WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder needed a night when everything hit on all cylinders. Entering Friday night’s contest with the Kansas City Mavericks, the Thunder had just one win in regulation all year.
Prior to the game, reinforcements arrived in the form of Ryan Van Stralen and Tyler Elbrecht, who had been on injured reserve since late October. Also suiting up for Wichita was recently acquired defenseman Eric Roy.
“This was reminiscent of the 4-1 game down in Allen where we played really good 60 minutes and we played smart. We gave them nothing,” said head coach Malcolm Cameron. “All of the shots were from the outside and we created some great scoring chances.”
Steven Iacobellis got the scoring started just past the 7:30 mark of the opening frame, receiving a nice pass from Dyson Stevenson to give Wichita a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Stevenson caught a piece of a shot in his face area, and struggled to get to the bench in a heap. He returned to the ice a short time later and blocked a couple of additional shots in the period.
“That’s what he does. He sets the tone every night. Whether it’s a big hit, fight, blocked shot…he does all that and it tumbles to the rest of the guys on the bench,” Cameron said.
After a defensive stalemate for the first few minutes of the second period, the dam broke for the Thunder offense. On the power play, Iacobellis scored his second of the night when he roofed a rebound past Ben Halford to double the score to 2-0. Forty-four seconds later, and on another power play, Ralph Cuddemi scored his fifth of the year, when he one-timed a pass from Van Stralen to make it 3-0. P.C. Labrie added his fourth of the year to cap the scoring, with a snipe from the left faceoff circle to cap the scoring at 4-0 through two periods.
From there, Skinner took over, stopping all 42 shots he faced, picking up his first professional shutout. With five seconds left, Elbrecht shut down the Mavs’ final chance of the night, sprawling to block a shot.
“We get a rookie goaltender in the net and he is coming off the IR and he lays down to block a big shot because he wants to get Stewy (Skinner) a shutout. That’s the kind of character you to have to have to win in this league, certainly in our division,” Cameron said.
The same two teams will complete their three-game set tomorrow night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:05 pm CT.
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