WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder continued their five-game-in-six-night homestand by hosting the Colorado Eagles for the first of two contests Tuesday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Kevin Patterson got Wichita on the scoreboard 5:34 into the contest when Kevin Dufour fired a cross-ice pass to Patterson, who fired a low one-timer through Sam Brittain‘s legs to give Wichita the early advantage. For Patterson, the goal was his first as a pro.
From there, Colorado controlled the play for a stretch of time, punctuated by a Brady Shaw power-play goal at 11:06 of the opening period, that came during a net-mouth scramble in front of Thunder netminder Nick Riopel.
101 seconds later, Dufour would collect his second point of the evening and 16th goal of the season when he & Chad Butcher went in on a 2-on-1 on Brittain, and Dufour went bar-post and in over Brittain’s right shoulder to give Wichita a 2-1 lead they would take into the first intermission.
Wichita continued to apply the pressure early in the second period, and it paid off at 6:37 of the period when Ralph Cuddemi fired his 20th of the season by Brittain to give Wichita a 3-1 lead. With the goal, Cuddemi became Wichita’s first 20-goal scorer of the season (first 20+ goal scorer since Danick Gauthier, Ian Lowe, and Todd Hosmer did it in 2014-15) and the first to eclipse the 40-point barrier.
After the goal, the Thunder got incredibly sloppy in front of Riopel, and that opened the door for a three-goal onslaught by the Eagles.
“I thought we fell asleep in the second period and let a good team back in the game,” said Thunder Head Coach Malcolm Cameron of the three-straight second period goals by Colorado. “It baffles me that we give up multiple goals so quickly — it’s different lines. Just tells me we aren’t mentally tough enough.”
First up, Emil Romig scored his 10th of the year 43 seconds after the Cuddemi goal off a nice feed from Ryan Silro to cut the Thunder lead to 3-2. 42 seconds after that, Ryan Olsen scored his 10th of the campaign by potting a cross-ice feed from Teigan Zahn to level the game at three. Cameron would take his timeout after the Zahn goal, and it seemed to calm the team down, as they played end-to-end with Colorado for the rest of the period.
But at 18:10 of the frame, Shaw would give the Eagles their first lead of the night when he tipped a Drayson Bowman shot by Riopel to give them a 4-3 lead heading into the second intermission.
Wichita controlled much of the play in the third, firing 18 shots on Sam Brittain in the period. They had a chance to tie the game on the power-play with 1:30 left in regulation, but could not get the puck by the Eagles’ netminder. Nolan De Jung scored a short-handed empty-net goal with 57 seconds left to give Colorado a 5-3 win.
“Moral victories mean nothing this time of year. Victories only. Right now, you gotta win games and we (squandered) a great opportunity with a 3-1 lead.” Cameron said of the loss.
Sam Brittain picks up win number 12 on the season, while Riopel falls to 11-10-2 on the season.
The Thunder went 0-for-1 on the power-play and have now gone seven games without a power-play goal.
Wichita and Colorado will play again tomorrow night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:05 pm.