The Wichita Thunder headed to the road for the first time this season, looking to keep their undefeated streak alive. They had won their first four games of the season at home, but were traveling to Tulsa to take on an Oilers team that has traditionally been a nightmare for this team. However, it was Joel Rumpel who ended the dreams for Tulsa, stopping 37 of 38 shots to lead Wichita to a 3-1 victory.
For the fifth straight time this season, the Wichita Thunder took the lead first in the game. Just 4:19 into the contest, Louick Marcotte and Lane Bauer used the give and go to perfection. Bauer passed to Marcotte, who gave it back to the Thunder forward, who buried it for his second goal of the season.
A few minutes later, it looked like Zach O’Brien would extend the lead to two when he entered the Tulsa zone on a breakaway. He totally fooled Jake Hildebrand, getting the Oilers netminder out of position, but his shot hit off the post and bounced out.
The Oilers had their chance to tie the score with a little over four minutes left in the period. Justin Selmon fired a shot on net, but Joel Rumpel made a nice save. The puck bounced out and worked its way around to Eric Drapluk, who hit the post and the Thunder dodged the bullet.
The Thunder headed into the second period with a one-goal lead, but a late goal gave them a commanding lead heading into the locker room. At the 10:39 mark and with Wichita on the power-play, Jeremy Beaudry passed the puck across the blueline to Travis Brown. Brown fired the puck on net, and Mark MacMillan tipped it in for his second goal of the season.
A short time later Beaudry had two chances that looked like the lead would be three. The first came at 11:44 when the defenseman fired a shot on goal that he was sure crossed the goal line, but the referee waved it off and play continued. A little over a minute later, Beaudry entered the Tulsa zone on a breakaway. He made a nice move to his back-hand, but Hildebrand made an amazing save to keep the puck out of the net.
It looked like it would stay that way heading to the locker room but, with one second left in the period, Kyle Platzer made this a three goal Wichita lead. The puck was passed out to the neutral zone down the boards and entered the Oilers end. Hildebrand looked like he could not figure out whether he should come out for the puck or let the play come to him. He made the wrong call, as Platzer gained control of the puck and defeated the Tulsa goalie on the breakaway to make it 3-0 at the 19:59 mark.
At 2:34 of the third period, Tulsa had a shot to get on the board. First Selman fired a shot that was saved. The rebound came out to Adam Pleskach, who fired the puck on net, but Rumpel made a great save to keep it out.
Finally, at the 8:44 mark the Oilers got on the board. Dmitrii Sergeev fired a shot that Rumpel saved, but Evan Richardson was right on the doorstep and put the puck in for his third goal of the season to make it 3-1. The Tulsa Oilers would outshoot Wichita in the third period 16-4, including a span where they had 10 straight shots, yet they would get no closer.
The big story for the night for Wichita was the penalty-killing unit, which killed off eight man advantages for Tulsa. Joel Rumpel moved to 3-0-0 on the season, saving 37 of 38 shots against him.
The Wichita Thunder are off until Saturday when they travel to take on the Kansas City Mavericks. The puck drops at 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier