Mired in their busiest stretch of the schedule this season, four games in five nights, the Wichita Thunder looked to break-out of a four-game losing streak. The Thunder have been putrid on offense during the streak, scoring just four goals during the stretch.
Tulsa meanwhile, was in a skid of their own, losing twice to Colorado last weekend.
Something had to give.
Searching for a spark for their respective sides, tough guys Erick Lizon and Mathieu Gagnon squared off 4:22 into the game. The two exchanged blows before Gagnon one-punched Lizon and won the fight. Tulsa seized the momentum from the fight and hemmed Wichita in their own end for quite a period of time after the tilt. Theo Peckham and Ian Lowe were penalized 33 seconds apart, which set up a 5-on-3 power play for the Oilers. Brandon Wong would end the perfect penalty-kill streak, as he capitalized on a rebound and put the puck past goaltender David Shantz to give Tulsa a 1-0 lead.
The Thunder offense sputtered, badly, in the first half of the opening stanza, not collecting their first official shot on goal until 13:08 into the first period. The shot was met by a round of sarcastic applause from the Thunder faithful. Once the team got that first shot, the offense seemed to show signs of life, putting six shots on goaltender Jussi Olkuinora in the period.
Peter Sakaris would provide a much needed shot in the arm for the Thunder offense early in the second, as he roofed a shot past Olkuinora to even the game at 1, just 51 seconds into the period. Sakaris has been a great find for Wichita coach Kevin McClelland, scoring four goals in his nine games with the squad.
From there, the goaltending shined. The teams would play the second half of the game to a scoreless draw, all the way to the shootout.
In the shootout, Phil Brewer and Sakaris scored in the first round. The stalemate continued into the fourth round, when Anthony Deluca used some slick stickwork to be Olkuinora to give the Thunder the win. Here is video of Deluca’s game-winning goal:
With the win, Wichita improves to 5-7-0 (10 pts, 3rd in Central Division) and goaltender David Shantz continues shine in net for Wichita. In his last three games, Shantz has allowed four goals on 97 shots (.959 save percentage). Shantz and the Thunder will look to stop Missouri’s four-game winning streak against them Friday night at Intrust Bank Arena.