James Melindy Gives Wichita Thunder Overtime Victory, 3-2
For Wichita Thunder fans, it may seem like it has been weeks since the team won its last game, and that would be a fairly accurate reality. That last time the Thunder were in the win column was November 18, when they defeated the Alaska Aces 5-1. Since then, the team has gone 0-4-0-1 to drop from 7-3 to 7-7-0-1. The team was in need of a real boost, and they got it when James Melindy delivered his second goal of the season in overtime to complete the comeback win over the Rapid City Rush, 3-2.
It looked like it would be a tough night for Wichita when the Rapid City Rush got two first period goals to jump out in front. With the Thunder on the power-play, it would be Rapid City that would take the early lead. At the 10:04 mark, Brett Perlini gained control of the puck when a Wichita pass in the neutral zone seemed to be going to no one. Perlini raced in on a breakaway and beat Drew Owsley for the goal to make it 1-0. It was Perlini’s seventh goal of the season.
At the 16:56 mark, Lindsay Sparks got free and was headed for the Wichita net when he was hauled down. A penalty shot was awarded and Sparks would beat Owsley high over the shoulder to make it 2-0.
The Rush were riding high, not only leading on the scoreboard, but dominating the Thunder in the first period, outshooting them 14-5. Things would change in the second period, as Coach Malcolm Cameron had his team flying in the second frame.
It would pay off at the 6:54 mark when Vincent Dunn would add his first goal since joining the Thunder. Ryan Tesink won a battle for a loose puck in the Rapid City end and passed back to Dunn who fired a shot by Austin Lotz for the score.
In the third, the Rapid City Rush were clinging to the lead, but Alexis Loiseau would tie the game at 13:41. Louick Marcotte passed to Loiseau who wristed a shot into the net for his ECHL leading 14th goal of the season. It also extended his point scoring streak to five straight games.
Into overtime the game went. The Wichita Thunder were dominating play early on. A little over two minutes into the extra session, Matt DeBlouw fed a pass to Melindy down the left wing. He skated into the Rush zone and then moved in front of the net, pushing the puck between the legs of Lotz for the goal, and the Thunder were the 3-2 winners.
Owsley was the winner, stopping 27 of 29 shots.
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier