The Wichita Thunder entered Tuesday night’s contest in the throes of a five game losing streak (0-4-1), hoping that they would change their fortunes at home. The Kansas City Mavericks had started the rut with a shootout loss back on November 17, but there would be no overtime in this contest. The Thunder dominated this game, getting two goals from Travis Brown in the 5-2 victory. Dyson Stevenson had three assists and Dylan Wells earned his first win of the season, stopping 33 shots.
The struggling Thunder were looking for a spark early and got it when Mark MacMillan scored his third goal of the season at the 9:17 mark of the first period. John McFarland’s shot was saved but, with Kansas City goaltender Mason McDonald down on the ice, MacMillan swooped in, corralling the rebound and sliding it inside the post to put Wichita on top 1-0.
The Thunder looked like they dodged a bullet when they were able to fend off a 5-on-3 disadvantage without allowing a goal, but moments later they would find themselves short-handed once again. This time the Mavericks would produce. With 80 seconds left in the period, David Dziurynski passed the puck to Cliff Watson who beat Dylan Wells for his third goal of the year.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Wichita Thunder would find themselves on the power-play. With 2.3 seconds left in the period, the faceoff was in the Mavericks end. Kansas City gained control of the puck, but the clearing pass was knocked down by Travis Brown, keeping it in the offensive end. He moved across the blue line, then fired a shot that beat McDonald over the shoulder for his sixth goal of the year, putting the Thunder back on top, 2-1.
At 2:48 it would be Brown again, giving the Thunder a two goal lead. Just after Wichita went on the power-play, Wichita set up in the Kansas City end. Keoni Texeira passed the puck around to Dyson Stevenson who passed it back to Brown at the point. He blasted a shot that looked like it hit off a Mavericks defender and in for his second goal of the game.
With a little under 10 minutes left in the second, Wells made a save, but the rebound went to the other side of the net where Jordan Ernst was standing all alone. He turned and blasted a slapshot, but the Wichita netminder slid across and kicked away the shot to maintain the two goal lead.
Early in the third, the Wichita Thunder would kill off their second 5-on-3 short-handed situation of the game. That came thanks to a gutsy play by Lane Bauer. He blocked a slap shot that hit off his leg, leaving the forward hobbling. He struggled to get up but, moments later, made a heads up play, diving for a loose puck, knocking it into the neutral zone to kill off some time.
At the 3:59 mark, he would make a play on the offensive end. Ryan Van Stralen passed the puck to Bauer in the neutral zone. He moved down the left wing on a 2-on-1, opting to keep the puck and take the shot. He fired a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of McDonald for his first goal of the year.
About four minutes later, Jakob Stukel extended the lead to four. With the puck moving toward the Mavericks net, Stukel battled his way through a Kansas City defender, diving to the ice to poke the puck underneath the Mavericks goalie for his fourth goal of the season. Stevenson had an assist on the goal, his third of the game. Steven Iacobellis also had an assist, his second of the contest.
The Mavericks would get one of those goals back at the nine minute mark, earning their second power-play goal of the game. Wells made a couple of nice saves, but he could not keep out Jared VanWormer’s rebound, cutting the Thunder lead to three. For VanWormer it was his eighth goal of the year. Following the goal, the Thunder did not allow a shot in the final 11 minutes of the game.
The Wichita Thunder will head to Allen to take on the Americans for two games starting Friday night. The faceoff is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier