minute mark, Tatchell extended the Thunder’s lead. Alex Vanier fired a shot from the point that Houser saved, but the rebound went to the other side of the net where the rookie put it in for his seventh goal of the season.
Up by two, the Thunder put this game away in the third. At the 7:33 mark, it was Tatchell again. This time he gained control of the puck in the neutral zone and put on a burst of speed into the Cyclones end. When he was about five feet out, he put a great fake on the goalie that got Houser down the ice. Tatchell then pulled the puck back and tucked it into the net for his second goal of the evening to extend the lead to three.
With 1:09 left in the game, second year man Ryan Tesink sealed the victory with an empty-net goal. He was able to steal the puck in the neutral zone and then put a back-hander from center ice into the net for his third goal of the season.
After the game, Coach Malcolm Cameron was quite pleased with his team’s performance. “That was the most complete hockey game we have played since early on this season. We played much better in our own end, holding a team that came in red hot at 8-2 over their last ten games to just 20-shots. That was a complete effort for sure.”
He also was pleased with how three call-ups from the Southern Professional Hockey League, Maxime St. Cyr, Brad Cuzner, and Mike Moran, played. “We have three guys who have been called up in the last week from the Southern Hockey League who are playing extremely well and earning minutes. Brad Cuzner arrived just three hours before the game and played outstanding.”
The Wichita Thunder were led by Blake Tatchell, who scored 2-goals and added an assist. Matt DeBlouw added a goal and an assist and Scott Greenham looked extremely sharp in net, saving 19-shots.
These two teams will go at it again on Friday night. The puck drops at 7:35 ET.
By Robert Pannier