Minerva Scores Two as Thunder Win in Shootout, 4-3
TULSA, OK – Nick Minerva scored his first two goals of the season, the second of which forced overtime, where Jay Dickman delivered the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout to lead the Wichita Thunder to a 4-3 victory over the Tulsa Oilers. Evan Buitenhuis proved to be the difference in this game, making 44 saves. Tulsa goaltender Daniel Mannella was nearly as good, stopping 26 of 29 shots.
Tulsa dominated the first period, outshooting Wichita 17-5. They had several great scoring chances, including a perfect feed out from to Jordan Ernst for a one-timer, but Buitenhuis was spectacular, keeping this game scoreless for nearly 17 minutes.
Finally, the Oilers broke through at 16:38. With the faceoff to the right of Buitenhuis, Eddie Matsushima won the draw back behind him. Jake Pappalardo quickly retrieved the puck, firing a wrist shot that beat a screened Buitenhuis for his first goal of the year.
Tulsa held the 1-0 lead into the second, but the Thunder scored back-to-back goals in the span of 2:35. The first came at 1:56. Jay Dickman fired a shot that Mannella saved, but Carter Johnson battled through a cross-check, gaining control of the puck, then moving to his backhand before tucking it inside the far post giving him goals in three straight games.
At 4:31, Minerva scored his first goal of the night. Sean Allen moved the puck to Minerva at the top of the left faceoff circle. He fired a shot that Mannella got his glove out, but the puck squirted out and into the net to give Wichita a 2-1 lead.
The lead did not last long as Carson Denomie scored almost exactly three minutes later. Matsushima fired a shot that was saved, but the rebound was loose in front and Denomie was able to knock it in for his first goal of the year.
The score remained tied into the third, but Tulsa retook the lead at 12:49. Matsushima fired a shot Buitenhuis made a nice pad save on, but the puck hit off Cam Clarke’s skate and in to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead.
It looked like Tulsa would came away with the victory, but Minerva delivering the tying goal at 16:02. Brayden Watts set up the play, battling for the puck along the boards through the neutral zone and into the Oilers end. Three times he lost the puck, but was somehow able to regain control each time, eventually moving off the boards where he found Minerva in the slot. The defenseman fired a shot that beat Mannella over the glove for his second goal of the game.
That forced the game into overtime, where Wichita had two great scoring chances early in the extra session. That included when Tim Soderlund made a great pass from behind the net out in front to Matteo Gennaro, who fired a one-timer up high, but Mannella was able to flash his glove out and make the save.
With neither team scoring in OT, the game went to a shootout. Logan Coomes scored on the first attempt for Tulsa, but Soderlund tied the game in the second round. Both teams scored in Round 3, but neither could find the back of the net in the next two rounds. That set up Round 6, where Buitenhuis stopped Ernst, but Dickman was able to slide the puck through the five-hole of Mannella to give the Thunder the victory.
Johnson finished with a goal and an assist for Wichita. Matsushima had a goal and two assists for Tulsa.
These two teams change venues for Saturday night as they return to INTRUST Bank Arena. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier