It was a great goaltending battle at US Bank Arena Friday night, but Joel Rumpel proved to be a little better, blanking the Wichita Thunder in leading the Cincinnati Cyclones to the 2-0 victory. Rumpel made 27-saves, while Thunder goalie Drew Owsley stopped 35-shots in a battle that had a playoff atmosphere and saw both goalies make spectacular saves.
The first period was a tight affair that saw the two goalies keep the game scoreless through the first 16-minutes, however, at the 16:10 mark the Cyclones jumped out in front. Jordan Sims passed the puck down the glass and into the Thunder end where Shawn O’Donnell scooped the puck up near the right boards. O’Donnell then made a great move, swooping in front of the net and beating Owsley to the far post to make it 1-0. That was O’Donnell’s eighth goal of the season.
The first period would end with Cincinnati leading 1-0. The Thunder, however, outshot the Cyclones 13-12. In the second period the Cyclones would dominate play, especially early on. A little less than four minutes into the period Cincinnati had two huge opportunities to score when Jordan Sims was left alone in front of the net on two occasions but could not get the puck past Owsley. The first six minutes saw the Cyclones take eight-shots on net, but the Thunder goalie stood strong every time.
At the 8:50 mark it looked like the home team would extend their lead when they entered the Thunder end on a 2-on-1. The pass across was set up perfectly for the tip in, but Owsley made a brilliant save to keep the puck out of the net.
The Cyclones outshot Wichita 15-4 in the second and they would finally take advantage at the 18:39 mark. The puck was passed out to Jaynen Rissling, who fired a wrist shot from the point that beat the Wichita goalie over the shoulder. Rissling’s sixth goal of the season made it 2-0.
Up by two, the Cincinnati Cyclones’ Joel Rumpel took command of this game in the third period. At the 3:05 mark, Ryan Tesink passed to Louick Marcotte in front of the net, who made a great tip in on net, but Rumpel stoned him to keep the shutout intact. About 10-minutes later, Marcotte was sent into the Cyclones’ end on a breakaway, but Rumpel made an unbelievable glove save, snagging the puck on a shot that absolutely looked like it was going in.
Owsley was also making a huge set of saves. At the 5:01 mark the puck was passed out in front of the Thunder net and the shot looked like it was going in, but the Wichita goalie made a great kick save to keep it a two-goal game. At the 10:56 mark, Owsley attempted to clear the puck, but pushed it right into Seth Ambroz. He made a great shot, but Owsley stopped it, pushing it aside. A minute later he made another great save on a point blank attempt.
The two goalies kept the period scoreless, and the game ended 2-0.
Joel Rumpel made 27-saves for his first shutout of the season. That was also his first win of the year. Drew Owsley made 35-saves on this night, and saw his effort go for naught thanks to the outstanding outing by Rumpel.
The Thunder now move onto Fort Wayne to take on the Komets Saturday night. Game time is 6:30 central time.
By Robert Pannier