Fournier Returns to Lead Thunder to 7-5 Victory over Mavericks
INTRUST Bank Arena may be the home stadium for the Wichita Thunder, but the team has owned Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence the season, moving to 8-0-1 in nine games there this season after a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Mavericks on Tuesday evening. Stefan Fournier returned from an injury to score two goals, including the game-winner and three other Thunder players had two points in the game. The loss ruined a spectacular night for Greg Moro, who recorded four points for Kansas City.
After a scoreless first., Wichita took the lead on a spectacular play by ECHL point leader Anthony Beauregard. He carried the puck into the Mavericks zone on a 2-on-1 break, looking to go across the slot the Fournier. However, a Mavericks defenseman sprawled out on the ice trying to clog the lane to deny Beauregard both the shot and the pass. However, he made an incredible spin-o-rama move, moving around the defenseman before making a no-look pass to Fournier who blasted the one time or by Matt Ginn for his 18th goal of the season. That came just 1:21 into the second period.
Five minutes later, Kansas City tied the game. Giorgio Estephan, who returned to the Mavericks from the AHL, tied the score with his eighth goal of the season. Estephan carried the puck across the slot, firing a wrist shot that beat Ian Scott to tie the game at one.
The Thunder responded a little over three minutes later. The Mavericks were looking to clear the puck out of their zone, but Dean Stewart sped ahead, hustling to keep the puck inside the zone, then making a great feed to Matteo Gennaro at the back door, who tipped in the redirect for his 22nd goal of the season, giving Wichita a 2-1 lead.
At the 10:15 mark, Kansas City tied the game for the second time in the contest. While on the power-play, Scott was in a tough situation when the Mavericks had a 3-on-1 down low. He came out to play Willie Corrin, who simply moved the puck down to Darik Angeli at the corner of the net. Angeli redirected it in for his 17th goal of the year.
The Thunder responded with two unanswered goals to give them a 4-2 lead. The first came at 14:31 when Beauregard scored his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. Stewart passed the puck across the slot to Beauregard, who fired a shot that Ginn saved, but the rebound came right back to the Wichita forward who put it back in to put his team on top by a goal.
Just 34 seconds later, Greg Schmitz extended the lead to two. Spencer Dorowicz moved in on the Mavericks goal just below the left face-off circle. He dished the puck across the crease to Schmitz who was moving down the slot. The Thunder defenseman simply needed to redirect the puck into the near empty net for his fifth tally of the year.
Kansas City responded with a goal a little over two minutes later to pull back within one. Moro moved down the slot, firing a shot that Scott saved, but the rebound came out to Lane Scheidl, who corralled it, then pulled it to his forehand before tucking the puck just inside the left goalpost for his 16th tallying of the year.
It was an amazing turnaround in this game, as neither team was able to light the lamp in the first period, but the teams combined for seven goals in the second. The scoring continued into the third. Scott came out with a minor injury, as Evan Buitenhuis took over, and the Mavericks would score a little over three minutes into the final frame. A bad turnover gave the Mavericks a 3-on-1 opportunity entering the Wichita zone. Jared VanWormer made a great pass across the slot to Nick Pastujov, who drove home the one-timer past an outstretched Buitenhuis to tie the score at four.
The Thunder responded right away, as Brayden Watts gave his team back the lead just 23 seconds after the Pastujov tally. Watts stole the puck from a Kansas City defenseman at the Wichita blueline, then headed the other direction on a breakaway. He moved in on Ginn, then fired a wrist shot that beat the Mavericks goaltender over the shoulder for his seventh goal of the season.
Just after the 10-minute mark, Moro scored his first goal of the year to tie the score at five. Estephan passed the puck back to the point to Moro, who slid across the blueline before firing a wrist shot that beat a screened Buitenhuis.
As they had done all contest long, Wichita would retake the lead just 32 seconds after the Moro goal. Matthieu Gagnon was trying to clear the puck out of his own end, dumping it into the neutral zone where Fournier was able to scoop it up, moving in on a breakaway. He fended off a Kansas City defenseman before moving across the crease, tucking the forehand attempt past Ginn for his second goal of the game.
With a little less than one minute left in the contest, Jay Dickman added an empty net goal, his 16th tally of the season, to seal the victory. That made it 7-5.
Besides the two goals from Fournier, Beauregard and Dickman each had a goal and an assist for the Thunder. Stewart had two assists, extending his point streak to 11 straight games. Buitenhuis earned the victory, stopping eight of 10 shots in the third period. Estephan, Angeli, and Scheidl each had a goal and an assist for the Mavericks.
The victory moved Wichita to 35-16-8, extending their lead over the Allen Americans for second place in the Western Conference to nine percentage points. The 78 points is the most in the ECHL.
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier