WICHITA, Kan. – The lightest portion of the Wichita Thunder schedule for the entire 2018-19 season came to an end this past week, as the team opened the month of November by finishing a three-game road trip and opening a four-game homestand.

We’ll look back at that games, plus get you caught up on all the Thunder news and notes.

Let’s get started, shall we!

Game #6 — Friday @ Kansas City at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena

Mavericks forward Mark Cooper scored 1:56 into overtime to help Kansas City knock off Wichita 2-1 on Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.

The script was similar to last Saturday’s contest, where Wichita got on the board first, but the opponent tied the game in the second and eventually won in overtime. Wichita controlled the pace of the early portion of the first. The Thunder had several quality scoring chances in the first three minutes, but had a hard time hitting the net. Travis Brown broke the scoreless tie with a power play goal at 10:50. He hammered a one-timer from the right circle past Mason McDonald to make it 1-0.

Travis Brown (4) celebrates his first goal of the season with his teammates Friday night. Photo: Ed Bailey/The Sin Bin

Kansas City turned up the pressure in the second. David Dziurzynski tied it at 8:58 with his third of the year as he found a rebound near the crease and scored. The Mavericks nearly grabbed their first lead at 8:29 when Jared VanWormer found Jordan Ernst across the goal mouth. Wells somehow dove from post-to-post and came up with the glove save.

Both teams finished with eight shots in the final frame, but couldn’t break the tie and overtime was needed. Cooper scored the game-winner at 1:56 and his fourth of the season. He outraced a man to a loose puck in the neutral zone, came in all alone and beat Wells with a backhand to win the game, 2-1.

Game #7 — Sunday vs. Utah @ INTRUST Bank Arena

Wichita returned home from their three-game road trip and opened up a three-game home series with the Utah Grizzlies.

For the sixth time in seven games, the Thunder opened the scoring, when P.C. Labrie found a soft spot in the defense and fired a one-timer past Joe Cannata at 3:42 of the first period to make it 1-0.

In the second, Caleb Herbert scored his first of two goals on the afternoon, when he chopped at a loose puck near the left circle and got a fortunate bounce. The puck slid underneath goaltender Dylan Wells for the power play tally to tie the contest at one. With roughly three minutes left in the middle stanza, Hayden Hodgson put the Thunder back on top with his second goal of the season:

Utah turned up the pressure in the third period, and it paid off just over six minutes into the final period. Defenseman Taylor Richart went bar-in to tie the game at two:

Just under a minute later, Ralph Cuddemi gave the Thunder a 3-2 lead as he caught a pass up the right seam and fired a wrist shot past Cannata’s blocker. It was Cuddemi’s second goal of the season.

The Grizzlies cashed in on a late penalty as Cuddemi was called for hooking with three minutes left. Tim McGauley, who had just stepped on the ice, skated into the play and fired a one-timer:

In the extra period, John McFarland was whistled for tripping just 34 seconds in and gave Utah another chance with the man advantage. Herbert scored the game-winner from the left circle as he beat Wells for his 10th goal of the season and a 4-3 win.

Major stats through four weeks of the Thunder season:

Team Storylines:

Goals > Punches: Through seven games this season, Dyson Stevenson and P.C. Labrie, known for their ability to put on the foil, have been busy turning on the red lamp. The two have combined for seven of Wichita’s 18 goals (38.8% of the team’s goals) and just four fighting majors.

Lack of Offensive Punch: Through Sunday’s contest, Cuddemi, Greg Chase, Lane Bauer, Travis Brown have combined for a total of six points and are a combined -6. Chase and Cuddemi are the “leading scorers” of the bunch with two points each. 

Rookie Flavor: Three Thunder rookies; Jared Wilson, Jakob Stukel, and Colin Larkin have combined for a total of ten points entering play on Sunday (Wilson leads with four points).

Working OT: Wichita has played seven games so far this season and all but two have needed overtime or a shootout to decide the outcome. Wichita is 0-3 in games decided in overtime, losing the last three contests in the extra period. The Thunder are 2-0 in shootout situations. The Thunder have collected points in their last five games.

The Road to “25”: A magic number for Thunder fans to follow is “25,” which represents the number of wins the team would likely need against Tulsa, Kansas City, and Allen to be significant contenders for the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Last season, Wichita went 15-12-2-0 against those three teams. This season, Wichita played those three teams 40 times (Allen and Tulsa 14 times each, Kansas City 12 times.) Here is a breakdown of the team’s record against the Thunder’s three foes:

Allen: 2-1-0-0
Kansas City: 0-0-1-0
Tulsa: 0-0-1-0
TOTAL: 2-1-2-0

They Said It: When asked about the Thunder’s offensive doldrums during a pregame interview Sunday, head coach Malcolm Cameron had this to say:

“They’re guys we brought in to produce and it hurts us in these low-scoring games if they aren’t putting up points,” Cameron said. “To have this many guys off to a slow start is a little bit of a concern.”

Comings and Goings:

Here’s a breakdown of the player movement over the last week for Wichita:

Date: Transactions:
Oct 29 NONE
Oct 30 Placed (D) Tyler Elbrecht on 14-day IR retroactive to 10/28
Oct 31 NONE
Nov 1 (D) Jared Wilson returned on loan to Wichita from Bakersfield
Nov 2 Signed (G) Ted Florence as EBUG, Activated (F) Mitch Maloney off Injured Reserve, Placed (F) Matt Schmalz on reserve
Nov 3 NONE
Nov 4 Activated (F) Matt Schmalz and (F) Colin Jacobs from reserve, placed (F) Greg Chase on reserve


The Next Five:

Here’s a look at the next five opponents for the Wichita Thunder. Home games are in bold italics and all times Central.

Opponent Date & Game Start Time Venue
Utah Grizzlies Wednesday, November 7 10:30 am CT INTRUST Bank Arena
Utah Grizzlies Friday, November 9 7:05 pm CT INTRUST Bank Arena
Allen Americans Sunday, November 11 4:05 pm CT INTRUST Bank Arena
Kansas City Mavericks Tuesday, November 13 7:05 pm CT Silverstein Eye Centers Arena
Kansas City Mavericks Friday, November 16 7:05 pm CT INTRUST Bank Arena

 

Join Matthew Will and me for The Sin Bin Pregame show before every Wichita Thunder game this season! Home pregame shows begin at 6:30 pm (3:30 pm CT on Sundays,) with road pregame shows starting 20 minutes before puck drop! You can tune in on ECHL TV, on mixlr.com, or by downloading The Sin Bin app for Apple & Android devices!

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