If it had seemed that the Wichita Thunder hadn’t faced the Kalmazoo Wings in forever that is because they hadn’t. These two teams had never faced each other before, and the Thunder proved to be quite inhospitable to their guests, dominating the score in a 4-1 victory that moved Wichita to 14-2-2 (30 points), extending their winning streak to three. Joel Rumpel was brilliant in net, stopping 39 shots and Steven Iacobellis had 2 assists in the victory.
After the Wings took the first seven shots of the game, it would be Wichita that would get on the board first. At the 6:45 mark in the first period, Wichita was doing a great job of keeping the puck in the Kalmazoo end, relentlessly forechecking, not allowing the Wings a chance to get the puck out of their end. Travis Brown fired a shot from the point that went off the backboards and around to the other side to Etienne Boutet. The defenseman passed the puck down low to Dyson Stevenson, who passed the puck out in front to Matt DeBlouw. DeBlouw buried the wrist shot in the back of the net for his third goal of the season to make it 1-0.
After peppering Joel Rumpel for seven shots in the early part of the first period, the Wings had just two shots on goal over the last 13 minutes, but they had a golden opportunity early in the second. A little over a minute into the period, Rumpel made a nice save on a shot by Eric Kattelus, but the rebound came right to Lane Scheidl at the other side of the net. Rumpel dove to his right and made a great save to keep the puck out of the net, preserving the one goal lead.
At the 4:11 mark of the period, the Thunder had a golden opportunity. Greg Chase made a great pass through the legs of the defender to Chad Butcher alone in front of the net. He put a back-hander on goal, but Michael Garteig made a great pad save to deny the scoring chance.
After a scoreless second period, the Thunder gave themselves a little room in the third. At the 1:34 mark, Steven Iacobellis took a shot that Garteig saved, but Ralph Cuddemi put in the rebound for his third goal of the season to make it 2-0.
Less then three minutes later, Wichita made the lead three. Evan Polei battled along the boards for the puck just outside of the Kalamazoo end. After gaining control he moved in along the boards before swooping in front of the net and beating the Wings goalie between the pads for his first professional goal.
Finally, the Wings would get on the board on the power-play at 10:56 of the third. Justin Taylor passed the puck to Kyle Blaney in the slot who beat Rumpel between the legs for his second goal of the season.
Five minutes later Wichita extended their lead back to three. Chase passed the puck across the crease to Dyson Stevenson, who put it in for his fifth goal of the season. That made it 4-1.
Joel Rumpel was absolutely brilliant in net for the Thunder. After blanking the Wings in that early first period surge, he stopped 20 shots in the second. The Wichita netminder finished with 39 saves in recording his seventh win of the season.
Steven Iacobellis added 2 assists for the Thunder. He has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games. Both Matt DeBlouw and Dyson Stevenson had a goal and an assist.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier