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Wichita Thunder Celebration of overtime win, March 4, 2015. (Photo courtesy Ed Bailey. All Rights Reserved.)

Wichita Thunder celebration, March 4, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Ed Bailey. All Rights Reserved.)

What a crazy and huge night for the Wichita Thunder. Just when you were resigned to the Thunder’s shutout loss in the middle of the 3rd period they did something remarkable — they not only came back to tie the game, they actually won in overtime 3-2. This is the first time the Thunder has been able to win after being down by two goals, and prior to last night’s game their record of wins trailing after the 2nd period was not stellar: 2-17-1-2.

The Thunder’s win puts them back into 4th place in a tie with Rapid City with 59 points, however the Thunder has the edge with three games-in-hand over the closely ranked teams, Quad City Mallards, Tulsa Oilers and Rapid City Rush.

It was the basics that hurt the Thunder last night, especially in the 1st period — sloppy passing, not much communication and a lack of teamwork — and as a result the Rush picked up two powerplay goals to hold the lead for the majority of the game. At 4:40 into the 1st Rapid City’s Dylan Clarke scored on a powerplay, and later at 17:42 the Rush’s Cody Ferriero scored on yet another powerplay to put the Rush up 2-0. Shots on goal in the 1st were 15-10 for the Rush.

The 2nd period was scoreless as the Thunder picked up their pace and began to play more effectively, however the total shots on goal for the period was only nine for both teams. Shots on goal 6-3 for the Thunder.

Just as the game was looking like a Rush shutout in the 3rd period, RG Flath scored at 12:31 from a great feed by Mike Wilson to put the Thunder on the board. Late in the game at 18:32 with Thunder’s goalie Tim Boron pulled and an extra attacker on the ice Danick Gauthier slipped one past John Griggs to tie it at 2 to take the game into overtime.

After a Rush boarding penalty by Kevin Harvey late in the 3rd, overtime started with a Wichita powerplay 4-on-3 situation and just 38 seconds into overtime Danick Gauthier scored his second goal of the night from the face-off circle for the Thunder win 3-2.

Due to all the snowy weather and a midweek game, there was not a huge crowd on hand last night, but the Thunder fans who were there roared loudly as their team rushed to the ice to celebrate. What a great sound and sight last night! Well done, Wichita! (And thanks to Ed Bailey for the great photo!)

Period Team Time Goals
1st RC 4:40 D. Clarke (assists R. Weselowski, S. Erickson) – PP
1st RC 17:42 C. Ferriero (assists K. Kerbashian, M. Brisebois) – PP
3rd WIC 12:31 R. Flath (assists M. Wilson, N. Kashirsky)
3rd WIC 18:32 D. Gauthier (assist J. Walker)
OT WIC 0:38 D. Gauthier (assists I. Lowe, R. Flath) – PP

Following the game Thunder’s coach Kevin McClelland explained to Wichita Eagle’s Lutz how the Thunder’s turnaround initiated, “We started skating and moving and creating some opportunities.”

McClelland continued, “We didn’t do a lot in the second period to get back at it. Then all of a sudden, we’ve got a nice goal to get us going, a great play by Mike Wilson. Then all of a sudden we put one to the net, and a good thing happens, it goes in. Then we get a power-play, [assistant coach Jason Duda] draws up a play and boom, it’s in the net, 3-2.”

Team notes: Since the Thunder’s goaltender Tyler Bunz is still with the Edmonton Oiler’s farm club the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, Wichita has been forced to play Tim Boron for a long stretch of crucial games but that seems to have been solved as the Brampton Beast have traded their goaltender Grant Rollheiser to the Wichita Thunder for what seems to be Future Considerations. More news will be released by the team soon, and I will post more information about Tyler Bunz’s OKC stint soon.

ECHL Transactions for March 4, 2015:
Brampton: Delete Grant Rollheiser, G traded to Wichita

Kenton Miller, the Thunder’s third leading scorer, was placed on 21-day IR on March 2nd, however Kurtis Bartliff has returned from injury and is back in the lineups as of last night. Bartliff was injured in the November 26, 2014 game vs Quad City.

Last night the team headed out on their long Canadian roadtrip to Brampton for a series of three games beginning Friday night.