The Wichita Thunder had lost their last four games, including watching the Tulsa Oilers come from behind to win each of their last two contests. Wednesday night it was the Thunder’s turn to stage a comeback, falling behind by two just seven minutes into the game, then scoring four unanswered goals on their way to the 5-2 victory over the Utah Grizzlies. Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Corey Kalk each had two assists and Quentin Shore added a goal and an assist in the win. Labrie added a late goal as well. Stuart Skinner stopped 18 shots.
The Thunder were in a need of a good start after dropping their last four games, but it would be the Utah Grizzlies jumping out in front just 18 seconds into the contest. Ty Lewis had control of the puck deep in the Wichita End near the end boards. He passed the puck out to Turner Ottenbreit at the blueline. Ottenbreit skated down the slot until he was about 20 feet from the goal, then fired a wrist shot that beat Stuart Skinner to the glove side to make it 1-0. That was the 10th goal of the season for the Utah defenseman.
About 30 seconds later it was almost 2-0 when Ryan Walters cruised down the right boards on a breakaway. He swept in front of the goal looking to slide the puck between Skinner’s legs, but the Thunder goalie was able to knock the puck into the corner, denying the opportunity.
At the 6:12 mark, the lead became two. Walters gained control of the puck behind the Wichita goal. He fired the pass out to Austin Carroll in front of the goal who blasted in the one-timer to make it 2-0. That was the 15th goal of the year for Carroll.
The Wichita Thunder were simply not able to generate much offense through the first 16 minutes of the game but at 16:28 of the first, they would finally get on the board thanks to their deadly power-play. Corey Kalk’s shot was saved by Joe Cannata, but the rebound landed right in front of the crease. Quentin Shore pulled the puck to his right, then tucked it just inside the post for his 17th goal of the year. That cut the deficit to one.
A minute later, the Thunder would tie the score. It would be Kalk that would get the play going again, firing a shot that Cannata saved. The rebound came to the left of the goaltender, where Ryan Van Stralen redirected it back on net, but once again Cannata would make the save. However, Van Stralen did not give up on the play, tapping the rebound between the legs of the Utah goalie for his seventh goal of the year.
The Grizzlies had used the early goal to jump out in front in this game, but it would be the early second period goal that would give the Wichita Thunder their first lead of the contest. Just 27 seconds into the frame, Pierre-Cedric Labrie intercepted an outlet pass in the Utah end, passing it to Stefan Fournier who was heading toward the Grizzlies goal. Fournier, swept across the crease, then made a highlight reel shot, backhanding the puck into the net while falling down to make it 3-2. For Fournier, it was his 15th goal of the year.
After giving up the two early goals, the Thunder were dominating this contest. With a little over two minutes left in the second, they would score their fourth unanswered goal. Shore passed the puck back to the point to Nolan De Jong. De Jong fired a wrist shot into the upper corner for his third goal of the year to make it 4-2.
At the 4:31 mark of the third, the Thunder nearly took a commanding lead. Shore had a point blank shot on Cannata that the Utah goalie was able to save. The rebound went to his left right to Fournier who attempted to knock it back in, but Cannata was able to get his glove out to make a nice save to keep his team down by two.
With one second left in the game, Labrie would steal the puck in the neutral zone and add an empty net goal to seal the 5-3 victory. For Labrie, it was his 19th goal of the year.
The Wichita Thunder would dominate the third period, outshooting Utah 10-4 in the frame. For the game they would outshoot the Grizzlies 37-20. Stuart Skinner helped snap the skid, saving 18 shots.
The Thunder will take to the ice again on Friday night when they take on the Tulsa Oilers. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier