WICHITA, Kan. – After fighting for a point Friday night in the season opener, notching a win was the priority for the Wichita Thunder on Saturday night. The Thunder defeated the Rapid City Rush, 4-3 to earn three of the possible four points on opening weekend.

The Thunder got things started early as Stefan Fournier scored his second of the season, a gritty rebound stuff on a slapshot by Brendan Smith.

Wichita controlled the remainder of the first period, putting a total of 19 shots on goal, a season-high.

“As a coach, when you have that many opportunities and you come out of there with only a 1-0 lead, you get a little worried,” Thunder Head Coach Bruce Ramsay said.

Wichita started the second period where the first left off: on the gas pedal. Following coincidental-minors on Jordan Sims and Jalen Smereck, the Thunder scored during the 4-on-4 time, a slapshot that found the net after a ricochet off of Steven Iacobellis‘s chest. The result in the play was the first video replay in INTRUST Bank Arena’s history. Following deliberation over a potential ‘hand pass into the net,’ the goal was awarded.

While still 4-on-4, Rapid City found the scoreboard themselves as Trey Phillips flushed a beautiful cross-ice feed from Myles McGurty past Mitch Gillum, narrowing Wichita’s lead to 2-1.

The game saw a standstill of action for the next ten minutes before Rapid City’s floodgates opened. At 14:50 of the second, Giovanni Fiore scored an equalizing goal during a powerplay on a well-drawn up play directly after winning an offensive zone faceoff.

Just under four minutes later, the Rush scored again. Cedric Montminy tipped in a shot from Smereck, giving Rapid City the lead.

The period drew to a close, Wichita now trailing 3-2.

The Thunder had their biggest opportunity of the young 2019-20 season approach following a too many men penalty on Rapid while already under a delayed penalty for tripping.

Just over one minute into the 5-on-3 powerplay, Chris Crane buried a cross-crease feed from Iacobellis, tying the game at 3-3.

37 seconds later, the Thunder scored their second powerplay goal of the night as Fournier scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway that deflected off Erik Kallgren‘s side. The goal was Fournier’s second of the night.

Wichita sat back for the next few minutes, struggling to get the puck out of their defensive zone. Finally, the Thunder finished the final five minutes with a consistent forecheck and selfless plays on the defensive side to end the game.

The 4-3 win was Ramsay’s first as the Wichita Thunder head coach. Wichita finished 2-for-5 on the powerplay while the penalty kill allowed one goal on three penalties faced.

“I like the way they’ve dug in and battled back a couple times now,” Ramsay said. “That is all you can ask for, especially on home ice.”

Wichita outshot Rapid City 37-31 and controlled the faceoff circle, winning 56% of draws.

Four Thunder skaters recorded multiple points Saturday night: Fournier (2g), Smith (2a), Iacobellis (1g, 1a) and Joe Widmar (2a).

The Thunder hit the road for the first time this season to visit the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm MT/8:05 pm CT.

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