Second Period Surge Propels Fuel Past Thunder
WICHITA, KS – The Indy Fuel scored three second period goals, using the surge to down the Wichita Thunder, 3-2. The loss was the fifth in the last six games for the Thunder. Michal Stinil scored both goals for Wichita. Mitchell Weeks made 26 saves in the victory.
After a scoreless first period, Stinil gave Wichita the lead just 49 seconds into the second. The Wichita forward outraced a Fuel player into the corner, gaining control before starting to move his way toward the slot. He then lifted a wrist shot through the legs of Weeks for his fourth goal of the year.
The lead held for just under three minutes before Indy scored the first of three unanswered goals. Jan Mandát gained control of the puck in the neutral zone, curled back towards his own end before leading a rush into the Wichita zone. After crossing the blue line, he passed the puck across the slot to Kale Howarth, who beat Evan Buitenhuis with a wrist shot to tie the score at one.
Just under six minutes later the Fuel took the lead. Bryan Lemos passed the puck from the point to Andrew Bellant at the back door, but he was unable to get off a clean shot, opting to turn toward the blue line before twisting around. He then lifted a wrist shot over the glove side of Buitenhuis for his third goal of the year.
At the 17:23 mark, Seamus Malone gave the Fuel a two-goal lead. Indy won the draw inside the Wichita zone, back to the point where Cooper Zech slung it across the blue line to Spencer Watson. Watson fired a shot that Malone redirected past Buitenhuis for his fourth goal of the year.
The Thunder had been woefully outshot in the second period, 17-6, but began to rally in the third, pulling within a goal when Stinil scored his second tally of the contest 6:11 into the frame. Brayden Watts moved in just below the left face-off circle before directing a pass toward Stinil in the slot. He buried a one-timer for his second goal of the game.
The Fuel had an opportunity to restore their two-goal lead, but Buitenhuis made a spectacular save on a breakaway opportunity. However, the Thunder could not find the equalizer, dropping to 1-4-1 in their last six games.
Watts finished with two assists for the Thunder. Buitenhuis made 33 saves.
The Wichita Thunder (8-6-2) still hold a one point advantage over the Kansas City Mavericks. Wichita will have an opportunity to extend their lead as these teams meet for three games over the weekend, starting with a 7:05 tilt in Independence on Friday.
by Robert Pannier