MacDonald Three-Point Night Leads Thunder to Third Straight Win
WICHITA, KS – The temperatures may be frightful outside INTRUST Bank Arena but, inside, the Wichita Thunder are heating up, winning their third straight and their seventh in the last 10 games, as they knocked off the Rapid City Rush on Thursday, 5-1. Cole McDonald led the way with three assists, and Jay Dickman and Michal Stinil each had a goal and an assist. Zachary Émond was impressive in net, stopping 36 shots to keep himself undefeated at 3-0-0.
Wichita struck 10:25 into the contest as Stinil delivered a power-play tally to give his team a 1-0 lead. McDonald moved the puck to Stinil near the left face-off circle, who blasted a one-timer by Rapid City netminder Daniil Chechelev for his 12th goal of the year. Stinil has scored goals and five of the last six games, recording seven total goals in that span.
In the second, Wichita added two more goals to extend their lead to three. The first came at 6:43 when Stinil fed the puck to Quinn Preston who lifted a wrist shot past Chechelev for his eighth goal of the year. Preston has four goals in his last four games.
Nine minutes later it was Jake Wahlin scoring his sixth goal of the season. Dickman took a shot that Chechelev saved, but Wahlin was able to scoop up the rebound, tucking it inside the left post to send the Thunder to the second intermission up by three.
The Thunder were not done, as Brayden Watts extend the lead to four 3:32 into the third period, scoring a shorthanded goal. McDonald setup the player, making a great move to evade two defensemen on his way into the Rapid City zone. There, he found Watts in the slot, who drilled home a shot to beat the Rush netminder for his 15th goal of the year. Watts now has goals in three straight games and points in his last five contests, recording eight total points during that span.
Rapid City had no answers for Émond through the first 52 minutes of this contest, but Alex Aleardi finally broke the shutout streak 12:43 into the period. Ilya Nikolaev found Aleardi at the left face-off circle, who drilled home a one to beat the Thunder netminder for his ninth goal of the season.
Émond got a little revenge with 31 seconds left in the contest, when he made a save, then passed the puck out to Dylan MacPherson. MacPherson found Dickman who put the puck in the empty net for his third goal of the season, giving Wichita a 5-1 lead. Émond earned an assist on the play.
Émond stopped 36 of 37 shots, lowering his goals-against average to 1.29. He has saved 105 of the 109 shots he has faced this season.
The Wichita Thunder (15-9-2) will take on the Rapid City Rush (13-4-0) on Friday night to close out their three-game set. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier