The Wichita Thunder have been struggling of late, dropping five straight on the road entering Saturday night’s contest against the Cincinnati Cyclones. That included losses to the Fort Wayne Komets where the team allowed nine goals and then eight, and so the team turned to Nick Riopel hoping he would turn the team’s fortunes. A late goal allowed Wichita to tie the score, and it looked like things were going their way, but Justin Danforth’s second goal of the game 2:22 into overtime gave Cincinnati the 5-4 victory, extending the Thunder’s road woes.
The Thunder got off to a hot start when they found themselves up by two less than eight minutes into the contest. Dyson Stevenson gave Wichita a one goal lead at the 2:49 mark of the first period. Kyle Platzer gained control of the puck near the goal line. He skated toward the net, passing out to Stevenson at the last moment, who shot the puck past Jonas Johansson for his 11th goal of the season.
Five minutes later, Platzer and Lane Bauer entered the Cincinnati end on a 2-on-1 break. Platzer passed the puck across to Bauer who buried a wrist shot for his ninth goal of the season. That made the score 2-0.
Nick Riopel kept Cincinnati out of the goal, but with a little less than five minutes left in the period, Alex Kile would put in his eighth goal of the season to cut the deficit in half.
That goal seemed to turn the tide as the Cyclones added two second period goals to take the lead. The first came at the 3:46 point in the frame, when Jesse Schultz fired a shot that hit Justin Vaive and went into the net. That was Vaive’s 19th goal of the season.
At 12:01 of the second, Danforth gave his team the lead. With Cincinnati on the power-play, the Thunder looked like they were going to clear the pocket out of their end, but a bad bounce gave the puck right back to Schultz. He passed it to Danforth, who fired a wrist shot in for his 27th goal of the season.
With 1:16 left in the second, Wichita would tie the score. Defenseman Jeremy Beaudry fired a shot from the point that Nick Latta was able to knock in for his fourth goal of the season. That made the score 3-3.
Into the third period the game went with the score tied, but 35 seconds into the frame Cincinnati retook the lead. While on the power-play, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda fired a slapshot from the left face-off circle that beat Riopel for his ninth goal of the year. Schultz earned his third assist on the play.
It looked like the Thunder were going to drop another contest, but with 1:45 left in the game Stevenson scored his second goal of the game to knot the score at four. Mark MacMillan’s shot was saved, but Stevenson battled for the puck and put it in for his 12th tally of the year.
Tied at four, the game went into overtime. Wichita had played extremely well in this contest, limiting the Cyclones to just 15 shots on net, including only eight over the last two periods. However, 2:22 into the extra frame Cincinnati would win it. Brandon McNally fired a shot toward the goal that Danforth tipped in for his 28th goal of the season, and the Cincinnati Cyclones were the 5-4 victors.
Justin Danforth finished with 2 goals and 2 assists for the victorious Cyclones. Jesse Schultz had 3 assists. Dyson Stevenson had 2 goals and an assist for Wichita. Both Jeremy Beaudry and Kyle Platzer had 2 assists for the Thunder, and Lane Bauer had a goal and an assist.
The Wichita Thunder have an early evening affair tomorrow as they take on the Toledo Walleye, looking to snap their six-game road losing streak. The Walleye are first in the Central Division. The puck drops at 4:15.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier