WICHITA, Kan. – For the first time in five games, the Wichita Thunder defense held an opponent to less than three goals. In fact, Wichita finally found reliable offense and solid goalkeeping long enough to secure a win over Mountain Division opponent Utah, 5-2.
The start was less than ideal for Wichita, as Turner Ottenbreit started the scoring for Utah just 18 seconds into the contest.
Utah controlled play well in the following minutes, doubling their lead at 6:12 after a nice feed to the slot by Ryan Walters, where Austin Carroll buried a one-timer over Skinner’s shoulder.
After some back-and-forth hockey, Wichita found its way to the scoreboard at 16:30, a power play goal for Quentin Shore.
Just 65 seconds later, Wichita tied the game at two when Ryan Van Stralen sent a nice backhand shot through the five-hole of Joe Cannata.
The teams would enter the first intermission tied at one, Wichita outshooting Utah, 16-10.
Wichita started quickly in the second, scoring an opening minute goal of their own. Stefan Fournier received a great pass from P.C. Labrie, deked out Cannata and buried a shot while flying through the air.
The second period played pretty back and forth, each team stealing an opportunity or two with a fast-break or odd-man rush. It took until 17:55 to have another goal, Nolan De Jong scoring his first in a Thunder sweater.
After two periods, Wichita led 4-2 and continued to outshoot Utah, 26-16.
The third period played scoreless until the last second. Both team throwing quality chances at the net while both goalies did their job accordingly.
Labrie finished the scoring for the night with Cannata pulled for the extra attacker for Utah. The empty net goal was Labrie’s 19th of the year and capped off a three-point night for the veteran.
Wichita finished 1-for-3 on the powerplay, while the penalty kill went 2-for-2. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Utah had the third best powerplay in the league.
The Thunder outshot the Grizzlies (38-21) for only the third time all year. After losing the first seven games of the year against Utah, Wichita won the final two, both at INTRUST Bank Arena.
The win ended a 12-game losing streak for Stuart Skinner at the ECHL level.
Wichita will host Tulsa for the final time this season at INTRUST Bank Arena tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. You can catch Matthew Harding and me on the Sin Bin pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m.