There is nothing like an 8 hour bus trip back home after winning in overtime. It would seem that would cause the legs to move a little slower and the bodies to ache a little more, but that did not prove to be the case Saturday night as the Wichita Thunder channeled their inner Superhero on Marvel Comics night, scoring three first period goals on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Quad City Mallards. Travis Brown netted two goals in the first period
The game was scoreless through the first seven minutes, but it looked like the Mallards would take the lead at the 7:11 of the first period. Josh MacDonald carried the puck in on net on a 2-on-2 and passed to Sam Warning who tipped the puck on net, but Shane Starrett made a nice pad save to keep the game tied at zero.
At the 12:21 mark, the Thunder would take the lead. Samuel Thibault fired a shot from the point that hit off the boards and went to the other side of the net where Travis Ewanyk gained control. He took a shot from about two feet from the goal line and somehow found an opening over the shoulder of Quad City goalie Ivan Kulbakov for his seventh goal of the year.
With a little under four minutes left in the period, the Thunder would get back on the scoreboard. Mark MacMillan carried the puck into the Mallards end with a full head of steam moving down the right boards. He swooped in toward the goal and made a pass to Travis Brown who was trailing the play down the slot and drilled it into the net for his third goal of the year. That made it 2-0 Wichita
With 32 seconds left in the period, the lead would become three. Just seven seconds after Wichita went on the power-play, the puck was passed back by Matt DeBlouw to Brown at the point, who wound up and fired a blast that found its way under the crossbar for his second goal of the game.
After being shutout in the first period, the Mallards would use the power-play to get on the board. While on a 5-on-3, Quad City moved the puck around between Sam Warning, Willie Raskob, and Jamie Tardif. Raskob was to the right of Starrett when he passed across the crease to Warning, who wristed a shot from the faceoff circle into the net for his 11th goal of the year.
A little less than six minutes into the second it looked like the lead would be reduced to one. With Wichita on the power-play, MacDonald stole the puck at the point and headed in on the Thunder goal on a breakaway. However, Starrett remained cool, following the play perfectly and making a nice save with his right pad to deny the goal.
At 9:20 of the second, the Mallards had another golden opportunity. On a 2-on-1 break, Warning fired a shot that Starrett saved but the puck came right to MacDonald who had a wide open net to shoot into. However, Chad Butcher picked the pocket of MacDonald, stripping the puck away to deny him a shot.
That proved to be huge because about two minutes later the lead would be back to three. With Wichita controlling the puck in the Quad City end, Dyson Stevenson passed the puck from the left boards across the crease to Etienne Boutet who was near the faceoff circle. He blasted a one-timer that found the back of the net to make it 4-1. That was his second goal of the season.
With just 46 seconds left in the second period, the Mallards would make this a two-goal game again. Kyle Bigos passed the puck to Matt Pohlkamp, who brought the puck into the Thunder end. He moved in on the Wichita keeper, firing a wrist shot that beat the goalie to the far post for his fourth goal of the season. That made it 4-2, which would be the score heading into the second break.
A little less than three minutes into the third, the Thunder almost made this a three goal game again. Greg Chase brought the puck into the Mallards end on a 2-on-1 and passed to Lane Bauer, who fired a great wrist shot that beat Kulbakov, but hit off the post and bounced to the boards harmlessly.
The Thunder had another great chance at 8:47 of the third when Steven Iacobellis and Boutet moved in on a 2-on-none break. The two made a couple of quick passes before Iacobellis fired a wrist shot that Kulbakov somehow was able to make a cat-like save with his glove.
Travis Brown had 2 goals for the Wichita Thunder. Travis Ewanyk added a goal and an assist. Shane Starrett saved 25 shots in recording his seventh win of the season. Despite taking the loss, Ivan Kulbakov was absolutely brilliant in net. The Mallards netminder only stopped 21 shots, but many of them were spectacular.
The Thunder have an early evening affair tomorrow when they take on Kalmazoo. The puck drops at 4:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier