Thunder Comeback Falls Short in OT Loss
WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime, only to see Zach Tsekos score with 38 seconds left in the extra frame to give the Utah Grizzlies a 5-4 victory on Friday evening. Jay Dickman scored the tying goal and added an assist and Connor Walters and Gavin Gould each had two assists. Cameron Wright and Aaron Thow each had three points for Utah. The Thunder are 0-5-1 in their last six games.
Quinn Preston scored the only goal of the first period, netting his 19th goal of the season 16:19 into the contest. With Wichita on the power-play, Dickman moved behind the net, waiting for Preston to get into the right circle before feeding him a pass. The forward blasted home the one-timer by Trent Miner to make it 1-0.
Wichita held a one goal advantage through the first intermission, but Utah caught fire early in the second, scoring three goals in the span of 2:06. Dylan Fitze tied the score at 6:20. Fitze led a rush into the Wichita zone, then beat Justin Kapelmaster with a wrist shot.
Just 85 seconds later Utah took the lead. Cam Strong took a shot that deflected off the chest of Keaton Jamison to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 advantage. Utah extended the lead to two 41 seconds later when Thow scored his first goal of the contest. He found a seam, blasting a shot from the point that somehow made its way past Kapelmaster.
The Grizzlies outshot the Thunder, 22-15 in the frame, but it was the Wichita netminder keeping this game close. His team responded, going back within one when Jake Wahlin scored a shorthanded goal 13:15 into the second. He read a pass across the blueline perfectly, intercepting it, then heading the opposite direction on a breakaway. He beat Miner with a wrist shot for his 10th goal of the year.
The Thunder were still down entering the third period, but Cameron Hough tied the score 1:20 into the third. Gould passed the puck from the right face-off circle inside the Utah zone across the slot to Hough at the left circle. He fired a wrist shot that went just underneath the arm of the Grizzlies netminder for his second goal of the year.
The Thunder finally had some momentum going their way, but Utah retook the lead when Thow scored his second goal of the night 7:19 into the frame. Thow moved behind the net, coming around the other side for the wraparound to put Utah back on top, 4-3.
The Grizzlies did not hold the lead for long, however, as Dickman scored just before the halfway point of the period. Walters passed the puck out in front to Dickman, who blasted home his 20th goal of the season.
That sent the game to overtime where Utah dominated, outshooting Wichita 13-2 in the frame. Kapelmaster was the difference, making several incredible saves in the overtime session. However, with 31 seconds left, Wright took a shot that Kapelmaster saved, but the rebound bounced into the air where Tsekos was able to bat it home to give Utah the victory.
Despite taking the loss, Kapelmaster was fantastic, stopping 53 shots. It is the second time in his three starts with Wichita that he has faced at least 51 shots.
The Wichita Thunder (26-24-5) look to snap their six-game skid when they take on the Utah Grizzlies (24-26-3) on Sunday. The puck drops at 4:05.
by Robert Pannier