Three Goal Utah First Period Dooms Thunder
WICHITA, KS – The Utah Grizzlies took a three-goal lead in the first period and rolled from there, defeating the Wichita Thunder on Sunday, 5-2. Five different players scored goals for the Grizzlies and Trent Miner recorded 35 saves. Roman Basran allowed four goals in his professional debut, stopping 45 shots.
Utah grabbed the lead 8:23 into the contest when Jordan Martel scored his eighth goal of the year. With Utah on the power-play, Martel moved up along the boards moving toward the goal line before lifting a wrist shot that somehow found its way over the shoulder of Basran and in to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Kyle Pouncy extended the lead to two with his second goal of the year. James Shearer passed the puck to Pouncy at the right face-off circle, who fired a wrist shot past the Thunder netminder to make it to-zero.
A little less than a minute later Tyler Penner extended the lead to three, scoring his 10th goal of the season. Martel took a shot that was deflected near the net. That left the puck loose, where Penner was able to knock it in.
The Thunder gave up 21 shots in the first period while putting up 14 of their own, but came away empty-handed. In the second, the Thunder put up 14 more shots, this time scoring two goals to cut the deficit to one. Cole MacDonald got Wichita on the board at 4:08 when he netted his sixth goal of the season. With the puck loose in the Grizzlies zone, Peter Bates was able to knock it toward MacDonald, who sped in on net, making a nice toe-drag across the slot before taking a shot that beat Miner low to the blocker.
Four minutes later, Gavin Gould put in his second goal of the season. Brett Van Os carried the puck into the Utah zone, looking like he was going to sweep behind the net, but then fed the puck out to Gould, who buried a one-timer to make it 3-2.
Wichita was right back in the contest, but Shearer scored right at the 14-minute mark to give Utah a two-goal advantage. With 48 seconds left in the game, Dylan Fitze sealed the victory with an empty net tally, his 15th of the year.
The loss dropped the Thunder (26-25-5) to 0-6-1 in their last seven. Wichita drops to fourth place in the Mountain Division. They will look to snap the skid when they travel to Rapid City to take on the Rush (24-29-1) in a three-game series beginning on Thursday. The puck drops at 8:05 Wichita time.
by Robert Pannier