Steelheads Draw First Blood as Thunder Comeback Thwarted
WICHITA, KS – The Idaho Steelheads jumped out to a 4-1 lead, then held on to defeat the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday, 5-3. A.J. White had two goals for the Steelheads and Rémi Poirier made 26 saves. Quinn Preston continues his red-hot stretch for Wichita, scoring two goals and adding an assist and both Brayden Watts and Michal Stinil had two assists in the game.
Idaho dominated this game from the start, firing 17 shots in each of the first two periods against Wichita netminder Evan Buitenhuis while outshooting the Thunder 34-15 through the first two frames. That helped the team jump out to a three-goal advantage.
The first goal for the Steelhead came at 2:06 when Ryan Dmowski netted his 15th goal of the year. Owen Headrick circled from one side of the boards behind the net and around to the opposite side before moving out toward the slot. He then found Dmowski, who redirected the puck past Buitenhuis to make it 1-0.
At 4:22, Wichita tied the score when Preston netted his 11th goal of the year. It was the red-hot Wichita power-play that helped produce to tally as Watts passed the puck to Preston at the right face-off circle, who lifted a wrist shot past Poirier to tie the score at one.
A little less than nine minutes later, White gave Idaho the lead for good, netting a shorthanded goal. After the Steelheads cleared the puck out of their zone, Willie Knierim directed the puck out in front where White gained control, putting it past the Thunder netminder for his seventh goal of the year.
Idaho scored the only two goals of the second period, with the first coming at 9:49. Jack Becker took a shot that Buitenhuis saved, but no one cleared out Jaden Miller, who put the rebound in for his ninth goal of the year.
With 22 seconds left in the period, White netted his second goal of the night. Dawson Barteaux found White at the left face-off circle, who roofed a wrist shot in to make it 4-1.
The Thunder were down, but stepped up their game in the final frame, outshooting Idaho 14-6. That helped the team pull within a goal as Wichita netted two goals within the first 10 minutes of the period.
Chris McKay made this a two-goal game with his first goal of the season 3:31 into the frame. Stinil took a shot that was knocked down in front, but McKay found the rebound, pushing it past the Idaho netminder to make it 4-2.
At 9:18, Preston scored his second power-play goal of the night, making it 4-3. Wichita was doing a great job of moving the puck around the Idaho zone, where Watts found Preston at the right face-off circle. The forward lifted a wrist shot past Poirier to make it 4-3. It was the fifth straight game that the Thunder scored at least two power-play goals and the team has now scored a power-play goal in seven straight contests.
The Thunder had the Steelheads back on their heels, but Knierim sealed the victory with an empty net tally with 1:08 left in the contest. That made it 5-3.
Stinil has scored at least two points in seven straight games and Preston extended his point streak to 13 straight contests. Watts has points in his last 10 games.
The victory was the 12th in a row for the Steelheads. That is the longest winning streak in the ECHL this season.
The Wichita Thunder (18-11-2) will take on the Idaho Steelheads (26-3-1) on Friday night. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier