Plouffe Delivers Game-Winner in OT, Thunder Fall 5-4
The Wichita Thunder opened the 2019-20 season on Friday night and it looked like they would be blown off the ice in the debut of head coach Bruce Ramsay. However, the team battled back from a three goal deficit, tying the score before falling in overtime to the Indy Fuel, 5-4. Derian Plouffe delivered the game winner with 27 seconds left. Beau Starrett and Chris Crane each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder.
The Fuel came out flying and would take the lead 2:30 into the contest. Bobby MacIntyre made a great feed across the slot to Spencer Watson who buried the one timer to make it 1-0.
The Thunder shook off the early goal but Indy would get them back on their heels, scoring two goals just 20 seconds apart. The first came at 9:23 when a bad turnover gave the Fuel the puck in the Wichita end. Alex Krushelnyski passed to Matthew Thompson who beat Dylan Wells to make it 2-0.
At 9:43, Plouffe passed to Watson who fired an absolute laser over the shoulder of Wells for his second goal of the game.
This game looked like it could easily get out of hand, but Wichita came out of the locker room intent on getting back into this contest, and Chris Crane pulled them within two when he scored 25 seconds into the second. With the puck loose in front of the Indy goal, Crane battled for it, eventually putting it in for his first goal of the year.
It stayed 3-1 until 14:02 when the Fuel would extend their lead back to three. Thompson scored his second goal of the game when he beat Wells with a wrist shot.
Three minutes later, the Wichita Thunder cut the deficit to two. Jordan Sims’ shot was knocked down in front, but Stefan Fournier was able to battle for it to knock it in to make it a 4-2 game.
With seven seconds left in the second, the Thunder would make this a one goal game. Luke Shiplo made a great feed to Brendan Smith, who buried the one timer to make it 4-3.
It stayed that way through a tense third period, where the Thunder were held to just five shots through the first 15 minutes. However, they would not be denied as Beau Starrett would tie the score with just under five minutes left in the game. Starrett took the pass at the right face off circle, blasting a laser to tie the score at four.
The Fuel would take charge of the game from there, dominating play in the Thunder end, but Wells made two brilliant saves in the closing minutes to force overtime.
Indy kept the pressure on in the OT period, outshooting the Thunder 6-1, and that would eventually result in the game winning goal. At the 4:33 mark, Tim Shoup fired a shot that Wells saved, but the puck came right to Plouffe, who put the rebound in for the game winner.
Chris Crane and Beau Starrett each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder. Luke Shiplo had two assists. Dylan Wells made 33 saves.
The Indy Fuel were led by Matthew Thompson and Spencer Watson, who each had two goals. Derian Plouffe had a goal and an assist and Liam Coughlin added two assists.
The Thunder return to the ice on Saturday to take on the Indy Fuel, looking to even the series. The opening faceoff is set for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier