Vincent Arseneau Ends Comeback as Thunder Prevail, 7-5
The Wichita Thunder entered Saturday night’s contest against the Missouri Mavericks as losers of six straight games at home. They had scored just four goals during that span, but had that many through the first period on this night. The Thunder jumped out to a 5-2 lead, only to see the Mavericks make a comeback to tie the score before Vincent Arseneau added his second goal of the contest to help Wichita prevail 7-5.
The game started with the Mavericks controlling play through the first five minutes of the contest, but the Thunder would quickly gain control of this game. Ryan Rupert would give Wichita the lead at the 5:07 mark. Zach O’Brien passed across the slot area to Rupert on the other side of the net, where he would wrist a shot over Eamon McAdam’s shoulder and into the net. It was Rupert’s second goal of the season.
Just 89-seconds later, the Thunder would be back on the board again. Rupert’s shot was saved but Alexis Loiseau was parked right in front of the net. He would poke the puck back on goal, sliding it just under McAdam and into the net for his 16th goal of the year.
At the 10:54 mark, the Wichita Thunder extended their lead to three. The Thunder were on the power-play and it looked like Missouri would be the one to capitalize when they entered the Wichita end on a 2-on-1 break. Reed Seckel took the shot that Drew Owsley made a nice save on and back the other way play went. Matt DeBlouw gained control of the puck along the boards and passed to Alexis Vanier at the point. The defenseman fired a low slapshot that went through the five-hole of the Mavericks goalie and into the net for his third goal of the year.
At the 13:36 mark it looked like Wichita would extend their lead to four. Landon Oslanski’s shot was stopped but bounced right to Rupert, who put the puck in the net. However, the referee waived it off, claiming that Rupert had interfered with the goaltender.
Just 31-seconds later the Mavericks would get on the scoreboard. Darren Nowick passed the puck down into the corner in the Wichita end. Matt Finn then passed to the front of the net, where Can Correale tipped the puck over Owsley’s pads and into the net for his fifth goal of the season.
The Thunder responded right away, extending the lead back to three 20-seconds later. Vincent Arseneau took a shot from the slot area that was stopped by McAdam, but it bounced off his chest protector, over the goalie and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.
About two minutes later the Mavericks cut the deficit back to two. Once again it would Correale. Dane Fox had control of the puck behind the Thunder goal and passed out to Correale who fired a one-timer in for his sixth goal of the year and second of the game.
If the first period seemed like a wild affair, then the perception was quite accurate. The Thunder pelted 28-shots on goal in the first and the two teams combined for 41 total shots.
In the second, the pace slowed down some and the Wichita Thunder extended their lead back to three. At the 8:38 mark, Rupert made a great pass across the slot area to Alexis Loiseau who was all alone. Loiseau went in on goal but was stopped by the new Mavericks goalie, Josh Robinson. However, Zach O’Brien was following the play and put the puck back in for his second goal of the year.
The Mavericks outshot the Thunder 15-12 in the period, but they trailed by three. In the third they would score three quick goals to tie the score. At the 2:07 mark, Missouri added a goal on the power-play. Carter Verhaeghe received a great pass in the slot from Nowick and he wristed the puck in for his second goal of the year.
A little over 80-seconds later they would make it a one-goal game. Verhaeghe passed the puck to Rocco Carzo in the slot, who tipped the puck into the goal for his 12th goal of the year.
The tide had definitely turned and it would get worse when Verhaeghe scored at the 12:08 mark to tie the game. Andrew Courtney passed the puck out from behind the net to Verhaeghe, who buried it for his second goal of the game.
The Thunder have been struggling in the third period lately, and it looked like they may let this one get away again, but Vincent Arseneau ended any hope of that about four minutes later. A giveaway in the Missouri end gave DeBlouw control of the puck. He passed to Arseneau, who fired a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle over the far shoulder of Robinson and into the net for his ninth goal of the year.
Less than 90-seconds later Rupert would put the game away. Another turnover gave the Thunder the puck deep in the Missouri end. Rupert had the puck right in front of the Mavericks net and lifted a backhander over the shoulder of the goalie and in for his third goal of the year.
Ryan Rupert finished the game with 2-goals and 2-assists. Vincent Arseneau had a 2-goals. Zach O’Brien and Alexis Loiseau each had a goal and 2-assists for the Thunder and Matt DeBlouw had 3-assists. The Mavericks were led by Carter Verhaeghe, who had 2-goals and an assist. Dan Correale scored 2-goals, and Andrew Courtney and Darren Nowick each had 2-assists.
After the contest the talk was of the offensive showcase, especially related to the 100 total shots the two teams fired on net. “I have never been in a game like that,” Wichita Thunder defenseman James Melindy explained. “We had 28-shots in the first period and that was just crazy. We usually have that in a whole game. Definitely a lot of chances out there tonight; way too many.”
The ECHL All-Star break now begins. The Wichita Thunder are off until Friday when they travel to Allen to take on the Americans. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier