When a team gets outshot by 20 shots in a contest, one would expect that team to be dominated, but that did not prove to be the case Wednesday night as the Wichita Thunder defeated the Tulsa Oilers, 4-3, in a game where Wichita never trailed. Rookie Kevin Dufour continued his hot run since joining Wichita, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists, and Mark MacMillan had a goal and 2 assists to aid the victory.
The Thunder would take advantage of a Tulsa mistake at the 4:25 mark. A bad pass in the slot was intercepted by Mark MacMillan, who passed it to Kevin Dufour. Dufour found a wide open Dyson Stevenson, who put the puck in for his 10th goal of the year. That gave Dufour points in all eight games since he was acquired by the Thunder.
The lead did not last long as a little over a minute later the Oilers would tie the score. Joey Sides passed to Conner Bleackley, who buried the puck in the back of the net for his 11th goal of the year.
The Thunder had been struggling on the power-play lately, scoring on only one of their last 21 attempts, but they would capitalize just as the man-advantage ended. At the 17:16 mark of the first, Jeremy Beaudry made a beautiful pass across the zone to Evan Polei, who blasted in the one-timer for his seventh goal of the year.
Tulsa had dominated much of the first period, outshooting Wichita 16-9, and were dominating the first part of the second, outshooting the Thunder 12-4 through the first 10 minutes. That finally paid off at 9:24 of the second. Wichita brought the puck into the Tulsa end, but Grant Sides stole the puck and sent former Wichita forward Ryan Tesink back the other way on a 2-0n-1 break. He kept the puck, and beat Shane Starrett with a wrist shot for his third goal of the year.
The Thunder would retake the lead a little less than seven minutes later. Dyson Stevenson took a shot that hit off the defenseman’s leg and onto the goal. Jake Hildebrand made the save, but the puck was loose right in front of the net. Mark MacMillan saw the loose puck and dove for it, tipping it in with his stick for his 14th goal of the year. That made it 3-2 Wichita.
The red hot Dufour extended the lead to two at the 8:28 mark of the third. MacMillan passed the puck to the rookie, who fired a wrist shot by Hildebrand for his ninth goal of the season. The assist was MacMillan’s second of the game, and he had three points overall.
It looked like Tulsa was going to have a golden opportunity at a scoring chance, but a pass down low near the Thunder net was stolen by Dufour, who headed back the other way on a breakaway. The rookie made a nice move before beating the Oilers goalie for his 10th goal of the year and second of the night. That gave Dufour 6 goals and 6 assists in the eight games since joining the Thunder.
The Oilers would cut that deficit in half with 1:02 left in the contest. While on the power-play, Hildebrand sent a pass to Adam Pleskach that allowed him to go in all alone on Starrett. Pleskach scored his 11th goal of the season to make it 4-3, but the Thunder were able to kill off the final 62 seconds of the game for the victory.
Kevin Dufour finished with 2 goals and 2 assists and Mark MacMillan had a goal and 3 assists for the Wichita Thunder. Dyson Stevenson had a goal and an assist. Joey Sides had 2 assists for the Tulsa Oilers.
The Wichita Thunder return to action Friday night when they take on the Utah Grizzlies. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier