For only five minutes of Saturday night’s contest, the Wichita Thunder led in the game, finding themselves playing catchup for most of the evening after being outshot through the first 30 minutes of the game, 22-5. However, the Thunder would play to a three all tie, sending the game into overtime, where Mark MacMillan won it with an amazing offensive play to give the Thunder their second straight victory over the Indy Fuel to start the season, 4-3. Shane Starrett earned the victory in his first professional start, making 31 saves.
The Wichita Thunder looked like they would get on the board first at the 5:02 mark when Travis Brown set up Louick Marcotte in front of the Indy net, but Collin Delia made a great save with his blocker. That proved to be huge as 11 seconds later the Fuel went back the other way and took the lead. Zach Miskovic passed the puck in front of the net to Nick Bligh who tipped it in for his first goal of the season.
The lead did not last long, however. Just 25 seconds later, Matt DeBlouw pushed the puck toward Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin near the point. He fired a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of Delia and into the net to tie the score at one.
The Thunder had their chance to take the lead when, at the 12:50 mark, Jeremy Beaudry set up David Tyrell at the corner of the net, but his deflection went just wide. With one minute left in the period, it looked like Indy would retook the lead when the Fuel began to celebrate after thinking that they had scored, but the referee waved it off, ruling the puck did not cross the line and play continued.
The first period had been dominated by Indy, as they outshot Wichita 18-5. In the second, the Fuel had their chances to get on top right away. At the 1:47 mark, Ryan Rupert’s shot went over the shoulder of Wichita netminder Shane Starrett, but hit off the crossbar and bounced back out. Seven minutes later, a mad scramble for the puck occurred right in front of Starrett, but he was able to corral it to end the threat.
Finally, at the 14:51 mark, Indy would retake the lead. While on the power-play, the Fuel executed the tic-tac-toe play to perfection. Alex Wideman passed across the ice to Cam Reid who went back across the crease to Tommy Olczyk, who was standing alone at the side of the net. He simply tipped the puck in for his first goal of the year to make it 2-1.
A little less than two minutes later, the Wichita Thunder would tie the score again. Lane Bauer carried the puck into the Indy end and dropped it back to a trailing Mark MacMillan. McMillan then refed the puck back to Bauer near the side of the net, who passed across the crease to Louick Marcotte. Delia was able to make the stop, but Bauer put it right back on net for the goal, his first of the season.
In the third period, the Thunder took their first lead of the game. At the 11:19 mark, Travis Ewanyk gained control of the puck just outside of his own blue line. He then sped in on Delia on a breakaway and wristed a shot over the shoulder of the Indy goalie for his second goal of the season.
The lead lasted for nearly five minutes before the Fuel would tie the score. Geoff Walked gained control of the puck behind the Wichita net and continued to skate around. He then passed the puck to Troy Vance who blasted a one-timer past Starrett to tie the score at three.
That forced the game into overtime, where the Thunder would win it with just 33 seconds left in the contest. With the puck in the neutral zone, Mark McMillan came off the bench on a line change and was fed the puck as Wichita entered the Indy zone. He built up a burst of speed, going behind the net. As he came out from behind the net he moved toward the right face-off circle. The forward fired a shot that beat Delia for his first goal of the season to give Wichita the 4-3 victory.
Mark MacMillan had a goal and an assist for Wichita. Shane Starrett made 31-saves for his first career win.
The Wichita Thunder (2-0-0) are now off until next Saturday when they will welcome the Rapid City Rush. The puck drops at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier