Beauregard Skate-Off Goal Ends Wild Game in Wichita, 3-2
It has been the Wichita Thunder who have been the team battling back in the third period of games this season, but the Tulsa Oilers gave Wichita a little dose of their own medicine on Saturday evening, erasing a two-goal deficit to force overtime. However, Anthony Beauregard saved the day, delivering the skate-off goal 2:29 into the extra session to give Wichita a 3-2 victory, snapping the team’s two game losing streak.
At 9:41, Beauregard gave his team to lead with a power-play goal. Stefan Fournier passed the puck to Matteo Gennaro in front of the net, who looked to make a tip in past Tulsa netminder Devin Williams. Williams made a nice save on the attempt, but Beauregard was able to swoop in and knock in the rebound for his 17th goal of the year.
A little less than two minutes later, the lead became two thanks to an outstanding play by Fournier. The Thunder forward gained control of the puck behind the net, swooping out in front to try to put the backhander past Williams. Williams made the save, but Fournier had two more attempts at trying to get the puck in. Both times Williams came up big, but the puck was still loose. Beauregard briefly gained control of the puck, but was knocked down. Jay Dickman then took control, moving toward his left toward the opposite side of the net before his attempt was deflected. Fournier followed the play to the opposite side of the net, gaining control before firing it in for his 17th goal of the season. The relentless play on the part of the Wichita forward gave his team a 2-0 lead.
Thunder goaltender Hayden Lavigne was making that lead hold through the first two periods. He was outstanding, stopping 25 Tulsa shots to preserve the lead. For the first 49 minutes of this game, the Thunder had dominated the contest but, in the span of two minutes, Tulsa would tie the score.
The first goal came at 9:32. Michael McNicholas came down the slot, firing a shot that Lavigne saved, but the puck came right to Gregg Burmaster who fired in the rebound for his ninth goal of the season.
A little less than two minutes later a bad break allowed the Oilers to tie the score. McNicholas fired the puck from the neutral zone down into the Thunder end. Lavigne came out to play the puck behind the net, but it took an odd bounce off the boards right out in front where Ian McNulty was able to knock it into the empty net for his fifth goal of the season.
That forced overtime where it looked like Wichita had won the game just before the two-minute mark. Dean Stewart made a great play to steal the puck near his own blue line, leading a 2-on-1 break into the Tulsa end. As he approached the net, he dished the puck back to Beauregard who fired a shot that looked like it hit off the back crossbar. Play continued as neither the red light came on nor the on-ice official ruled the play a goal. When play stopped, the referee reviewed the call. Wichita was sure that they had earned the skate-off goal, but it was overruled as it looked like the puck had just hit off the front crossbar but had not gone in.
Play resumed and Beauregard would win it moments later. The Thunder forward took a pass from Gennaro along the right boards. He sped along the boards behind the net, coming out just above the goal line before attempting to pass the puck to Stewart. Unfortunately for the Oilers, the puck deflected off the stick of Charlie Sampair and in to give Wichita the victory.
Beauregard finished with two goals and an assist for Wichita. Fournier had a goal and an assist and Gennaro had two assists in the game. Lavigne stopped 34 of 36 shots to earn the victory.
Williams played well for Tulsa, stopping 33 of 36 shots. McNicholas led the Oilers with two assists.
These teams will square off again on Sunday. The puck drops at 4:05.
By Robert Pannier