Stinil Helps Thunder to 7-4 Victory over Rush
WICHITA, KS – Michal Stinil continues to heat up as December gets colder, recording four assists to help lead the Wichita Thunder to a 7-4 victory over the Rapid City Rush on Friday. Seven different players scored goals for Wichita and four players recorded two points. The win was the fourth in a row for the Thunder, who now lead Rapid City by eight points in the Mountain Division standings.
The Rush got on the board first, scoring 3:04 into the contest. This was a beautiful place set up my Keanu Yamamoto, who found Zach Court at the left post. Court simply redirected the pass by Evan Buitenhuis first goal of the year.
The Thunder responded five minutes later when Quinn Preston scored his ninth goal of the year. With the Thunder on the power-play, Jay Dickman tried to make a move through a Rapid City defenseman toward the right post, but Adam Carlson was able to make a save on Dickman. However, the puck was loose. Preston swooped in, pushing it past the Rush netminder to tie the score at one.
At 12:53, Jake Wahlin gave Wichita the lead. Sam Sternschein took a shot that Carlson saved, but Wahlin quickly moved in, knocking in the rebound opportunity for his seventh goal of the year.
Wichita took the one goal lead into the first intermission, but took advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity to extend their lead to three, scoring two goals in the span of 63 seconds. The first came at 6:26 when Cole MacDonald, who had three assists the previous night, netted his fourth goal of the year. Stinil passed the puck to MacDonald in the high slot, who wristed a laser past the Rapid City netminder to make it 3-1.
At 7:29, Peter Bates scored his fifth goal of the year, also coming on the power-play. Timur Ibragimov was able to get a shot off that Carlson saved but, as had been the case most of the evening, the rebound was loose and Bates was able to knock it in at the right post for his fifth goal of the year.
Former Thunder forward Logan Nelson cut the deficit to two at the 11:37 mark. This time it was Rapid City taking advantage of a power-play opportunity, as Nelson took a pass from Ryan Zuhlsdorf, before wristing a shot by Buitenhuis to make it 4-2.
Wichita carried a two-goal advantage into the second intermission, but quickly gave themselves a four-goal edge, scoring two goals within the first four minutes of the third period. Brayden Watts delivered a goal in his fourth straight game 1:15 into the period. Rapid City was trying to clear the puck out of their zone, but Stinil made a great play to keep it in, then found Watts near the crease. He received the pass, then drilled it past Carlson for his team-leading 16th goal of the season and fifth in the last four games.
At 3:58, Jay Dickman scored the fourth power-play goal of the game for Wichita. Stinil moved the puck toward the goal line, where Dickman was able to battle a Rapid City defenseman for the puck, before turning and finding an opening by Carlson for his fourth goal of the year.
The Rush were down, but responded with two goals in the span of 2:22 to cut the deficit to two. The first came at 8:23 when Rory Kerins beat Buitenhuis for his ninth goal of the year. At 10:45, Alex Aleardi took a Nelson pass, redirecting it by Buitenhuis for his 10th of the year.
The Rush were back in the contest, but Kenny Hausingered seal the victory with his second goal of the year with 2:15 left in the contest. It was the first goal for Hausinger since joining the Thunder.
Stinil finished with four assists and now has nine points over his last three games and 22 points over his last 11 contests, recording multiple point games in nine of those contests. Bates, Ibragimov, Dickman, and Preston each had two points for Wichita. Watts has points in six straight games. Preston has points in 10 straight games. Buitenhuis made 35 saves.
The Wichita Thunder (16-9-2) now have a few days off for the Christmas break. The team will take on the Allen Americans (8-15-1) on Wednesday at home. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier