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Mount Rushmore

The Wichita Thunder depart Rapid City, South Dakota with two points and regain 2nd place in the Central Division with 44 points. The Thunder’s lack of quality shots on goal and defensive play hurt them this weekend, especially Friday night as they fell to the Rush 5-4, but they salvaged the weekend with their shootout win 4-3 on Saturday night.

For the first time in what seems like a long time the team played with a full roster of 10 forwards (Granbois, Kashirsky, Lowe, Walker, Flath, Hosmer, Lizon, Duval, Miller and Gauthier), 6 defensemen (Wilson, Milan, Tulupov, Meland, MacIntyre and Trebish), and 2 goaltenders (Bunz and Boron). Kyle Gibbons was placed on Reserve and Dalton Reum was placed on 21-day IR (retroactive to Jan. 9) on January 22nd. Kurtis Bartliff and Joe Caveney are also still on 21-day IR.

Kenton Miller and Dan Milan both returned to the team from their AHL call-ups, and Danick Gauthier returned from his successful ECHL All-Star Game.

| Wichita’s Shots and Shooting Efficiency:

“It’s obvious that there are two different factors that influence goal-scoring. The first is shot volume; all else being equal, more shots mean more goals. The second is shooting efficiency; if a player can find a way to take higher-quality shots he’s going to score more goals, even if his shot volume doesn’t change.” — Jonathan Willis talking about Edmonton Oilers’ Taylor Hall this season.

This is a long running story with the Wichita Thunder this season — shot volume and shot efficiency. Sometimes there is a lack of BOTH, and there is almost always a lack of shot efficiency. The team needs to concentrate on both of these elements — shoot far more and practice, practice, practice on those quality shots.

Jan. 23 — Wichita loss 5-4

SHOTS 1 2 3 T
Wichita 10 7 8 25
Rapid City 9 10 4 23

Jan. 24 — Wichita win in SO 4-3

Wichita 5 8 6 1 1 21
Rapid City 6 2 15 0 0 23

| Wichita’s Defensive Play:

Friday’s game was a back-and-forth scoring effort between the two teams as they ended the 1st period tied at 2-2, but Wichita’s defensive play started to break down fairly early. At 2:41 into the 2nd period Rapid City replaced their goaltender John Griggs with Danny Battochio immediately following Wichita’s 3rd goal by Todd Hosmer and Rapid City scored three more goals in the remainder of the 2nd and 3rd periods. Wichita was only able to get one more goal past Battochio for the 5-4 loss.

Saturday’s game started much better for the Thunder as they scored 3 goals in the 2nd to take the lead 3-1, however the 3rd period was a complete breakdown for the Thunder as Rapid City replaced their goaltender Battochio for Griggs, and they scored two back-to-back goals for the tie and pushed the game into overtime.

We’ve seen the Thunder play very good overall defensive hockey in the past, and I’m not just talking about the Thunder’s defensemen, but the entire team. The Rush’s Jesse Schultz is the team’s leader in goals and points and the Thunder have to be able to shut him down, but on Friday Schultz came away from that game with 1 goal and 4 assists — he had a point in every Rapid City goal scored that night. Saturday night however was a different story as the Thunder effectively shut him down completely.

Jan. 23 — Wichita loss 5-4

Period Team Time Goals
1st WIC 12:43 J. Walker (assists R. Flath, D. Gauthier)
1st RC 13:04 J. Schultz
1st WIC 13:24 K. Miller
1st RC 19:32 J. Ryd (assists C. Ferriero, J. Schultz)
2nd WIC 2:41 T. Hosmer (assist M. Wilson)
2nd RC 7:38 C. Ferriero (assists J. Schultz, D. Ehrhardt)
2nd RC 16:51 C. Ferriero (assists J. Schultz, D. Tetrault) — PP
3rd WIC 6:04 I. Lowe (assists M. Wilson, D. Gauthier) — PP
3rd RC 12:51 J. Ryd (assists J. Schultz, M. Brisebois)

Jan. 24 — Wichita win in SO 4-3

Per Team Time Goals
1st RC 9:13 M. Brisebois (assist D. Tetrault)
2nd WIC 4:08 T. Hosmer  — SH
2nd WIC 7:10 K. Miller (assists T. Hosmer, I. Lowe)
2nd WIC 13:35 D. Gauthier (assists R. Flath, J. Walker) — PP
3rd RC 10:30 P. Cullen (assists S. Erickson, J. Narbonne)
3rd RC 15:22 D. Clarke (assists D. Barczuk, C. Ferriero)

| Goaltender Swaps:

On both nights Rapid City’s Coach made goaltender changes after allowing 3 goals and after that point the game changed very decidedly in their favor. I’m always curious about Wichita’s Coach McClelland’s decision to keep his goalies in net even though they have allowed more than 3 goals, and even very surprisingly 7 and 8 goals! Perhaps he is showing support for his goalie when some (and perhaps even much) of the fault goes to his forwards and defense, and sometimes that is justifiable thinking, but there are certainly advantages to changing a goalie as we saw in both games this weekend.  I would far prefer to see a “mercy” goalie pull and a chance to win a game, rather than 7 or 8 goals against.

| Miscellaneous: 

Todd Hosmer’s short-handed goal at 4:08 into the 2nd period in Saturday’s game is listed as unassisted but it looked like another Wichita player Kirill Tulupov should get an assist on that goal. Tulupov, Meland, Hosmer and Miller were out on the penalty kill unit during that goal.

Erick Lizon ended Saturday’s game with a 10-minute Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike Conduct while on the bench during the shootout. Let’s be honest — Lizon is an agitator and fighter, but he is also showing some of his skill this season with 6 goals and 6 assists in 40 games played. That tops his full season of games played in 2013-14 of 5 goals and 6 assists for 47 games with Wichita. Other teams and fans love to hate these types of players, they can irritate endlessly and hopefully draw penalties. That’s his job. Does he go overboard at times and make mistakes, most certainly, but as long as his antics are beneficial to the team, he’s doing the right thing.

Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 — Wichita Thunder Loss: 4 – 5 Rapid City

  • Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 — Wichita Thunder Shootout Win: 4 – 3 Rapid City in Shootout
  • Wichita Thunder Game Recap
  • Rapid City Rush Game Recap
  • ECHL Game Sheet

Wichita Thunder will face the 3rd ranked Quad City Mallards on Wednesday night in Moline at 7:05 p.m. The Thunder return home to play the Mallards again on Friday night, Jan. 30th.