WICHITA, KS – Even though the Wichita Thunder entered Saturday night’s game with a 7-3-0 record, there is a problem lurking just below the surface of that record.
The team has been giving up entirely too many shots on goal.
Entering the contest against Alaska, the Thunder gave up the second most shots in the ECHL, with an average of 37.6 per game.
Thank God for good goaltenders…
The shooting gallery continued in the second game of a three-game set between the Thunder and Aces Saturday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
Alaska capitalized on multiple Thunder turnovers, catching defensemen flat-footed and winning battles all over the ice in the first period. Stephen Perfetto opened the scoring for the Aces when he tipped home a loose puck that was laying in front of Drew Owsley at 6:31 of the period, to give Alaska a 1-0 lead. Wichita was lucky to escape the period down 1-0, as Alaska had multiple odd-man rushes and Owsley stoned perennial ECHL scorer Peter Sivak on two point-blank opportunities.
Sometimes in hockey, there is only so much a netminder can do. The second period proved that.
Daniel Moynihan opened the scoring in the period when he put a nice move on Owsley to make it 2-0. 37 seconds later, Tim Wallace collected a loose puck on a turnover and fired a wrist shot to expand the lead to 3-0. Owsley would be lifted for the remainder of the period, in favor of Scott Greenham.
Wichita would mount some pressure in ten minutes between Aces goals, but not enough to break Michael Garteig. The story of the night continued to be lost battles across the ice and turnovers. Again that would come to roost when Tommy Olczyk (son of former NHL’er Eddie Olczyk) fired a puck that went through the five-hole of Greenham and made it 4-0 Alaska. For Olczyk, it was his first goal as a pro.
The scoring barrage would end just 36 seconds later when Moynihan scored his second of the night on a broken play and put Alaska up 5-0.
The four goals allowed in the second period were the most allowed by the Thunder this season, doubling up the two goals allowed in the third period last Saturday night against Tulsa and Sunday afternoon against Fort Wayne.
Goaltender Michael Garteig, in his first game back since a call-up to NHL Vancouver, got the shutout, his first of the season. Tim Coffman finished the night with three assists.
In a summation of the night, Cameron did not lack brevity.
“We had one line tonight that was the best line on the ice…and I won’t say who,” Cameron said. “We had a lot of dogs. Lot of dogs out there. You can’t win that way…can’t win. You gotta have everybody rolling to win. If I can’t get it out them, it’s my job to move them out of here.”
“We had a lot of guys wearing Thunder uniforms tonight, but not a lot of Thunder players.”
If there is one silver lining in this, it is that while they allowed 22 shots in the first period to the Aces, Wichita allowed just 18 in the final 40 minutes of play, but it is now the third straight game — and fourth out of the last five — the Thunder have allowed 40 shots in a contest.
Another silver lining: “We shot the puck more and we got some good second and third chances,” Cameron said.
Cameron did say after the game that team Captain Ian Lowe will be back in the lineup tomorrow, and there will likely be some more adjustments made to the roster.
The same two teams will play the final game of their season series at 4:05 tomorrow at INTRUST Bank Arena. Join myself and Zach Courter for The Sin Bin/Wichita Thunder pregame show, beginning at 3:20 on the Mixlr app, and searching Wichita Thunder.