Thuet Stars in Debut as Thunder Down Rush in Shootout, 3-2
WICHITA, KS – Evan Buitenhuis finally got a bit of a break, as Jake Theut was between the pipes for much of the contest on Sunday afternoon, but no worries for the Wichita Thunder, as the goaltender stopped 41 shots to help lead the team to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Rapid City Rush. Peter Crinella and Tim Söderlund both had goals in regulation and they also scored in the shootout to help lead the Thunder to a 4-0-1 record during their five-game homestand.
Rapid City took control of this game early, scoring 8:05 into the contest. Kenton Helgesen passed the puck down along the boards and into the corner to Brett Gravelle, who made a nice move to free himself, heading into the slot where he beat Theut to the far post for his fifth goal of the year.
The Rush had controlled much of the play through the first period, but they totally dominated the second, outshooting Wichita 20-6, giving them a 30-12 edge through the first two periods. That helped them to take a 2-0 lead, as Logan Nelson scored his second goal and is many nights, 13:34 into the second frame. With Rapid City on the power-play, Nelson moved across the slot before wristing a shot over the shoulder of Theut to give the Rush the two-goal advantage.
Despite giving up the two goals, Theut had been exceptional through the first 40 minutes. He was clearly the reason why the Thunder were even in this contest, and his team rewarded him with two third period goals to tie the score.
Just one minute into the third frame, Matteo Gennaro led a rush through the neutral zone and into the Rapid City end. There he found Söderlund, who redirected the pass by Lukas Parik for his third goal of the year.
A little over seven minutes later, it was Crinella’s turn to light the lamp. Jay Dickman weaved his way through some traffic, then made a perfect pass across to Crinella at the left face-off circle. He blasted a one-timer past Parik to tie the score at two.
That sent the game to overtime, where neither team was able to close out the contest. Rapid City had the better of the play, outshooting Wichita, 7-3 in the extra session.
With no winner after seven minutes, the game went to a shootout. In the top half of the first round, Crinella beat Parik while Theut stoned Stephen Baylis. In round two, Söderlund made a beautiful slow down move across the slot, before firing array shot past Parik. That left it up to Max Coatta to keep his team alive, but Theut made the stop, giving the Thunder the victory.
Söderlund has been on a tear in his last three games, recording two goals and two assists. Crinella has scored in each of the last two contests. Dickman had an assist, moving his point streak to eight straight games.
Buitenhuis actually started the game, staying in for three minutes before being removed. That gave him 15 straight starts to begin the 2021-22 season, setting both a franchise and ECHL record for most consecutive starts to begin a season. Theut earned the victory.
The Thunder (9-5-1) had to the road to take on the Iowa Heartlanders (4-10-2) on Wednesday. The puck drops at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier