Nathan Moon Makes Great First Impression; Thunder Win, 5-1
With less than a week with the Wichita Thunder, Nathan Moon made an impressive first impression with his new team, scoring two of the Thunder’s first three goals in leading Wichita to a 5-1 victory over the Alaska Aces. Friday night’s contest was the first of the three-game set between the two teams, and gave the Thunder great momentum heading into the rest of the weekend.
It was a scoreless game through the first half of the first period, and that looked like it would be broken when the Aces were on the power-play. Wichita Thunder goalie Scott Greenham made a great save on a point blank shot, but the rebound bounced to the other side of the net. Greenham did the splits to get into position to make another great save and keep it a scoreless tie. About a minute later, Moon stole the puck inside the Alaska end and fired a shot that went over the right shoulder of Kevin Carr and into the net to make it 1-0 Wichita.
The lead only lasted about two-minutes. At the 14:11 mark, the Aces were on the power-play. Stephen Perfetto passed to Steven Tarsuk, who fired a one-timer that Greenham got a piece of, but the momentum carried it off the side of his chest and barely across the goal-line to tie the score.
Alaska had dominated most of the play in the first period, outshooting the Thunder 18-11, and it would not get much better in the second. The Aces would outshoot Wichita 16-7 in the frame, but it would be the Thunder who would leave the period leading.
At the 2:11 mark, Gerrad Grant won the faceoff deep in the Alaska end, pulling it back to Macoy Erkamps. Erkamps made a perfect pass to Gabriel Gagne about four feet in front of the net. He moved to his left, putting the puck on his backhand and then tucking it into the net for his second goal of the season.
Just 1:33 later it would be Moon again. Logan Nelson brought the puck down the right wing side and into the Aces end. He passed the puck to Moon, who blasted it past the Alaska goalie and into the net for the goal, extending the lead to 3-1.
In the third period the Alaska Aces would dominate the shots again, 13-7, but they would leave the period empty-handed, while the Wichita Thunder extended their lead. With the Aces on the power-play, Nelson broke up the play in the neutral zone and Alexis Loiseau gained control of the puck. He went in on a breakaway and made a nice move before sliding the puck between the pads of Carr and into the goal for his eighth goal of the season.
A little over four and a half minutes later the Thunder were on the power-play. Grant made a nice pass across the Alaska zone to Alexis Vanier at the point. He blasted a slapshot that went right over the shoulder of the Aces goalie and into the net for his second goal of the season. That made it 5-1, which would be the final.
Greenham had a huge game in net for the Wichita Thunder, saving 46 of 47-shots. He made several great saves in the contest, including stopping a 2-1 break with seven minutes left in the second period, and stoning Perfetto a little over a minute into the third when he was standing alone right in front of the net.
Both Grant and Nelson had 2-assists a piece. Gagne had a goal and an assist.
It was one of the most complete performances of the season for the Wichita Thunder, but Head Coach Malcolm Cameron expressed some concerns afterward. “It was our best performance, but at the end of the day we gave up way too many shots. You can’t turn over pucks in your own end. We are making way too much work for our goaltenders.”
The Coach had nothing but accolades for his new forward who came up with two-goals in his first game with the Thunder. “For a guy whose only had two practices with us, I thought he was really solid. I thought he was great in the face-off circles. I thought he was really poised defensively. He had a nice calming influence on the team.”
The Thunder played very well and look to keep that momentum rolling Saturday night. “It’s tough to win back-to-back,” the Coach explained about tomorrow night’s contest. “They will come out pressing the play and will make adjustments. That’s where our guys who have played for a while can relay that to the younger guys, that they are going to come out smoking right from the top, so how we come out right from the start is going to be important to winning and carrying us into Sunday.”
The Alaska Aces and Wichita Thunder drop the puck Saturday at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier