Buitenhuis, Thunder Blank Mavericks, 3-0
Evan Buitenhuis continues to impress in his short time in a Wichita Thunder uniform, outdueling Kansas City Mavericks star goaltender Matt Ginn on Sunday to lead Wichita past the Mavericks, 3-0. Buitenhuis stopped 30 shots to extend his scoreless string to 104 minutes. The Thunder move to 25-12-5 (.655) with the victory, tightening their second-place position in the Western Conference.
Kansas City controlled the action early on, but it would be the Thunder who would take the lead 6:20 into the contest. With the faceoff inside the Mavericks end, Anthony Beauregard won the draw back to Patrik Parkkonen, who fired a blast from the point that beat Ginn for his fourth goal of the year.
Buitenhuis was making that one-goal lead look a 20-goal advantage, stopping several good scoring opportunities. That included at 3:23 when a shot from the point was knocked down in front. The puck was loose in the crease and Lane Scheidl was able to get a point-blank shot on net that the Wichita netminder smothered.
Wichita extended their lead to two with just over six minutes left in the second. Stephen Johnson fed the puck to Brayden Watts in the neutral zone as the pair crossed the Kansas City blueline on a 2-on-1 break. Watts tried to go back to Johnson, but the puck deflected off the skate of a Mavericks defenseman. Matthieu Gagnon was trailing the play, and scooped up the loose puck, firing a wrist shot that beat Ginn to the glove side to put Wichita on top, 2-0.
Despite giving up the two goals, Ginn made several great saves of his own. That included stopping Beau Starrett on a breakaway with about 10 minutes left in the contest. About two minutes later, Johnson entered the Kansas City zone on a 2-on-1 break. He fired a pass across the slot to the back door to Petr Crinella who fired a one-timer. However, Ginn quickly slid over and made an acrobatic glove save to deny the chance.
With 1:54 left and the Mavericks on a power play, Kansas City pulled Ginn for the extra attacker, but they could not get the puck deep into the Thunder zone. That allowed Starrett to fire the puck from just inside his own end into the empty net for his eighth goal of the year. That made it 3-0, which would be the final.
The Mavericks did have two great scoring chances in the final minute, but Buitenhuis kept the puck out of the net each time. He finished with 12 saves in the third period and 30 overall. Buitenhuis moved to 2-1-0 since joining the Thunder and has allowed two goals over his last two starts.
The Wichita Thunder have four days off before heading to South Dakota to take on the Rapid City Rush for a two-game series starting on Friday. The puck drops at 8:05 Wichita time on Friday.
By Robert Pannier