Beauregard, Weninger Lead Thunder to Victory, 3-1
Anthony Beauregard scored two goals and Evan Weninger made 50 saves as the Wichita Thunder snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Rapid City Rush on Sunday. Beauregard finished with three total points. The 50 saves were a season high for Weninger. With the victory, Wichita moved to 17-6-3.
The Thunder took the lead 8:57 into the contest. Beauregard picked up a loose puck along the boards in his own end, then burst out of his own end, moving through the neutral zone. He entered the Rapid City end on a 2-on-1 break which soon became 3-on-1 with another Wichita player joining the play. Rapid City netminder Adam Carlson looked like he was anticipating Beauregard making a cross crease pass but he chose to keep it himself, firing a wrist shot that beat Carlson through the legs for his eighth goal of the year.
Rapid City put the pressure on in the second, outshooting Wichita 20-10, but it would be the Thunder who would come away with the only goal of the period. That came at 8:54 and was setup by a beautiful save by Weninger.
With the Thunder on the power play, a bad giveaway sent Mike Hedden into the Wichita end on a breakaway. He swept across the net looking to go over the leg of the Thunder netminder, but Weninger made a great sprawling save to deny him the chance.
Stefan Fournier picked up the loose puck and burst out of his own end heading toward the Rush zone. After crossing the blue line, he left the puck for Beauregard who blasted a slapshot from 25-feet away that found the upper part of the net for his second goal of the contest.
Minutes later, it was Weninger’s chance to shine again. Tyler Coulter entered the Thunder zone on a 2-on-1. He fed the puck to Hunter Garlent cruising down the slot. Weninger moved to his left to face off against Garlent, but the Rush forward went across the crease and looked like he had the Thunder goaltender completely out of position. Somehow, Weninger was able to slide his body against the direction he had been heading, making an unbelievable glove save.
The Thunder extended their lead to three at 15:14 of the third. With the man-advantage, Beauregard fired a shot that Carlson saved, but the puck went right to Dean Stewart, who blasted a one-timer by the Rush netminder for his third goal of the year.
After firing 44 shots on Weninger and coming away empty-handed each time, the Rush finally got on the board at 17:32 with a power play goal. Andrew Sturtz fired a slapshot from near the right faceoff circle that found the back of the net for his third goal of the year. That made it 3-1, but the Rush would get no closer.
Weninger stopped 50 of 51 shots to earn the victory. He is now 10-3-3 with a 2.56 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
The Thunder close out their four-game series against Rapid City on Tuesday night. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.
By Robert Pannier