Kalamazoo Power-Play Proves to Be Downfall for Thunder in 6-4 Loss
The Kalamazoo Wings entered Saturday night’s game converting just 14.3 percent of their power-play opportunities this season. However, on this night, they would be virtually unstoppable, scoring three goals with the man advantage, as the Wings downed the Wichita Thunder, 6-4. Travis Brown had a big night for Wichita, scoring a goal and adding 2 assists in the loss. Tyler Biggs had 3 assists for Kalamazoo.
The Thunder jumped on the board at the 6:13 mark of the first period. Evan Polei made a move down the right side boards with a burst of speed and moved in front of the Kalamazoo net. As Polei came in front he passed the puck to Travis Brown on the other side of the net, who fired it in for his seventh goal of the season and second goal in as many nights.
At 12:28 of the first period, Kalamazoo was able to tie the score. With Wichita unable to clear the puck out of their own end, Tyler Biggs passed the puck out in front to Justin Taylor whose shot was initially saved by Joel Rumpel, but Taylor was able to gain control of the puck again and put the rebound in for his 19th goal of the season.
The second period began with Kalamazoo controlling the play. At 2:10 of the frame, Jimmy Mullin took a shot that was saved by Rumpel, but he regained the puck swooping behind net, then passing out in front to J.T. Stenglein who buried the one timer for his fifth goal of the season.
At the 11:30 mark in the second period, Kevin Dufour and Travis Ewanyk used the give and go perfectly to tie the score. Ewanyk passed the puck back to Dufour deep in the Kalamazoo end. He then gave it back to Ewanyk along the Wings goal line. The forward moved in front of the net with a power move and put the puck in for his 11th goal of the season to tie the score. The assist by Dufour gave him points in all six games since he was acquired by the Thunder.
It did not remain tied for long. Just 16 seconds later, the Wings retook the lead. Scott Henegar passed the puck to Tyler Biggs, who fed Kyle Bushee for the goal. It was Bushee’s seventh of the season.
With 6:45 left in the second it looked like Wichita would tie the score when Samuel Thibault fired a shot that Michael Garteig saved, but the puck bounced off his glove and over his head, looking like it was going to bounce into the net, but somehow did not cross the line.
The scramble drew a penalty by Kalamazoo, and the Thunder converted right away. Just 14 seconds into the man advantage, the puck moved quickly to Lane Bauer at the right faceoff circle, who blasted the one-timer in for his eighth goal of the season. The tally was the first time Wichita scored on the power-play in four contests.
The Wings used the power-play to retake the lead at the 15:09 point of the second as it was the Taylor-Biggs combination again. Biggs made a great pass to Taylor to the right of Rumpel, who fired a shot that hit off a Thunder player and went in just under the crossbar to make it 4-3 Wings.
A power-play opportunity early in the third would give Kalamazoo the chance to extend their lead to two and they took advantage. At the 3:22 mark, Aaron Irving passed the puck back to Brendan Bradley at the point who fired a wrist shot that beat the Thunder goalie for his sixth goal of the year. That made it 5-3.
The Thunder were reeling, but the combination of Polei and Brown produced a score that made it a one goal game. Brown had control of the puck near the right faceoff circle and made a pass across the goal mouth as he was being pushed down. The puck came to Polei who blasted the one timer in for his sixth goal of the year. The assist gave Brown his third point of the night, and fifth in two games.
At the 12:48 mark in the third period, the Wings added their third power-play goal of the night. Jimmy Mullin fired a shot that the Wichita goalie saved, but he regained control of the puck, swept around the net, firing the wrap around in for his eighth goal of the season. That made it 6-4.
Travis Brown had a goal and 2 assists for the Wichita Thunder. Ralph Cuddemi had 2 assists and Lane Bauer and Evan Polei both had a goal and an assist. Tyler Biggs had 3 assists for Kalamazoo. Justin Taylor had 2 goals and both Scott Henegar and Jimmy Mulliin had a goal and an assist.
These two teams will faceoff again tomorrow. The puck drops at 4:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier