The Wichita Thunder finally made their trip to Greenville to take on the Swamp Rabbits, but they couldn’t be happy with the results. This was a set of two games that was supposed to be played in December, but a malfunction at the stadium led to a postponement. The struggling Thunder made the 16-hour trip only to see Michael Joly score 4-goals and Ahti Oksanen and Allan McPherson each add 4-points as Greenville defeated the Thunder, 7-3.
Greenville would grab the lead just 1:19 into the contest thanks to Michael Joly. Oksanen sent Joly down center ice on a breakaway and he beat Thunder goalie Drew Owsley with a great fake move before tucking the puck into the net to make it 1-0.
A little over five minutes later Macoy Erkamps would tie it for Wichita. The puck was swung along the blue line to the defenseman, who fired a shot that beat Mackenzie Skapski to tie the game at one. That was Erkamps fifth goal of the season.
At the 13:37 mark the Swamp Raibbits would retake the lead, but this time for good. McPherson passed the puck to Joly at the right circle and he fired a quick wrist shot that beat Owsley for his second goal of the game.
Two minutes later Joe Houk extended the lead to two. Houk swept in on net and tucked the puck into the goal by making a nice move on his backhand. That was Houk’s 13th goal of the year.
The Thunder had put 17-shots on net in the first period, but Skapski allowed just the one goal in. Wichita would finally break through against him at the 4:32 of the second period when Jamie Doornbosch, who returned to the club from Binghamton earlier in the day, netted his ninth goal of the season.
From there the game was dominated by the Swamp Rabbits, as they would score four unanswered goals. At 10:56 of the second period, Ahti Oksanen extended the lead back to two. While on the power-play, Oksanen was able to corral a bouncing puck near the top of the slot area and he fired a shot that beat Owsley for the goal, his 18th of the season.
With 45-seconds left in the period, Greenville would put this game away with two goals in the span of 35-seconds, both by Joly. At 19:15, Joly found himself alone near the front of the goal. He put on a great move and then put the puck in around Owsley for the hat trick.
Just 35-seconds later he would tie the franchise record for goals in a game. McPherson was able to poke the puck toward Joly who got it on the tape and put it past the Thunder goalie with a quick shot for his fourth goal of the game and 23rd of the year.
At the 9:01 mark of the third period Joe Houk would add his second goal of the game. Ian Lowe would add his seventh goal of the season to close out the scoring as the Greenville Swamp Rabbits earned the 7-3 victory.
Michael Joly Finished with 4-goals and two other players earned four points on the night for Greenville. That included Ahti Oksanen, who had a goal and 3-assists, and Allan McPherson, who had 4-assists. Joe Houk added 2-goals. Jamie Doornbosch had a goal and 2-assists for the Wichita Thunder.
These two teams will go at it again on Wednesday morning at 10:30 EST.
By Robert Pannier