Lane Breaks Thunder Hearts – Again; Oilers Win, 4-3
It is becoming a habit with Tulsa Oilers forward Matt Lane. Whenever the Wichita Thunder find a way to get back into games, Lane crushes those hopes. That was the case again on Sunday afternoon, when the Oilers forward scored the game-winner short-handed with 6:25 left in the contest to help Tulsa to a 4-3 victory. The goal was the fourth game-winner for Lane against the Thunder this season.
Tulsa got off to a great start, taking the lead on an Alex Kromm goal 1:46 into the contest. Alan Lyszczarczyk gained control of the puck in the corner inside the Wichita zone, dishing it out to Kromm, who had found a soft spot just above the right face-off circle. He blasted a one-timer that beat Thunder goaltender Evan Buitenhuis for his second goal of the season.
Wichita responded at the 14:43 mark when Anthony Beauregard scored on the power-play for his 19th goal of the season. Dean Stewart and Beauregard were playing catch with the puck until Beauregard began to move himself out toward the blue line, then down the slot before firing array shot that beat Oilers netminder Devin Williams over the shoulder to tie the game at one.
Tulsa retook the lead a little less than three minutes later on Lane’s first goal of the game. Vincent Marleau entered the Thunder zone, firing a shot that Buitenhuis saved, but Lane had moved past two Wichita defenders, gaining control of the rebound in the slot before firing it home for his 13th goal of the year.
The lead held for just over 18 minutes when Matteo Gennaro scored at the 15:28 mark of the second period to tie the score at two. Once again, it would be a power-play goal for Wichita. This time, Beauregard made a beautiful cross slot pass to Gennaro just above the right face-off circle. He blasted a one-timer by Williams for his 16th goal of the year.
With 2:01 left in the second, Tulsa took their third one-goal lead of the game. Off the draw deep in the Wichita end, Gregg Cockerill gained control of the puck and fired a quick wrist shot that Buitenhuis never saw for his sixth goal of the season.
The Thunder were trailing for the third time in the game, but would respond once again, tying the score at the 5:29 mark of the third. Spencer Dorowicz made a nice play behind the Tulsa net, battling to gain control the puck before dishing it to the side to Brayden Watts, who fired a shot that was saved by Williams. However, the rebound came out in front where Stephen Johnson blasted it in for his third goal of the year.
With 6:25 left in the contest and the Thunder on the power-play, the team was in a great position to take their first lead of the contest, but it would be Lane who would break their hearts once again. A beautiful homerun pass out of his own zone by Cockerill caught Lane at the Wichita blue line. He moved in on a breakaway, sweeping across the crease before firing a wrist shot over the leg pad of the Wichita netminder for his second goal of the game. That would prove to be the game-winner as the Oilers held on for the 4-3 victory.
With his two goals on the afternoon, Lane now has seven goals against the Thunder. The loss dropped Wichita to 30-15-5, just one percentage point ahead of the Allen Americans for the second spot in the Western Conference.
The Thunder will get a chance to increase their lead over the Americans on Tuesday when they travel to Allen. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier