David Tendeck, Rapid City Blank Thunder, 3-0
The Wichita Thunder entered Friday night’s contest as winners of three straight at home, but David Tendeck made sure they did not win a fourth straight. The goaltender stopped all 27 shots he faced leading the Rapid City Rush to a 3-0 victory over the Thunder at INTRUST Bank Arena. Tyson Empey had a big night for Rapid City, assisting on all three goals.
Rapid City took control of this contest from the very start, outshooting Wichita 18-7 in the first period. Thunder netminder Evan Weninger was peppered all period long and had to come up with a series of great saves to even keep his team in the game.
Weninger was spectacular, especially at the five-minute mark. Butrus Ghafari fired a shot that the Thunder goalie saved, but the rebound came right to Avery Peterson, who put the rebound back on net. Weninger came up big again, blocking the attempt, but the rebound came back to Peterson who looked like he would find a hole, but Weninger would not relent, stopping three shots in the span of a few seconds.
The ice was definitely tilting in Rapid City’s way and that resulted in a goal at 11:51. Empey passed the puck to Andrew Sturtz, who shuttled it over to Charlie Curti. He fired a low wrist shot that somehow found its way through a sea of players and past Weninger for his second goal of the season.
The Rush took their 1-0 lead into the second, but this time it was Wichita’s turn to control the play. The Thunder forecheck was relentless, making it difficult for Rapid City to get the puck out of their end. That led to several good scoring chances, as Wichita outshot Rapid City 14-3 in the frame.
However, Tendeck was brilliant, especially just before the 16-minute mark. Patrick Parkkonen fired a shot that Tendeck saved, but the rebound came right to Noel Hoefenmayer. He looked like he had an open net, but the Rush goaltender was somehow able to get himself in front of the puck to make the save.
Just before time expired in the second, Anthony Beauregard fired a shot that looked like it was destined for the back of the net, but Tendeck knocked it aside as the horn sounded, denying the tying goal.
This contest became a game of periods, and the third was all Rapid City. They outshot Wichita 15-6 in the frame and would add two insurance goals in the span of one minute to seal the victory.
At the 15:32 mark, Empey carried the puck into the Thunder zone, then directed a pass to Cedric Montminy in the slot. He fired a wrist shot that beat Weninger for his sixth goal of the year. It was a milestone night for Montminy, who was playing in his 100th game for the team.
Just 50 seconds later, the lead became three. Empey fed a brilliant pass into the neutral zone to Tyler Coulter, sending him on a breakaway. He attempted to go five-hole on the Thunder goalie but Weninger made the save. However, the rebound was loose in the crease and Coulter was able to knock in the loose puck for his sixth goal of the year.
Tendeck stopped all 27 shots for his first professional shutout. He is now 2-5-0 on the season. Weninger fell to 3-1-1. The Thunder dropped to 7-3-1 (15 points), remaining in second place because of winning percentage (.682).
Wichita will take on Rapid City (6-10-0) again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier