The Wichita Thunder finally returned home after a tough road trip that saw the team go 1-4-0 during the trip. It was hoped that a good night’s sleep in their own beds and a little home cooking would be the remedy that would turn the team’s fortunes around, but that did not prove to be the case as the Tulsa Oilers would skate awake with the 4-2 victory. Garrett Ladd scored two goals and Jake Hildebrand had 24 saves in the victory.
It would not take long for Wichita to jump on top. At 4:17 of the first, Travis Brown fired a shot form the point that Jake Hildebrand saved, but Dyson Stevenson was Johnny on the spot to put the puck right back in for his sixth goal of the year.
A little over five minutes later, the Oilers tied the score. With the draw in the Thunder end, the puck went back to Steven Kaunisto who fired a shot that Charlie Sampair tipped under the glove of Wichita goalie Shane Starrett for his 11th goal of the year.
The Oilers were dominating play, outshooting Wichita 8-2 since the Thunder goal. That wound up paying off when Sampair shot the puck down low behind the Wichita net that came off the boards. Garrett Ladd made a great play to redirect the puck out of the air into the short side of the net for his fourth goal of the year to make it 2-1 Tulsa. The goal was the third game in a row where Ladd had scored.
It would stay that way until the second when Wichita would tie the score. While on the power-play, the red hot Jeremy Beaudry would blast in his fifth power-play goal of the season. Chad Butcher passed back to Beaudry at the point who blasted the puck past Hildebrand for his seventh goal of the year, tying the score at two. That came at 8:40 of the second, and was the third straight game with a goal for Beaudry.
With 12 minutes left in the second, Mike McKee was able to gain control on a turnover by the Thunder at the Oilers blueline. He entered in the Wichita zone on a breakaway, but Starrett made a nice pad save to deny him.
However, about 20 seconds later, the Oilers retook the lead. Dylan Hubbs fired a shot from the point that the Thunder goalie saved, but the puck came right out to Ladd who put the rebound in for his second goal of the game to make it a one goal Tulsa lead.
With 23 seconds left in the game, the Oilers would clinch it. With the Starrett on the bench for the extra attacker, Vladimir Nikiforov gained control of the puck in the neutral zone and passed the puck to Kale Kessey who was streaking down the center of the ice alone. He buried the empty netter, his fifth of the season to make it 4-2, which would be the final.
The loss was the fifth for the Thunder in their last six. Travis Brown added 2 assists for the Thunder. Shane Starrett made 36 saves in a losing effort. Garrett Ladd had 2 goals for Tulsa and Charlie Sampair had a goal and an assist. Jake Hildebrand made 24 saves.
The next game for the Wichita Thunder will be Friday night when the Thunder welcome the Kansas City Mavericks to town. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier