Parkkonen Completes Thunder Comeback with OT Game-Winner, 5-4
It looked like it was going to be a blowout on Tuesday evening, as the Rapid City Rush held a 4-0 lead less than five minutes into the second period. However, the Wichita Thunder pulled off a dramatic comeback, scoring five unanswered goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to defeat the Rush, 5-4. Partrik Parkkonen scored the game-winner with 21 seconds left in the extra session for the skate-off goal. Alex Sakellaropoulos earned the victory, stopping all 25 shots he faced after taking over between the pipes.
The Rush jumped out to a 1-0 lead 2:03 into the contest. Eric Israel dished the puck ahead to Peter Quenneville in the neutral zone. Quenneville burst between two Thunder defenders, carrying the puck into the Wichita end. He moved in on Evan Weninger, firing a wrist shot that beat the Thunder netminder to the glove side for his seventh goal of the year.
At 13:19, Rapid City extended their lead to two. Hunter Garlent had the puck behind the Thunder net. With his back to goal, Garlent made a great no-look backward pass to Stephen Baylis, who was moving down the slot. Baylis fired a wrist shot that beat the Thunder goalie for his fourth goal of the year.
Wichita had outshot Rapid City 13-8 in the first but were trailing by two. That deficit became three 1:26 into the period. Andrew Sturtz fired a shot that Weninger saved, however the rebound was loose in the crease. The Wichita defenseman was not able to clear the puck out and Weninger could not reach it. That allowed Garlent to move in and put the loose puck by the Wichita goaltender and it looked like the rout was on.
Three minutes later it was 4-0. Quenneville made a great pass out of his own end through the neutral zone to Garrett Klotz just outside the Wichita blueline. Klotz made a nice move that tangled the feet of the Thunder defenseman, forcing him to the ice. Klotz then moved in on the Thunder net, looking like he was going to his backhand getting Weninger leaning toward his left, then went across the crease and tucked in the puck for his first goal of the year.
That would be it for Weninger. Sakellaropoulos came on and the whole feel of the game suddenly changed.
At 9:08, the Thunder got on the board. Spencer Dorowicz picked up a loose puck in the Rush end. He fired a backhander that Gordon Defiel got a piece of, but the puck squirted though his pads and crept across the goal line for Dorowicz’s first goal of the season.
The Rush held a three-goal advantage heading into the third period, but it was all Thunder in the frame. They outshot Rapid City 18-8 in the period, helping them to tie the score.
Rapid City had withstood the onslaught early on, keeping Wichita out of the net for the first 13 minutes of the period. However, at 13:09, the Thunder came out of their end on a 3-on-2 break. Anthony Beauregard passed the puck to Jay Dickman as they crossed into the Rapid City end. Dickman fired a shot from just inside the left faceoff circle that Beauregard tipped in for his 10th goal of the year.
With 1:21 left, the Thunder cut the deficit to one. With Sakellaropoulos out for the extra attacker, Parkkonen passed the puck to the point to Dean Stewart who fired a wrist shot that beat Defiel to the glove side for his fifth goal.
Less than a minute later it would be Stewart again. Using the almost identical play as the previous goal, Matteo Gennaro fed the puck to the point to Stewart who fired another wrist shot that found its way through a lot of traffic and in to tie the score at four.
That forced overtime where the Thunder would win it at 6:39. Stewart led a 2-on-1 break into the Rapid City end. He fed the puck to Parkkonen who made a move to his forehand, getting Defiel leaning, then tucked the backhand attempt through the legs of the Rush netminder for his second goal of the year.
Parkkonen finished with a goal and an assist. Stewart and Beauregard each had a goal and two assists, and Gennaro had three assists to lead the Thunder offense. Sakellaropoulos held the Rush scoreless after entering the contest. Quenneville had a goal and an assist for Rapid City.
With the victory, the Thunder moved to 18-6-3. Wichita has Wednesday and Thursday off before welcoming the Utah Grizzlies to town on Friday. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier