FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Slumps happen in every phase of the game with every team during the course of a 72-game schedule. Knowing when the slump will end is tough to figure out, and for the Wichita Thunder, the end to their defensive slumber didn’t come on Friday night.
For the third straight game — five of their last six overall — the Wichita Thunder defense allowed more than five goals in a contest, as the Fort Wayne Komets doubled up Wichita 8-4.
Each team found the net in the first. Mason Baptista opened the scoring for the second game in a row with a wrist shot from the left circle at 2:56 to make it 1-0. Wichita appeared to tie the game at 4:06 when Nick Latta blasted a one-timer through Michael Houser, but the referee blew the whistle, citing that the net came off and the goal was disallowed. During the commotion, Latta was sucker punched in the back of the head by Shawn Szydlowski, and the two squared off in an entertaining bout. Kevin Dufour tied the game at 17:33 when he came down on a two-on-none with Ralph Cuddemi and he buried a backhand for his 15th of the season.
Fort Wayne scored three times in the second to take a 4-1 lead as Trevor Cheek, Justin Hodgman and Marco Roy found the net. Latta cut the lead to two with a shorthanded one-timer with 1:50 left in the second.
Former Thunder forward Louick Marcotte added to the Komets lead early in the third period, finding a rebound during a scrum and made it 5-2. Garrett Thompson scored at 4:39 to make it 6-2. Wichita got one back four minutes later during a two-man advantage as Jeremy Beaudry scored from the deep slot. Thompson scored his second of the frame at 8:28 to make it 7-3. Travis Brown cut the lead to 7-4 with a blast from the blueline at 11:39, but the Thunder would get no closer. Gabriel Desjardins added another at 13:01 to make it 8-4.
Beaudry added his sixth power play goal of the season and moves into a second-place tie for power-play goals by a defenseman. Brown recorded his eighth of the year, equaling his career-high in goals in a season. Dufour extended his point-streak to five games, recording seven points over that span (4g, 3a). Cuddemi also extended his point-streak, pushing his to five games (2g, 5a).
Jon Puskar is expected to make his Thunder debut Saturday night when the Thunder takes on the Cincinnati Cyclones at U.S. Bank Arena.