Fournier Remains Red-Hot, Delivers Game-Winner in Thunder Victory
WICHITA, KS – Stefan Fournier scored his fourth goal of the season, delivering a power-play, game-winner 1:26 into overtime to give the Wichita Thunder a 4-3 victory over the Tulsa Oilers. The victory was revenge for a 4-1 victory by the Oilers the previous night. Peter Bates had the first two goal performance of his professional career and Logan Fredericks and Billy Constantinou each had two assists.
Wichita jumped out in front 5:28 into the contest thanks to a power-play goal by Dylan MacPherson. MacPherson carried the puck out of the Wichita end and through the neutral zone, bursting into the Tulsa end. As he crossed the blueline, he dropped the puck back to Fournier, who pushed it ahead to McPherson. He moved in on Daniel Mannella, beating him with a wrist shot just inside the post to make it 1-0. It was the first goal of the season for MacPherson.
That lead held through the first frame, as Wichita netminder Strauss Mann stopped all 11 shots he faced. In the second, the Oilers tied the score just before the two-minute mark. Andrew Jarvis took a shot from the point that Ethan Stewart tipped past Mann first goal of the year.
The score remained tied for almost 10 minutes before Bates scored his first goal of the night. MacPherson fired a shot that missed the net, bouncing off the boards to Bates who lifted a wrist shot past Mannella for his second goal of the season.
As they had in the first intermission, the Thunder held the lead by a goal heading to the second. It looked like they would skate away with a one goal advantage, but the Oilers tied the score with a power-play goal at 11:33. The goal was nearly a carbon copy of the first as Jarvis took a shot from the point that Michael Farren redirected by Mann to tie the score at two.
The game remained tied for just three minutes before Bates scored his second goal of the night. Tulsa attempted to clear the puck out of their own end, but Constantinou was able to keep the zone, taking a shot that hit a player in front and bounced into the air. Bates was able to recover the loose puck, sliding it past Mannella for his third goal of the year.
With a little under a minute left in the contest, Tulsa pulled Mannella for the extra attacker, trying to find the tying goal. The move worked to perfection as Jarvis passed the puck to Eddie Matsushima at the right face-off circle, who blasted a one-timer by Mann to tie the score at three with just 38 seconds left in the game.
It was a startling turn of events, but Wichita earned an advantage when Mike McKee was called for holding as time expired. That gave the Thunder the power-play to start the extra session, and Fournier made them pay 1:26 into overtime. Constantinou took a shot that deflected off Fournier’w skate and past Mannella with the game-winner, his fourth goal of the season.
The victory moved the Wichita Thunder to 4-2-1, three points behind Idaho for the top record in the Mountain Division. The team will look to keep the momentum going as they travel to Tulsa on Friday to take on the Oilers. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier