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As I drove out of Stillwater yesterday afternoon on my way to Wichita for the game I saw the news that Stephen Schultz had been suspended from the Wichita Thunder team. With his very good start to the season — leading the Thunder in points with 13 (3g, 10a) — I had no doubt that he was heading to Europe for a better paying gig, and who could blame him. But where did that leave the Thunder? In dire trouble, so it seemed, until last night’s shutout of the Missouri Mavericks.

As noted in Tuesday’s recap of the Thunder vs Oilers, the Wichita team seemed to be at the turning point this week, and even without Schultz last night they demonstrated that in a clear, decisive and rather resounding 6-0 shutout of the Missouri Mavericks. The game started slowly, and as typical for the Thunder, a bit shaky, but they were able to score on a powerplay at 7:58 into the 1st with a goal from Danick Gauthier (assists by T. Peckham and T. Hosmer) and from that point on the Thunder rolled.

The team played exceedingly well, offensively and defensively, as a group last night and played a full game of cohesive, fast, smart hockey. They retained possession much better and had very good positioning setting up their plays. Overall they were much better at knowing where their teammates were on the ice and able to use it to their advantage. They are looking very comfortable as a team which is a huge step forward for the Thunder. To top that off, they played with a great deal of intensity and drive last night. It took awhile to get there, but the team has made great strides since last month! Well done Thunder!

Thunder Noteworthy:

Tyler Bunz earned his second professional shutout with a 27-save performance, along with an assist on Thunder’s 2nd goal, and his second win in the Thunder organization.

Kirill Tulupov earned his second Thunder goal of the season, in back-to-back games, and led the team last night in shots on goal with 5.

Danick Gauthier (2 Powerplay goals), Ian Lowe (1g, 1a), Theo Peckham (2a) and Nikita Kashirsky (2a) each had two points.

Danick Gauthier’s 2nd goal of the night just beat the buzzer at 19:59 in the 2nd period.

Ian Lowe’s goal was a beautiful shorty to tally Thunder’s 6th and final goal of the game.

Wichita leads the Independence Cup Series 3-1-0-0.

1st Period:

0-1 at 7:58 – Powerplay Goal by D. Gauthier, assists by T. Peckham, T. Hosmer.

2nd Period:

0-2 at 0:45 – Goal by M. Trebish, assists by R. Flath, Tyler Bunz.

0-3 at 6:30 – Goal by K. Tulupov, assists by I. Lowe, N. Kashirsy.

0-4 at 19:59 – Powerplay Goal by D. Gauthier, assists by T. Peckham, M. Wilson

3rd Period:

0-5 at 6:06 – Goal by K. Miller, assists by N. Kashirsky, E. Meland.

0-6 at 12:46 – Shorthanded Goal by I. Lowe, assist by K. Bartliff.

The Wichita Thunder face the Tulsa Oilers at the BOK Center this afternoon at 4:05 p.m.