Wichita Thunder Dominate in 4-1 Win Over Brampton Beast
The Wichita Thunder got back in the win column Friday night with a 4-1 win over the Brampton Beast. The victory moved the Thunder one point ahead of the Rapid City Rush in the Central Division, with a chance to extend that lead Wednesday night when they welcome the Rush to Wichita for a head-to-head matchup. The victory moved the Thunder’s season record against the Rush to 2-1-0-0 this season, with the two teams beginning a three-game series in Brampton starting next Saturday.
Both teams got on the scoreboard in the first period. Ian Duval gave the Thunder the 1-0 lead 8:06 into the game when Eric Meland made a beautiful cross-ice pass to Duval who nailed it home for his 1oth goal of the season. Meland made the play happen by fighting to retain possession in the Rush’s end of the rink before making the pass that setup the goal.
Almost five minutes later, Brampton tied the game when Chad Painchaud took a pass from Justin Donati at the top of the left circle and blasted a shot that Thunder goalie Tim Boron was unable to block in time. It was Painchaud’s 23rd goal of the season, and fourth in the last seven days.
The Thunder came out of the locker room fired up following the first intermission. They dominated the second period, outshooting Brampton 21-7 and tallying the go ahead goal during the period. Wichita was peppering Beast goalie Trevor Cann, but he was unbelievably solid between the pipes, making save after save. Thunder players appeared to be getting a little frustrated with their inability to beat the Beast netminder, but finally 15:08 into the period Danick Gauthier put Wichita ahead for good.
Cann attempted to play the puck, but soon found himself out of position. Two Brampton defenders rushed to try to get back and cover the goal, but Gauthier was able to split between them and put his 21st goal of the season into the net.
Boron was virtually untested during the second period, but when he needed to deliver he did. Following the goal, Jason Pitton made a great move and found himself on a breakaway, looking to tie the score, however, Boron made a great save, and kept his team in the lead heading into the second intermission.
Holding to a one-goal lead, the Thunder offense went to work. The Beast had taken a penalty just one second before the end of the second period, giving Wichita a power-play and a clean sheet of ice to begin the third. The Thunder continually moved the puck well inside the Brampton zone until Meland’s pass found Kirill Tulupov, who fired a wrist shot in for the 3-1 lead. It was Tulupov’s sixth goal of the season.
With a little more than a minute left in the game, Brampton pulled Cann from the net, opting for the extra-attacker, and they were getting good pressure in the Wichita zone, however, Jared Walker made a nice play to intercept a pass in his own end, and then fed Nikita Kashirsky on a breakaway. Uncontested and with no goalie in net, Kashirsky buried the puck for his 12th of the season and a 4-1 Thunder victory.
Wichita was 1-3 with the man-advantage, the first time this season they have scored against Brampton on the power-play. The Beast were 0-2 on the night.
Boron finished the night with 26 saves in 27 chances. He was named the game’s second star, with Gauthier selected as No. 1. Meland was named the third star after tallying two assists.
The Wichita Thunder (25-20-2-5) welcome the Allen Americans (36-10-3-3) to Wichita Sunday evening. Game time is 5:05 local time. The Americans are leading the Central Division with 78 points, which is also the top point total in the East Coast Hockey League. The Thunder’s 57 points puts them in a tie with Alaska for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
By Robert Pannier