The Wichita Thunder only had six shots in the third period of Saturday night’s contest, but they scored on two of them to erase a two goal deficit and force overtime. However, Peter Sivak ended the hopes of the Thunder, scoring with a little over a minute left in the extra frame to give the Rapid City Rush the 4-2 victory.
The Thunder looked like they were going to jump on top about 10 minutes into the first. Nick Latta fired a shot that beat Rapid City netminder Adam Vay, but hit off the post and back out. The rebound was loose in the crease and redirected back on net, but Vay was able to lay down on his back over the puck, keeping it out of the net.
A bad turnover by the Rush gave the Thunder another great chance. A bad pass was picked off by Kevin Dufour, sending him in on a breakaway. He looked to go between the legs of the Rapid City goalie, but Vay made a great save to knock the puck away and keep it scoreless.
With about three minutes left in the first, Stepehn Hrehoriak had a great scoring opportunity. He blew past the Thunder defender, giving him a break in on Nick Riopel, but the Thunder goaltender made a nice kick save to deny him the scoring chance.
While the scoring chance was denied, it did generate a tripping penalty which resulted in a power-play goal. Ian Brady fired a shot that appeared that it deflected off a Thunder defender and into the net for his fourth goal of the year.
That came with 69 seconds left in the period, and the Rapid City crowd was ecstatic, but Dufour silenced that crowd with a goal 15 seconds later. The Thunder won the draw at center ice, and Chad Butcher made a great pass to Dufour, sending him down the slot alone where he beat Vay for his 19th goal of the season. That tied it at one.
After being outshot in the first period 13-7, Wichita dominated most of the second period, outshooting Rapid City 12-7 in the second. However, it would be the Rush that would take the lead.
With 49 seconds left in the second, Andrew Radjenovic took a shot that Brayden Sherbinin knocked in for his first goal of the season. The Thunder protested, arguing that the puck did not completely cross the goal line, but the referee had ruled it had without question.
The Rapid City Rush had scored late in the second and would score early in the third to extend their lead to two. At 1:51 of the frame, the Rush entered the Thunder zone on a 2-on-1 break. Jack Walker passed the puck to Radjenovic, who beat Riopel with his 11th goal of the year. That gave him 2 goals and 2 assists in the two games against the Thunder this weekend. Jack Walker earned his third assist of the game on the play.
It would not take long for the Thunder to respond. Just before the five minute mark of the period, Kevin Patterson fired a shot that Vay saved, but Ralph Cuddemi put the rebound in for his team leading 28th goal of the season. That made it 3-2 Rush.
The goal also resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Rapid City and Wichita took advantage of the man advantage. At the 6:40 mark, Brayden Low came out from behind the net and slid the puck in for his 18th goal of the season to tie the score.
Wichita had two golden opportunities where players were wide open at the side of the net, but somehow could not find the back of the net. That forced the game into overtime where the Rush would win the game. Daniel Leavens fed the puck to Peter Sivak, who swooped in on net and tucked the puck in for his 23rd goal of the year.
The overtime loss moved the Thunder to 2-1-1 through the first four contests of their current seven game road trip. They earned a point to move five points ahead of the Allen Americans in the Mountain Division. The Americans fell to the Colorado Eagles, 5-4. Ken Patterson and Travis Brown each had 2 assists for the Thunder.
The Wichita Thunder take on the Kansas City Mavericks on Tuesday in Independence. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier