WICHITA, KS – In front of an eager and upbeat crowd of 8,220 on Go Red Night, the Wichita Thunder looked to snap a two-game slide against a team they had some success against this season, the Colorado Eagles.
That hope was quickly dashed.
Colorado blitzed Wichita with four goals in less than seven minutes in the first period, en route to a 6-0 win Friday night. Starting goaltender David Shantz got the hook after allowing the first three Colorado goals, while only facing 13 shots. The Eagles promptly welcomed Grant Rollheiser into the game, scoring on him less than a minute after Shantz was lifted, for their fourth goal of the period.
The six goals allowed by Thunder goaltending mark the 13th time in the team’s 46 games they have allowed atleast five goals. By comparison, the Thunder offense has put five or more goals on the board just three times all year.
“We started out all right, a couple soft goals against,” Thunder coach Kevin McClelland said. “We had some opportunities, but they come right down and score again in the second, just on a soft play by our D again.”
The Thunder losing streak is now at three games. An interesting stat from Wichita Eagle Thunder beat writer Jeffrey Lutz is that none of the Thunder’s losing streaks have been just one or two games. In fact, all of the Thunder’s 36 losses have come during losing streaks that have reached a minimum of three games, including a nine-game slide earlier this season.
“We need to get on another streak, it’s called a winning streak,” McClelland said. “We’ve got to find a way to start getting some wins here. There’s a lot at stake for everybody. If these guys want to keep playing the game of hockey, they’ve got to find ways to show they can fight through adversity.”
On the other side of the ledger, Eagles goaltender Eric Levine became the league leader in shutouts, collecting his fourth of the season and second against Wichita this season.
“We brought him (Levine) up because we were in a desperate situation…we had no goaltenders and he has come in and played very well,” said Colorado coach Chris Stewart.
Levine now has a 9-3-1 record, a 1.98 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 15 games played this season.
The Eagles have now won seven straight games, their longest winning streak of the season, and have moved into sixth place in the western conference. Colorado traveled up I-35 last night and will play the Missouri Mavericks tonight at 7:05.
Meanwhile, the Thunder will attempt to travel to Allen today, after having bus issues overnight. The game against the Americans will go tonight at 7:05 at the Allen Event Center.