Late Surge Propels Oilers to Drubbing of Thunder
WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder battled through a nailbiter with the Tulsa Oilers, finally able to tie the score a minute into the third period. However, Tulsa scored 15 seconds later and dominated from there, earning a 5-2 victory over Wichita on Saturday evening. Quinn Preston had two points for the Thunder. Max Golod had two goals in two assists to lead the Oilers.
Tulsa took the lead 13:45 in the contest when Tag Bertuzzi netted his 18th goal of the year. With Tulsa on the power-play, Karl Boudrias fired a shot from the point that Bertuzzi tipped past Wichita netminder Brad Arvanitis to make it 1-0.
This was a great defensive struggle through the first 40 minutes, as both Daniel Mannella and Arvinitis were spectacular. Arvinitis, making his first start for the Thunder, stopped 20 of 21 shots through the first two frames while Mannella had 22 saves.
Wichita had no answers for the Tulsa netminder, but finally got on the board at 1:03 of the third when Preston scored his 18th goal of the season on the power-play. Timur Ibragimov made a beautiful pass into the slot to Preston, who gained control the puck before lifting a wrist shot over the shoulder of the Oilers goaltender to tie the score at one.
The crowd of over 6400 was fired up and into the contest, but Golod silenced them, scoring 15 seconds later. Bertuzzi fired a shot that Arvinitis saved, but Golod scooped up the rebound, putting it in for his eighth goal of the year.
At 5:21, Logan Nijhoff extended the lead to two. He made a nice move into the slot, working his way around a Wichita defenseman before firing a shot that beat the Thunder netminder for his sixth goal of the year.
A little over a minute later Alex Gilmour extended the lead to three. He took a pass from Golod along the boards, then moved into just above the right face-off circle before lifting a wrist shot that beat Arvinitis over the blocker for his fourth goal of the year.
The Thunder were struggling to try to generate any opportunities against the Tulsa defense that was stymieing them in the center of the ice. However, with 27 seconds left in the game, Peter Bates delivered his 12th goal of the year to cut the deficit to two.
The Thunder were back in the contest, but had very little opportunity with just 27 seconds left. Golod clinched the victory with an empty net tally with four seconds left in the contest.
Preston finished with a goal and an assist for the Thunder. Arvinitis stopped 29 of 33 shots in his debut with the team. Golod now has five goals in his last two games against Wichita. Bertuzzi and Boudrias had two points for the Oilers.
The Wichita Thunder (26-20-4) will head to the road, as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Cyclones (29-12-8) on Friday. The puck drops at 6:05 Wichita time.
by Robert Pannier