The Wichita Thunder returned home on Tuesday after being swept on their three game road trip. They had won four games in a row at home and it looked like that may come to an end when the Kansas City Mavericks took a 2-1 lead early in the second period. However, four unanswered goals by Wichita gave them complete command of this contest as they went on to win, 5-2. Pierre-Cedric Labrie had two goals and Steven Iacobellis added three assists in the victory.
The game was scoreless through the first 11:53 of the contest, but the Wichita Thunder would take the lead thanks to a bad bounce. Nolan Vesey had the puck in the Mavericks corner. He fired a shot that Nick Schneider saved, but it hit off Jakob Stukel and into the goal to put Wichita on top, 1-0. That was the seventh goal of the year for Stukel.
With 2:47 left in the first, the Kansas City Mavericks would get a weird goal to tie the score. Darian Dziurynski took the puck down the left wing, firing a shot that somehow found its way under the arm of Stuart Skinner and into the goal for his eighth goal of the year.
The score was tied heading into the second when Kansas City would take the lead. While on the power-play, David Dziurynzki fired a shot from the boards that Skinner made the save on, but the puck trickled through his body, barely crossing the goal line for his 10th goal of the year.
At about 10 minutes into the period, the Thunder nearly tied the score. Wichita entered the zone on a 2-0n-1. The pass came right to Steven Iacobellis as he sped down the slot. He redirected the puck, but Schneider made a great kick save to keep his team on top.
With 3:35 left the period, the Thunder would get the equalizer. Wichita entered the contest with the No. 1 power-play in the ECHL and they delivered on their first chance of the game. The first 1:29 of the man advantage the Thunder were able to keep the puck in the Mavericks end. Ralph Cuddemi would eventually pass to Iacobellis, who quickly passed the puck to Pierre-Cedric Labrie who was about three feet from the net. Labrie tipped the puck up and in for his ninth goal of the year.
The Wichita Thunder came out flying to start the third and nearly retook the lead just short of the three minute mark. Labrie passed the puck to Stukel who had gotten past the defender. He tipped the puck on net. It slid under Schneider but went just wide of the net before being cleared.
They continued the pressure and it would pay off just short of the five minute mark. Iacobellis fed the puck to Labrie as he entered the Kansas City end. Labrie fought off two defenders, putting the puck over Schneider’s shoulder with the backhand to make it 3-2. It was the second goal of the game for Labrie.
With about 13 minutes left in the contest, Kansas City was looking to tie the score when they had the man advantage. Jared Van Wormer’s shot got past Skinner, but clinked off the post, barely missing the equalizer.
Four minutes later, a nifty play would extend the Thunder lead. Ralph Cuddemi entered the Mavericks end on a 2-on-1. He lured the Kansas City defender toward him, then made a pass to Mark MacMillan who swept in front of the goal, moving to his forehand before putting the puck over the blocker of Schneider to make it 4-2. That was the seventh goal in 12 games for MacMillan. The assist by Cuddemi extended his point streak to nine games (8 goals, 4 assists).
With about six minutes left in the game, Wichita would seal the victory. Once again it was Iacobellis that setup the goal. He made a nice pass across the crease to a wide open Jeremy Beaudry. Beaudry began to move down toward the net, then fired a wrist shot that went top shelf for his third goal of the year. That gave Iacobellis his third assist of the game extending his point streak to nine games (3 goals, 10 assists).
The victory snapped a three game losing streak for Wichita but extended their home winning streak to five games. The Wichita Thunder will now head north to take on the Rapid City Rush for two games starting on Friday. Opening faceoff is 8:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier