DULUTH, GA – The Wichita Thunder played their first morning game as members of the ECHL Thursday morning, taking on the Atlanta Gladiators. For the second straight game, the team started off slow, but found their offense in the end.
A.J. White got the scoring started for the Gladiators at 4:22 of the opening period, putting a rebound behind goaltender Scott Greenham to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
Wichita would have several chances, especially in the back-half of the period, but Gladiators goaltender Steve Racine, who was making his professional debut, was up to the task.
Atlanta would add to their lead just past the four-minute mark of the second when Tyler Murovich scored his fourth of the year. It appeared that the puck may have deflected in off James Melindy‘s stick, as Greenham had decent positioning on the shot.
From there, the hard work on the offensive end began to pay off on the scoreboard. Wichita frustrated Atlanta with their cycle game and it led to several great scoring chances in the period for the Thunder. With just over seven minutes left in the middle stanza, Louick Marcotte put home a rebound for his first goal of the season to narrow the Gladiator lead to 2-1. Alex Krushelnyski picked up an assist on the goal, which extended his point-streak to four games. Despite the Gladiators goal, the second period was a clear and convincing win for the Thunder. They controlled the play through much of the period, limited Atlanta’s second chance opportunities and generated plenty of offense (18 shots on net during the period,) something head coach Malcolm Cameron has wanted to see from this team with regularity early in the season.
It didn’t take long for the Thunder offense to pick up where it left off in the second, as Alexis Loiseau banged home his second of the season just 38 seconds into the final period. 25 seconds later, defenseman Chris Rumble beat Racine with a nasty wrist shot to give Wichita a 3-2 lead.
The offensive onslaught was capped when Gabriel Gagne scored his first professional goal with a beautiful move with 3:52 left in regulation, to give Wichita a 4-2 lead.
Greenham picked up the win, his second of the season, stopping 26 of 28 Gladiators chances. Racine took the loss, giving up four goals on 40 Thunder chances.
The three-game winning streak is the first for the team since March 4-6 of last season.
Wichita will head to Greenville, SC to play the Swamp Rabbits for the first time in franchise history tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon.
Atlanta will hit the road for a pair of games against the Orlando Solar Bears, this weekend at Amway Center.