Safin Secures Thunder Victory with Pair of Goals, 5-2
Ostap Safin scored two goals to help secure a 5-2 Wichita Thunder victory over the Tulsa Oilers. Tulsa battled back from one goal deficits twice in this contest, but Jason Salvaggio scored the game winner late in the second to help Wichita snap a two game losing skid. Evan Weninger stopped 41 shots to earn the victory.
The Wichita Thunder got off to a great start, taking the lead just 15 seconds into the contest. The Thunder won the opening draw and immediately moved into the Tulsa end. The Oilers were able to gain control, but Spencer Dorowicz forced a turnover with a relentless forecheck. He looked to pass the puck out front to Safin, but it hit off an Oilers defender and in for his eighth goal of the year.
The one-goal lead held heading into the first intermission, despite the fact that Tulsa outshot Wichita 16-14 in the first. Weninger was the difference early on. He made a couple of great saves, including at 6:52 when Ian McNutty was all alone in front of the Wichita net. He took a feed from the point, looking to redirect the puck between the Thunder goalie’s legs, but Weninger quickly got in front of the attempt to quash the attempt.
With three minutes left, Robby Jackson came in on net on a 2-on-none, looking to tuck the puck between Weninger’s legs but, once again, the Thunder goalie stood tall, denying Jackson any kind of real shot.
The Oilers put the pressure on early in the second, taking six of the first eight shots and that resulted in them tying the score. At 3:51, with Tulsa on the power-play, J.J. Piccinich made a great cross ice feed to Josh Wesley who was crashing the net. He was able to redirect a shot that just snuck past Weninger and in for his eighth goal of the year.
Less than three minutes later, the Thunder retook the lead. With the Thunder on the power-play, the puck was passed to Safin at the blue line. He fired a wrist shot that worked its way through a maze of players and past Devin Williams for his ninth goal of the year.
At the midway mark of the second, Tulsa tied the score again with their second power play goal of the contest. Cam Knight took a feed at the faceoff circle to the right of Weninger. He fired a wrist shot that somehow crept through the pads of the Thunder goalie and in to tie the score at two.
The Thunder would not allow this game to go to the second break tied, as Jason Salvaggio scored with 2:27 left in the period to put Wichita back on top for good. Stefan Fournier carried the puck behind the Oilers net, then made a great pass in front to Salvaggio who was cruising down the slot. He blasted a one-timer by Williams for his third goal of the year, putting the Wichita Thunder on top, 3-2.
The Oilers absolutely dominated the third period, outshooting Wichita, 14-5. However, the Thunder would take advantage of their opportunities, netting two in the frame to seal the victory.
The first came at 12:02. Safin raced into the Tulsa end, passing the puck along the boards to Dorowicz. He gave it back to Safin, who then fed the pass to Brendan De Jong at the point. De Jong’s shot hit off the back bar for his second goal of the year to extend the lead to two.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Safin added his second goal of the contest. With Williams pulled, Patrik Parkkonen fed the puck up the left boards to Safin who fired a shot from the redline that found the back of the empty net. That made it 5-2, which would be the final.
Safin finished with two goals and an assist. Dorowicz also had three points for Wichita, scoring a goal while adding two assists. Parkkonen had two assists.
The Wichita Thunder remain in Tulsa to take on the Oilers on Sunday. The opening faceoff is set for 4:05.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image Courtesy of the Wichita Thunder