Stinil Thwarts Heartlanders Comeback with OT Game-Winner
CORALVILLE, IA – The Iowa Heartlanders twice battled back from one-goal deficits on Wednesday evening, forcing overtime, but Michal Stinil delivered the game-winner, scoring just 42 seconds into the extra session to give the Wichita Thunder a 3-2 victory. Quinn Preston and Cole MacDonald each had two points for the Thunder. Roman Basran stopped 24 shots and Mitch Benson made 22 saves for Iowa in his professional debut.
The Thunder jumped out on top 2:43 into the contest on a confusing play. With Wichita on the power-play, Connor Walters fed the puck to Brett Boeing, who fired a shot that beat Benson. The red light came on, but the referee initially waived off the call. The Thunder began to celebrate, allowing the Heartlanders to go the other way on a 2-on-1 break. There Jake Durflinger took a feed and beat Basran with a one-timer. The play was reviewed and, after a little confusion, the Boeing goal stood.
At 14:54, the Heartlanders tied the score. Just as a power-play was ending, a great bounce off the boards went back to Bo Hanson, who fed the puck to Clayton Phillips. He went across the crease to Jesse Jacques. Jacques buried a one-timer for his first professional goal.
The score did not remain tied for long. With 3:33 left in the first and Wichita back on the power-play, MacDonald passed the puck to Gavin Gould at the right post. He waited patiently for a moment before making a perfect feed through the slot to Preston, who drilled in a one-timer for his 22nd goal of the season.
Wichita held the one goal edge through the second, as neither team could beat the opposing netminder, but Zach White added a power-play goal at 5:33 of the third that tied the score. Once again, it was a great bounce off the back boards that created the scoring chance. Nolan Orzeck took a shot that hit off the boards and bounced to the side of the net. White quickly sped in, lifting a wrist shot over the leg of Basran for his 18th goal of the year.
Iowa had two golden opportunities to take the lead, but Basran was spectacular, stopping both attempts, one with a toe save and the other with his glove.
That sent the game to overtime where Iowa had a chance to win it early. After Preston missed on a one-timer, Iowa went back the other way on a 3-on-1. White tried to feed the puck to the backdoor, but MacDonald made a great play to knock the puck into the corner. Back the other way the Thunder went, with Preston leading a 2-0n-1 break. After reaching the right faceoff circle, he fed the puck to Stinil, who moved across the crease before tucking a backhander past Benson for his 26th goal of the year.
Basran moved to 3-4-0 while lowering his goals against average to 3.02. Preston finished with a goal and an assist and MacDonald had two assists. Benson was sharp in his professional debut, stopping 22 shots.
The Wichita Thunder (29-28-5) will take on the Iowa Heartlanders (16-32-14) again on Friday. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier