Wichita Thunder Continue Domination of Mavericks, 5-2
It has been a tough year for the Kansas City Mavericks, who entered Tuesday’s contest with the Wichita Thunder in last place in the Western Conference. The truth is that this team would be right in the thick of things had not been for the Thunder, who continued their domination of the Mavericks on Tuesday night, winning 5-2. That moved Kansas City to 5-11-2 against the Thunder this season, meaning that more than 42% of their 26 losses have come at the hands of Wichita. First period goals by Spencer Dorowicz and Peter Crinella set the tone, and Evan Buitenhuis continues to sparkle with 38 saves.
The Thunder jumped out in front 2:23 into the contest. Dorowicz fed the puck to Brayden Watts along the half boards who dished it back to Dorowicz on a great give-and-go. The Thunder forward moved to the far post, tucking a shot between the legs of Andrew Shortridge for his ninth goal of the year.
Almost exactly 2 minutes later, Crinella extended the lead to two. It was a fantastic individual effort by Crinella, who fended off a Mavericks defenseman behind the net, then moved out in front, quickly moving across the crease before he was able to reach his stick out and pull the puck past Shortridge and just inside the right post for his 13th tally of the year.
The Thunder extended their lead to four with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart in the second period. The first game at 9:15 when Ryan White picked up a loose puck along the boards, moved just inside the right face-off circle before firing a race shot that caught the far post over the shoulder of Shortridge for his third goal of the season. It was a great moment for White who was returning after sitting out the last three games with an unspecified injury.
Less than two minutes later, the Thunder were back on the board. Stephen Johnson led a break through the neutral zone and into the Kansas City end. He dropped the puck back to Dorowicz who fired a shot that Shortridge saved, but Johnson continued to charge for the net, putting the rebound in for his sixth goal of the year.
That would be it for Shortridge, who came out after allowing four goals on 23 shots. Matt Greenfield took over from there and Kansas City began to put on the pressure. The Mavericks had zero shots on net through the first five minutes of the second period, but dominated for much of the remainder of the frame. That included getting several great opportunities on Buitenhuis in the closing minutes of the period, including a point-blank chance by Greg Moro that the Wichita netminder was somehow able to save.
The Thunder held a 4-0 lead coming out of the second period, but the Mavericks continued to skate hard, cutting the deficit in half with a pair of third-period goals. The first came on the power-play at 5:49. Bryan Lemos fired a shot that Buitenhuis saved, but no one moved out Lane Scheidl, who gained control of the puck before tucking it inside the right post for his 17th goal of the season.
About 10 minutes later it would be Scheidl again. Willie Corrin passed the puck across the slot to the Mavericks forward who fired a wrist shot that beat Buitenhuis over the blocker for his second goal of the game and seventh against the Thunder this season.
Kansas City was suddenly back in the game, but Jay Dickman would seal it with his 17th goal of the season, an empty net tally that gave Wichita a 5-2 victory.
Watts finished with two assists for Wichita and Dorowicz had a goal and an assist. Nine other Thunder players got on the score sheet. Buitenhuis moved to 12-4-1 with a 2.17 GAA in a Thunder uniform.
With the victory, Wichita now moves to 37-16-8, a .672 winning percentage. That puts them five percentage points ahead of Fort Wayne for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder will look to increase their hold on the top spot when they welcome the Rapid City Rush for three games starting on Friday. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier