Four times the Idaho Steelheads found themselves trailing by a goal on Sunday, but each time they battled back to tie the score before Brad McClure won it with his 18th goal of the season. Steven McParland scored two goals, and three Steelheads players had two assists apiece as Idaho snapped the Wichita Thunder win steak at three with the 5-4 victory.
As they had the previous night, the Wichita Thunder would jump out to a lead in the first 3o seconds of the game. Jakob Stukel gained control of the puck near the corner. He passed to Pierre-Cedric Labrie who was moving down the slot area. Labrie fired a quick wrist shot that beat Colton Point to the far post for his 13th goal of the year.
Five minutes later the Idaho Steelheads would tie the score. The Steelheads headed into the Thunder end on a 3-on-2. Jeff King passed the puck ahead to Jeff King who dished it to Spencer Naas near the faceoff circle. He fired a wrist shot that beat Dylan Wells on the blocker side for his 11th goal of the year.
At the 10:53 mark the Thunder would retake the lead. Wichita was on the power-play, but the first minute looked quite sloppy as they were unable to enter the Idaho end. Finally, they were able to get their unit setup and would capitalize seconds later. Mark MacMillan passed the puck back to the point to Keoni Texeira. He fired a wrist shot that looked like it deflected off a defender and in to make it 2-1. For Texeira, it was his fifth goal of the year. The goal also gives him 21 power-play points, second most in the ECHL.
With 5:33 left in the period, A.J. White created a breakaway situation for himself, but Wells was able to kick the puck away. White corralled the puck out of the air, then made a great move that faked out the defender, sending him in alone on Wells. He stopped in front of the net, then went to his forehand, but Wells kicked the puck away to keep his team on top by one.
With three minutes left in the first, the Steelheads would tie the score. White passed the puck ahead to Steven McParland, who split between two Thunder defenders and in on Wells. He went between the legs of the Thunder goalie, beating him for his 16th goal of the year.
The Steelheads had dominated this contest, outshooting the Thunder 17-6 through the first period, and that continued into the second as the shots were 25-7 midway through the contest. However, it would be the Thunder that would take the lead at 9:28. Ralph Cuddemi passed the puck along the boards to Stukel, who led a 3-on-1 into the Idaho end. He opted to keep the puck, moving in and firing a wrist shot that beat Point for his ninth goal of the season and second point of the game.
The lead did not last long, however. Less than a minute later, Alexander Dahl passed the puck back to the point to Brady Norrish. Norrish moved within 20 feet of the goal, then fired a wrist shot that beat Ty Rimmer, who had replaced Wells to begin the period. That was his seventh goal of the season.
With three minutes left in the period, the Thunder were on a 5-on-3 power-play when Travis Brown would score his second goal in as many games. MacMillan passed the puck to the point to Brown, who fired a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of the Idaho goaltender and in for his 10th goal of the year. That was the fourth goal of the game for Wichita on just 13 shots.
The Steelheads had a golden chance with about seven minutes left in the second. With Wichita on a power-play, the Steelheads were able to knock the puck to center. Kyle Schempp outraced the Thunder defender to the puck, moving in on a breakaway, but Rimmer did not fall for the fake, kicking away the scoring chance.
The third period started with the Idaho Steelheads getting the quick goal, scoring 31 seconds into the frame. Keegan Kanzig’s shot was saved by Rimmer, but McParland was alone on the doorstep, putting in the rebound for his second goal of the game. That tied the score at four.
About three minutes later the Steelheads would use the power-play to take their first lead of the game. McClure came into the Wichita end flying, passing to White, who dealt the puck right back to McClure. He moved in alone, making a nice move before tucking the puck just underneath the cross bar for his 18th goal of the season. That gave Idaho a 5-4 lead on their first power-play goal of the game.
Mark MacMillan had two assists for the Thunder while Jakob Stukel had a goal and an assist. Steven McParland led the Idaho Steelheads with two goals and an assist. A.J. White, Elgin Pearce, and Alexander Dahl each had a pair of assists.
The Wichita Thunder will look to get back into the win column on Friday when they welcome the Utah Grizzlies for the first of two games. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier