The Wichita Thunder had been tough to beat when they entered the third period leading in games this season, but they were unable to hold a 3-2 lead Tuesday night against the Fort Wayne Komets, giving up three unanswered goals to fall 5-3. Trevor Cheek led the way for Fort Wayne, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists.
The Wichita Thunder got on board first thanks to a power-play goal. At 8:28 of the first, Ralph Cuddemi passed the puck to Chad Butcher who buried a shot past Michael Houser for his eighth goal of the year.
The lead lasted a little more than two minutes when the Komets would tie the score. Trevor Cheek’s eighth goal of the year came thanks to a nice pass by Gabriel Desjardins to set up the tying score.
It would stay tied coming out of the first break, but Fort Wayne would take the lead at 1:21 of the second. Artur Tyanulin passed the puck ahead to Justin Hodgman who was streaking down the wing. Hodgman fired a shot that beat Nick Riopel to make it 2-1 Komets. It was Hodgman’s fifth goal of the year.
Four minutes later, it would be the Thunder who would tie the score. Ralph Cuddemi made a great play to force a turnover in the Fort Wayne end. He then gave the puck to Ryan Van Stralen who put the puck in on the backhand for his first goal in his first game in a Wichita uniform.
The Komets looked like they would retake the lead at the 10:18 mark when Mason Baptista made a great shot, but Riopel made a beauty of a save, moving quickly to his right to keep the puck out of the net.
That proved to be huge, because it would be the Thunder who would take the lead with just 56 seconds left in the frame. Wichita did a great job of keeping the puck in the Fort Wayne end. Cuddemi passed the puck back to Jeremy Beaudry, who blasted a shot that beat Houser for his 12th goal of the year.
Fort Wayne came out of the second intermission on fire, and that paid dividends when they tied the score 3:15 into the third. Artur Tyanulin fired a shot that the Thunder goalie saved, but Cheek battled for the rebound and put it in for his second goal of the game. Nick Riopel was hurt on the play, but remained in the contest.
However, Riopel was clearly hurt, which led to Shane Starrett coming on in relief with a little less than four minutes left in the game. Starrett made some nice saves early on, but the Komets would retake the lead with 1:15 left in the game. Trevor Cheek passed the puck to Ryan Culkin in the slot, whose shot went off the facemask of Starrett and into the net for his 1oth goal of the year.
The Thunder pulled their netminder looking for the equalizer, but Shawn Syzdlowski iced the game with his 27th goal of the season. The empty net goal made it 5-3, which would be the final.
Trevor Cheek had a huge game for Fort Wayne, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists. Artur Tyanulin and Gabriel Desjardins had 2 assists apiece. Ralph Cuddemi had 3 assists for the Thunder.
The Wichita Thunder are off until Friday when they will welcome the Idaho Steelheads for the first of two games. Idaho is second in the Mountain Division, six points ahead of Wichita who is third. The puck drops at 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier