WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder entered Friday night’s season-opener against the Indy Fuel with a lot to prove; a team filled with unproven offensive players at the ECHL level, a goalie looking to redeem himself, a team looking to get into the good graces of a distant fanbase.
Wichita came out and forced the action quickly, getting several good chances on Indy’s rookie netminder, Collin Delia. Wichita would end the stalemate in the late stages of the first period when Kyle Platzer fired a shot low and into the left pad of Delia, which deflected perfectly out to Matt DeBlouw, who potted the season’s first goal at 13:24 of the opening period. From there, the Thunder would apply the pressure through the remaining minutes of the period. Thunder newcomer Dana Tyrell was stoned by Delia on a beautiful feed from Dyson Stevenson.
The red lights were tested early and often in the middle frame. The scoring started on an Indy power play just over three-and-a-half minutes into the period, when Geoff Walker put a Cam Reid shot past Joel Rumpel to tie the game at one.
From there, the middle stages of the period were dominated by Wichita, capped off by a run of three goals in 4:39. Platzer scored his first in a Thunder uniform when he fired the puck over the right shoulder of Delia to give Wichita a 2-1 lead. Just over three minutes later, DeBlouw scored his second of the night that was set up on a nice stop-and-go play by Zach O’Brien. The outburst was capped off 52 seconds later, when Travis Ewanyk fired a puck through traffic and beat Delia over his right shoulder, again, to give Wichita a 4-1 lead.
The Fuel would wrap up the scoring in the middle stanza when Zack Miskovic fired a shot that leaked through Rumpel’s five-hole and narrowed the Wichita lead to 4-2.
Indy would dominate much of the final period, lobbing 13 shots on Joel Rumpel. Alex Wideman would score on the power play at 11:13 of the period to bring them to within one, but the Fuel would get no closer.
Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron thought the lack of pre-scouting on the Fuel’s powerplay was the difference between a close game and one that could have been much easier.
“There’s no exhibition video of their powerplay. Obviously, we have video on that now and we will be much better tomorrow,” Cameron said. “Giving up two on the power play, if we shore that up, it’s a 4-1 game.”
The Thunder and Fuel will play the second game of their weekend set tomorrow night at 7:05 pm. Join Matthew Harding and Zach Courter for The Sin Bin Pregame Show beginning at 6:20 pm on The Sin Bin app!