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After a very rough stretch of losses the Wichita Thunder made a clear statement last night in their 5-0 shutout of the Rapid City Rush on Teddy Bear Toss Night in Wichita. The team is not finished and they will not go down quietly. Games such as this are made all the more sweet by the fact that all of the players contributed to this win — not just the players who have pluses and points next to their names on the game sheet, but every last one of them.

As Coach McClelland told Jeffrey Lutz, of the Wichita Eagle, “Everyone contributed tonight and that’s what we’ve got to be, that kind of team. We activated the defense a little more in the offensive zone, changed some things up on the forecheck. It looked like it worked pretty well, but let’s not let one game get us all excited and get ahead of ourselves.”

The season is still young, as McClelland said, but this is one of the first games where after that dismal 1st half of the first period the team all seemed to be working together with one goal in mind. Now they just have to build on this teamwork as they face tougher opponents in the future.

The first half of the 1st period was very typical for the Thunder — a slow, lackluster start, with only 1 shot on goal, compared to Rapid City’s 8 at about 10 minutes in, despite the Wichita powerplay. However Wichita finally started rolling on their 3rd powerplay opportunity as they capitalized with a goal by defenseman Mike Wilson (assisted by I. Duval and I. Lowe) at 15:03. Wilson, Tulupov, Lowe, Duval and Miller were declared this season’s Teddy Bear Line as the cheering crowd tossed stuffed animals onto the ice for their annual Teddy Bear Toss and Toys for Tots game.

At 17:10 into the 1st defenseman Eric Meland scored his first goal with the Thunder on another powerplay (assisted by N. Kashirsky and D. Gauthier) to put the Thunder up 2-0. At the end of the 1st Wichita had outshot Rapid City 13-10.

The Thunder continued their push in the 2nd period as Todd Hosmer put Wichita up 3-0 (with assists by K. Gibbons and E. Meland) at 14:35. Less than 5 minutes later at 19:05 Erick Lizon batted a puck out of the air, with his back facing the net (!!) to increase the lead to 4-0 (with assists by T. Hosmer and J. Walker). As written here in the past, Lizon can surprise us wonderfully at times, and perhaps himself as well. He’s played that Enforcer role for the team for so long that at times he forgets that he has some surprising skills in his repertoire. Use those skills, Erick!

Hosmer’s assist, along with his goal and fight earlier in the first awarded him the distinction of a Gordie Howe hat trick. The 2nd period ended with 12-9 shots on goal for Wichita.

The 3rd period started off on a powerplay and a new goalie for the Rush, as Etienne Marcoux replaced Danny Battochio, however it did not make much difference in the end. Wichita’s Kyle Gibbons scored at 14:40 (assisted by E. Meland and D. Gauthier) to increase the shutout to 5-0, and with that the Thunder called it a good night.

The 3rd ended with 19-6 shots on goal for the Thunder, and an overall 44-25 domination of shots on goal. Wichita’s penalty kill was 100% successful, killing off all 5 of Rapid City’s powerplays. While the Thunder was only able to capitalize on 2 of their 9 powerplay opportunities, it was still a decent night as the entire team stepped up to contribute. Tim Boron received the shutout win with an outstanding game and to be truthful, he should have at least tied as 1st Star of the Game.

Per Team Time Goals
1st WIC 15:03 M. Wilson (assists I. Duval, I. Lowe) — PP
1st WIC 17:10 E. Meland (N. Kashirsky, D. Gauthier) — PP
2nd WIC 14:35 T. Hosmer (K. Gibbons, E. Meland)
2nd WIC 19:05 E. Lizon (T. Hosmer, J. Walker)
3rd WIC 14:40 K. Gibbons (E. Meland, D. Gauthier)

 

Three Stars:
1. WIC – Eric Meland
2. WIC – Tim Boron
3. WIC – Todd Hosmer

The Wichita Thunder will be on the road to play in Tulsa at the BOK Center on Wednesday evening at 7:05p.m.

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