After dropping the first four games of their five game road trip, the Wichita Thunder finally got on the winning side of the ledger, downing the Idaho Steelheads 5-3 to even the two teams in the Mountain Division of the ECHL with 36 points each. Shane Starrett returned from Bakersfield to earn his eighth win of the season, and Jeremy Beaudry scored a goal and added 2 assists in the victory.
Wichita had struggled on the power-play during the road trip, but they would take advantage of the man advantage to take the lead 15:37 into the contest. Jeremy Beaudry, who had the lone goal the night before, blasted a shot from the point that Ryan Faragher got a piece of, but it trickled off of his glove and into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
The Thunder were dominating the early part of the second period, but it would be the Steelheads who would get on the board, tying the score at 8:25 into the frame. With Idaho controlling the puck in the Wichita end, Tommy Thompson fired a shot that was saved by Shane Starrett but Daniel Tedesco gained control, feeding it back to Thompson who put it in for his second goal of the season.
Just 22 seconds later, the Steelheads turned this game by taking the lead. A.J. White passed the puck to Charlie Dodero at the top of the right face-off circle, who blasted a shot by the Thunder goalie to make it 2-1 Idaho.
The Steelheads looked like they extended their lead to two when the Thunder turned over the puck in their own end. Tedesco shot the puck on net and it looked like it may have squirted underneath a sprawling Starrett who was on his stomach and stretched out as far as he could. The shot was originally ruled a goal but, after review, the referee overturned it, feeling that the puck did not completely cross the line and it remained a one-goal game.
That proved to be huge as the Thunder would add a power-play goal with 41 left in the second period to tie the score. Ralph Cuddemi, who had a few goals stolen on amazing plays by opposing goaltenders during this road trip, received a pass from Beaudry. He then fired a slapshot that beat Faragher for his seventh goal of the season and fifth since joining Wichita.
In the third, it would be Evan Polei that would give Wichita back the lead. Polei made a nice move to use a screen near the faceoff circle to move away from two defenders. He then blasted a slapshot that the Idaho goaltender had no chance on for his third goal of the year.
Polei looked like he would extend the lead a little over two minutes later. While Wichita was killing off a penalty, a long lead pass sent Polei in on a breakaway. He made a nice move to his backhand, but lost complete control of the puck. It then rolled forward where Faragher kicked it away harmlessly to keep this a one goal game.
The lead became two for Wichita at the 9:35 point in the third. Mark MacMillan made a great play along the boards to strip the puck from the Idaho defender. He then moved behind the Steelheads net, passing the puck to Lane Bauer who blasted the one-timer in for his sixth goal of the season.
The lead did not remain two for long. Wichita took a penalty almost immediately following the Bauer goal, and the Steelheads made them pay. Joe Faust passed to Jefferson Dahl, who fired a wrist shot that hit off the post and into the net to make it 4-3. It was the eighth goal of the season for Dahl.
At the 10:44 point, each team earned a penalty that made in 4-on-4 for two minutes. Wichita took full advantage. Just 17 seconds later, Cuddemi was trying to put the puck up and into the net. It slid to Doornbosch, who blasted it home for his first goal of the year. That made it 5-3, which would be the final score.
Jeremy Beaudry finished with a goal and 2 assists for Wichita. Both Ralph Cuddemi and Jamie Doornbosch added a goal and an assist, and Travis Brown had 2 assists. Shane Starrett returned to Wichita from Bakersfield, making 38 saves to earn his eighth win of the season. Henrik Samuelsson had 2 assists for Idaho.
The victory moved Wichita to 17-6-2 on the season, tied for second in the Mountain Division with Idaho with 36 points. The Wichita Thunder will finally return home for the first time in over two weeks, when they take on the Tulsa Oilers on Tuesday night. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier