Fournier Two-Goal Game Spurs Thunder to Victory, 4-3
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Stefan Fournier scored two goals, including the game-winner as the Wichita Thunder defeated the Indy Fuel on Saturday, 4-3. Wichita scored three times on the power-play to help spur the team to victory. Jay Dickman and Michal Stinil each had two assists and Jake Theut was solid between the pipes, stopping 35 shots.
This was an exciting first period that saw Wichita outshoot Indy 15-11. However, neither team was able to light the lamp. However, the second period saw a lot of fireworks, as each team scored three times in the frame.
Playing in his 400 professional game, Fournier put the Thunder on top 5:21 into the second period with his fifth goal of the season. With the Thunder on the power-play, Stinil passed the puck to Fournier at the far post, who put it past Feel netminder Mitch Gillam to make a 1-0.
The Fuel responded with back-to-back goals, 1:31 apart. At 6:02, Wichita was trying to clear the puck out of their end along the boards when C.J. Eick intercepted the attempt, passing it to Spencer Watson. He moved in along the goal line, trying to stuff the puck past Theut, but his initial shot was stopped. Unfortunately for Theut, the puck deflected up into the air where Watson was able to swat it in for his 21st tally of the year.
Jan Mandát gave his team to lead with his 13th goal of the year. Keoni Texeira took a shot from the point that was stopped by Theut, but Mandát corralled the rebound and put it in to give his team a 2-1 advantage.
Carter Johnson tied the score at the 11:56 mark, netting the second power-play goal of the contest for the Thunder. Dickman had the puck, moving toward the Fuel net on a rush. As he approached the net, he passed it back into the slot to Johnson in the slot, who buried a one-timer for his 15th goal of the year.
The Thunder were not done, as Billy Exell gave his team back the lead 33 seconds later. Logan Fredericks made a spectacular pass from the boards across the slot to Exell, who was able to make a perfect redirection past Gillam for his sixth goal of the year.
The lead did not last long, however, as Seamus Malone netted a power-play goal three minutes later. After a save by Theut on a shot by Watson, a mad scramble ensued to gain control the puck in the crease. Malone was able to get enough of his stick on the puck to push it past the Wichita netminder as Theut was being knocked down to tie the score at three.
The Thunder had outshot the Fuel through the first two periods, 30-23. However, Indy dominated the final frame, outshooting Wichita, 15-8. Theut was the difference, stopping all 15 shots he faced in the frame and finishing with 35 saves overall, moving to 7-5-2 while lowering his goals-against average to 3.33.
The spectacular play of Theut proved to be huge as Fournier gave his team the lead for good at 5:29, scoring the third power-play goal of the night for Wichita. Indy looked like they would clear the puck out of their zone, but Stinil made a great play to keep it in. He then knocked the puck towards Peter Crinella who passed the puck to Fournier near the front of the net. Fournier Lifted a wrist shot past Gillam for his second goal of the contest.
The Fuel feverishly battled over the remainder of the period, trying to get the equalizer. That included pulling their netminder with about two minutes left in the contest and Wichita killing off a penalty. However, the Fuel could only muster one shot on Theut in the final two minutes as the Thunder preserved the 4-3 victory.
The Wichita Thunder (23-23-7) stay in sixth place in the Mountain Division, tied with the Allen Americans who also have a .500 winning percentage. Allen has four games in hand, however. The Thunder are off until Tuesday when they travel to Kansas City to take on the Mavericks (24-25-3). The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier