For the first time in Wichita Thunder history, the team made a trip to Boise to take on the Idaho Steelheads. Unfortunately, their hosts did not prove to be very hospitable as the home team used two second goals in the span of 87 seconds on their way to a 3-0 victory. Ryan Faragher was fantastic in net for Idaho, making 32 saves. The Thunder have dropped the first four games on this five game road trip.
The first period was a tight checking affair which saw both teams take eight shots on net. Neither team could find the key to get the puck behind either goaltender, as the Thunder were able to kill off three power-play situations as well.
At the 12:48 mark in the second, it looked like the Wichita Thunder would finally get a chance to take the lead, when Mark MacMillan created a great opportunity while the Thunder were killing a penalty. He was able to get behind the defender and skated toward the Steelheads end on a breakaway, but was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. MacMillan came in on Ryan Faragher and looked to beat the netminder with a back-hander but Faragher made a great glove save to keep the game scoreless.
After both goalies seemed impenetrable early on, Idaho was finally able to get a puck past Thunder goalkeeper Joel Rumpel to take the lead at the 14:39 mark in the second. Corey Durocher stole the puck at his own blueline and carried the puck into the Wichita end on a 2-on-1 break, making a nice pass to Jefferson Dahl who put the puck in for his seventh goal of the year.
With a little less than four minutes left in the period, Idaho was able to extend their lead to two. Joe Faust looked to dump the puck into the Thunder end, but the puck took a weird bounce off the boards and went into the net to make it 2-0. It was the second goal of the year for Dahl.
Staked to a two goal lead, it was all about Ryan Faragher in the third period. About five minutes into the period, the Thunder had four great chances to get the puck in the net, but each time the Steelheads goalie denied a would-be scorer. At 12:45 into the frame, Chad Butcher looked like he would make this a one-goal game when he had a wide open net, but Faragher came from out of nowhere to make a great save.
That proved to be huge as two minutes later Idaho made the lead three. A.J. White passed the puck across to Henrik Samuelsson, who buried the one-timer for his 10th goal of the year. That made it 3-0.
After being blanked for more than 59 minutes, the Thunder ended the shutout thanks to defenseman Jeremy Beaudry. The defenseman was able to keep the puck in the Steelheads end, firing a shot that beat Faragher for his fifth goal of the season. That made it 3-1.
Ryan Faragher was absolutely brilliant, stopping 32 shots, including four unbelievable saves that proved to be the difference maker in this contest. That moved his record to 5-3-0 on the season.
The final game of this road trip will be in Boise tomorrow night. The puck drops at 8:10 local time.
By Robert Pannier