With just three games left in the regular season for the Wichita Thunder, the team wanted to give their fans some exciting moments heading into the off-season, and Friday night’s contest was a great first step, as the Thunder scored three power-play goals and got 31 saves from Stuart Skinner on their way to a 4-0 victory over the Allen Americans. The combination of Stephen Iacobellis, Mark MacMillan, and Corey Kalk proved to be deadly as the trio combined to produce seven total points.
This was a tough battle through the first 15 minutes but, with 5:06 left in the frame, Corey Kalk would give the Wichita Thunder the lead. While on the power-play, Stephen Iacobellis retrieved the puck in the Allen end, wrapping it behind the net to Mark MacMillan. MacMillan waited for Kalk to head to the net, then made a perfect pass to the forward cruising down the slot. Kalk blasted the one timer by C.J. Motte for his 13th goal of the year.
The Thunder came out of the break with 59 seconds left on another power-play and it would take them just 15 seconds to capitalize. Iacobellis would pass the puck down the right boards to Kalk who was standing at the Americans blueline. He fed the puck to MacMillan as he crossed the line. MacMillan skating in about 15 feet from the net before firing a quick wrist shot that beat Motte over the blocker for his 19th goal of the year.
At 11:11, Wichita would score their third power-play goal on an absolutely beautiful set of passes. Iacobellis received the puck along the right boards, passing it to Kalk in the slot. Kalk quickly passed it down low to MacMillan who made a perfect pass to Ralph Cuddemi driving to the net. Cuddemi wristed the shot into the top corner for his 21st goal of the year to make it 3-0.
With 4:55 left in the game, the Wichita Thunder were back on the board. Ian Edmondson passed the puck down along the boards where MacMillan was able to fend off a defender to keep control. He passed it to Kalk who was about 10 feet to the left of Motte. Kalk fired the bad angle shot that somehow got through the pads of the Allen goaltender and in for his second goal of the game.
The Allen Americans were no match for the Stuart Skinner on this night. They had a couple of great opportunities, but the goaltender was absolutely brilliant, especially with his glove. He made four fantastic saves in this contest on low shots to his glove side.
The power-play was not the only special teams units playing well. The Allen Americans had four power-play opportunities but came away empty-handed every time. That included a 5-on-3 advantage in the third where Allen would have the two-man advantage for 1:28 but came away with just one shot. The defensive play of the penalty killing unit was unreal.
Mark MacMillan finished the contest with a goal and 3 assists while Corey Kalk had 2 goals and 2 assists. Stephen Iacobellis added 2 assists. Stuart Skinner finished the evening with 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
The Wichita Thunder will head to the ice on Saturday for their final home game of the 2018-19 season. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image by Ed Bailey