WICHITA, KS – They say it takes everyone to help a team win hockey games. I’m pretty sure they didn’t include the team broadcaster in that adage. In his comments to the media Saturday night, Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron sang the praises of Jason Mals, who arrived at the rink at 6 Saturday morning to download and cut the film from Friday night’s game.
Heading into the rematch with Indy, one of the things Cameron wanted to do is improve on the penalty kill that only killed one of three Fuel chances Friday night.
“There’s no exhibition video of their powerplay. Obviously, we have video on that now and we will be much better tomorrow,” Cameron told reporters after Friday night’s contest. “Giving up two on the power play, if we shore that up, it’s a 4-1 game.”
Consider that box checked off, as the Thunder stifled Indy on seven-of-eight power-play chances, including a five-on-three advantage in the first period of Saturday night’s game.
The Fuel got on the board just over five minutes into the game when Nick Bligh potted his first of the season off a nice feed cross-ice from Zack Miskovic. 23 seconds later, Thunder rookie defenseman Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin scored his first goal as a pro when he fired a shot that beat Collin Delia over the right shoulder.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the first period came with 1:55 left in the period when Dyson Stevenson and Garrett Clarke squared off in quite a tilt. Stevenson landed some punches at the end of the bout that caused Clarke to fall.
The Fuel thought they had scored a goal with 54 seconds left in the frame, and the puck did leak behind Shane Starrett, but the officials were out of position and did not have a conclusive view, so the original call on the ice stood.
The 1-1 stalemate continued into the middle stages of the second period, and like the first, the goals came in spurts. Tommy Olczyk netted his first of the season on a nice tic-tac-toe pass by Cam Reid and Alex Wideman to give Indy a 2-1 lead. The lead would be shortlived, however, as Lane Bauer scored his first professional goal on a chance that went off a Fuel defender and through Delia’s five-hole just 1:45 later.
Slowly but surely, the Thunder would use their speed, some power-play chances and their ability to keep the puck in the zone to erase a 22-5 deficit in shots in the first half of the game. When asked if there was a message, Cameron said there was one:
“Yeah, shoot the damn puck,” the Thunder coach said.
With the Thunder pressing in the middle stages of the third, Jamie Doornbosch fired a shot that beat Delia, but referee Mike Sheehan ruled “incidental contact” with the goaltender and it was declared a “no-goal.” On the video replay, Dana Tyrell is tied up with Troy Vance in front of Delia, but does not impact Delia’s route to the puck.
Shortly after that debacle, Travis Ewanyk put the Thunder ahead with a beautiful breakaway shot that beat Delia over the right shoulder. But, the lead would not last for long. Just 4:54 later, Troy Vance would put one past Starrett to level the game at 3-3.
The game would remain deadlocked for much of the third period and overtime until Mark MacMillan used a burst of speed to get around Miskovic and put the puck by Delia on the blocker side to give Wichita a 4-3 overtime win.
With the win, Wichita sweeps opening weekend for the first time since 2012-13. Wichita now has a week off before taking on the Rapid City Rush, next Saturday night in the first of a two-game weekend set. You can listen to the Malcolm Cameron Coaches Show, LIVE on The Sin Bin app, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm CT Tuesday night!
You can listen to the Malcolm Cameron Coaches Show, LIVE on The Sin Bin app, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm CT Tuesday night!