McMann, Thunder Tame Mavericks, 6-2
The Wichita Thunder won their second straight home game on Sunday afternoon thanks to five goals over the final two periods, helping the team to a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks. Four points by Bobby McMann and 37 saves by Evan Wenninger helped spur the team to victory. The win keeps the Thunder (6-2-1) in second place in the Mountain Division.
As they had the previous night, the Wichita Thunder took the lead early, this time 5:36 into the contest on a power-play, the team’s first goal with the man-advantage in three games. Jeremy McKenna had the puck along the boards, passing it across the slot to McMann who fired a shot that Kansas City netminder Sean Bonar got a piece of, but it went right to Stefan Fournier who knocked it in for his third goal of the year.
With about 10 minutes gone in the first, Bonar made back-to-back amazing saves to keep his team down by just a goal. Beau Starrett made a nice move putting him in on Bonar, but the Mavericks goalie was able to knock down the attempt. That left the puck sitting on the ice where Cam Clarke swept in and drilled it toward the far post, but Bonar was able to quickly get back to his feet and knock it aside.
That proved to be huge as the Mavericks tied the score about two minutes later. With a delayed penalty called against Wichita, Loren Ulett fired a shot from the high slot that Weninger knocked down, but the rebound came right to Bryan Lemos, who put it in for his third goal of the year.
It was like déjà vu from the previous night as the Thunder retook the lead a little less than four minutes into the second period. It was a great give and go that set up the play. Anthony Beauregard had the puck in the Mavericks end moving toward the blueline. He gave it Sean Allen who was heading back down the boards toward the goal line. Allen moved toward the net, firing a wrist shot that Jay Dickman tipped in for his second goal of the year, giving the Thunder a 2-1 lead.
A little after the 10 minute mark, the lead became two. A terrible turnover in the neutral zone allowed McMann to gain control of the puck. He then burst into the Kansas City end on a breakaway. A Mavericks defender tried to molest him to knock the puck away, but McMann shielded the puck, then swept across the net, tucking the puck in on a beautiful backhand for his fourth goal of the year.
A little less than two minutes later, the Mavericks used their power-play to pull back within one. Marcus Crawford passed the puck to Willie Corrin, who fired a wrist shot that beat Weninger for his first goal of the year.
With less than six minutes left in the second and Wichita on the power-play, Anthony Rinaldi read the pass attempt perfectly, stealing the puck and heading the other way on a breakaway. He moved in on Weninger looking to go five-hole, but the Wichita netminder was able to make a huge pad save to deny the opportunity.
Just short of two minutes into the third, the Mavericks were on a power-play and came inches away from tying the score. A shot was fired from the point that was deflected to the right of Weninger and right onto the stick of Brodie Reid. Reid was all alone with Weninger on the other side of the goal, but the Thunder netminder was able to quickly slide across and smother the shot with his leg pad, maintaining the one goal lead.
At 4:53, Wichita restored their lead to two. McKenna carried the puck in on a 2-on-1. He then made a great pass across the slot to Matteo Gennaro who drilled the shot up high and into the net for his team-leading sixth goal of the year. That made it 4-2. McMann earned the other assist, his third point of the game. He would add another assist later.
A little over three minutes later, the lead became three. Gennaro had the puck in the corner, dishing it back to the point to Noel Hoffenmayer just as he was entering the zone. He fired a wrist shot that beat Bonar over the glove hand for his second goal of the season.
With 6:28 left in the game, the Thunder were pouring it on. Gordie Green carried the puck down the boards and into the Mavericks end where he dropped it for Hoefenmayer. Hoefenmayer moved in about 10 feet into the Kansas City zone, then dished a pass to Brayden Watts, who blasted the one-timer in for his first professional goal.
With 2:42 left, Weninger was not done dazzling. A loose puck wound up on the stick of Reid, who was all alone in front of the Wichita net. However, Weninger stoned the shot attempt, smothering it to deny any rebound opportunity as well.
The Mavericks outshot Wichita, 39-27. It was a solid Thunder power-play that helped maintain the victory, denying Kansas City on seven of their eight opportunities with the man-advantage.
McMann finished with a goal and three assists. Gennaro had a goal and an assist and McKenna had two assists. Clarke finished +5 on the afternoon.
By Robert Pannier