Luke Salazar Nets Two to Help Eagles Soar Over Thunder, 5-2
After dropping their seventh game in a row Wednesday night, the Wichita Thunder were looking to get off to a quick start to end their losing streak. However, two first period goals by Luke Salazar put the Colorado Eagles on top, and they would down the Thunder, 5-2, giving Colorado its eighth straight victory.
The Colorado Eagles jumped out in front at the 3:36 mark of the first period. Luke Salazar carried the puck into the slot area and fired a wrist shot that beat Scott Greenham over the shoulder to make it 1-0. That was Salazar’s 16th goal of the season.
A little less than four-minutes later the Thunder would tie the score. Ryan Rupert passed the puck to Zach O’Brien in front of the goal, who fired a shot on net, but Clarke Saunders made a great save. O’Brien stayed with the puck, however, moving it to his right before putting it inside the post for his sixth goal since joining Wichita.
The game remained tied until Salazar would strike again with just 35 seconds left in the first period. Sean Zimmerman fired a shot from the right faceoff circle that hit off of Salazar’s skate and went into the net to give the Eagles back the lead. They would not relinquish it.
Up 2-1, Colorado extended their lead with a little more than five minutes left in the second. A bad turnover by the Thunder in the neutral zone led to a 2-on-1 break for Colorado. Alex Belzile kept the puck and fired a wrist shot that beat Greenham and it was 3-1.
The Thunder were looking for a spark to get them back into this contest and that came with just seven seconds left in the period. Wichita entered the Colorado zone on a 3-on-1 break, but Saunders made a great save to keep the two-goal lead intact. However, the Thunder continued to pressure, pressing the forecheck and keeping the puck in the Eagles’ zone. Finally, the puck would find its way to Jamie Doornbosch, who was streaking down the slot, and he put the puck in for his eighth goal of the year.
Down by one, the Thunder looked to gain the equalizer, but two power-play goals in the third period would put this game on ice. The first came at 3:27 when Matt Register beat Greenham with a slap shot to make it 4-2. With less than four minutes left in the game, Jake Marto beat Greenham with a slap shot to make it 5-2. That would be the final.
Luke Salazar finished with 2-goals and an assist and Matt Register had a goal and 2-assists for the Eagles. Sam Jardine had 2-assists. Clarke Saunders made 19-saves for the victory. Zach O’Brien finished with a goal and an assist for Wichita.
These two teams meet again tomorrow night as the Wichita Thunder look to snap their eight-game losing streak. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier