Wichita Thunder Win in OT Again, Down Brampton Beast 5-4
If the Wichita Thunder are looking for a slogan, it could easily be “We are never out of it.” For the second straight game the team proved this moniker to be true, battling back from a two-goal deficit late and winning in overtime. With the win Wichita (27-21-2-5) moved to third in the Central Division, and is tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with division rival Rapid City.
For the second straight game, Wichita fell behind 2-0 early. Stephone Thorne staked the Brampton Beast to a 1-0 lead just 2:19 into the contest when he went top shelf over the shoulder of Thunder goalie Grant Rollheiser for his eighth goal of the season.
The score remained a one-goal game through the first intermission, but at the start of the second period the Beast took the initiative again, pressuring the Thunder continuously. A boarding penalty by Danick Gauthier a little over a minute before the first period ended gave Brampton a five minute power-play, and earned Gauthier the early shower. The Beast took advantage of the extended man-advantage, scoring at 2:03 of the second period to take a 2-0 lead. Dalton Thrower recorded his first goal of the season.
The game remained 2-0 through the halfway point, but at 12:01 of the second period Justin Bernhardt cut the deficit in half with his eighth goal of the year. Bernhardt fed a nice pass to Dan Wilson, who returned it back to Bernhardt. The pass caught Beast goalie Trevor Cann out of position, and the center man tipped it in for the goal.
It did not take long for Brampton to restore their two-goal lead, as less than four minutes later Brett Lyon tipped a shot from David Ling past Rollheiser for his fifth goal of the year.
If Brampton was going to get any momentum out of that goal it was short-lived. Nikita Kashirsky’s shot on net was initially saved by Cann, but Jared Walker was Johnny on the spot, putting it in the goal for his 12th of the season. That made the score 3-2 heading into intermission.
Like in the previous two periods, the Beast came out of the locker room like monsters, controlling the play and maintaining possession in the Wichita end. The tenacious fore-checking paid off when Ling flipped a backhander over the glove of Rollenheiser to extend the lead back to two.
It stayed that way but, much like the previous game against the Rapid City Rush, the Thunder mounted a late comeback. Just after reaching halfway through the third period RG Flath took a shot that Cann saved, but Nikita Kashirsky was right there on the door step to knock it in for his 14th goal of the year,
Less than four minutes later, Ian Lowe made a great pass to Todd Hosmer in front of the net. He shoveled the puck home and just like that the game was tied. The goal was Hosmer’s 17th this season.
The score remained tied through regulation, forcing overtime. Brampton began the extra period controlling play, much like they had in the previous three periods, and it looked like the Beast would close out the contest right away, but Rollheiser stoned Jason Pitton twice to keep the score tied.
Finally at 3:33 of OT, the Thunder would send the crowd home happy. Kirill Tulupov fired a shot from the blue-line that Cann made a nice save on, but Mike Wilson was charging toward the net. The puck hit off his shin guard and into the goal, giving the Thunder the win. The game winner was Wilson’s ninth of the year. For Wilson it was a very special goal, as it marked the 200th point of his professional career. He was also named the game’s third star.
Kashirsky added a goal and an assist, moving his point scoring streak to seven games (5 G, 5 A). Rollheiser won his ninth game of the year, making 28 saves on 32 shots. Wilson finished with a goal and three assists.
The two teams will square off again Sunday afternoon. The faceoff is scheduled for 2 PM.
By Robert Pannier