WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder will be elated to see the Utah Grizzlies get on the bus and leave INTRUST Bank Arena. As the two teams entered the final game of a three-game series, Utah outscored Wichita 9-7, forced the Thunder into making sloppy plays with the puck and unforced errors on the defensive end.
After a slow start, the Thunder offense is showing signs of life. Ralph Cuddemi, Steven Iacobellis, Hayden Hodgson, and P.C. Labrie all have points in back-to-back games.
Wichita caught a bit of a break on Thursday when the Colorado Eagles called up Grizzlies leading scorer Caleb Herbert and forward Travis Barron. Entering the game on Friday, Herbert was second in the ECHL with 18 points (11G, 7A).
But none of it mattered.
Without Herbert in the lineup, Utah still showed they have a potent offense, defeating Wichita 5-3 on Friday night. With the win, Utah leaves Wichita with five of six possible points, while Wichita has lost two straight contests.
The Grizzlies got on the board just 103 seconds into the contest. In a play very similar to the game-winning goal scored by Jake Marchment Wednesday, Kevin Davis fired a shot off the end board to the right of Dylan Wells, and the rebound came right to Matt Berry, who put the rebound into the net.
Four minutes later, Austin Carroll scored his fourth of the season. After battling through a lackluster stick check, he received a pass from Gage Ausmus, and put the puck past Wells’ blocker to make it 2-0.
The end of Wells’ night came at the 13:40 mark of the period, when Berry scored his second goal of the game after finding a soft spot in the Thunder defense and putting it by Wells’ blocker.
Cuddemi scored for the third straight game 75 seconds into the period to bring the Thunder back within two. But, in what would be the theme of the night for Wichita, they would shoot themselves in the foot, when Labrie plowed into Nolan De Jong and was assessed a five-minute major for boarding. During the major power play, Utah would not convert.
The Grizzlies tacked on one more in the mid-stages of the second period, when Cole Ully scored to make it a 4-1 game. Ully would add his second of the night, on a penalty shot in the third period.
In the final period, Wichita showed signs of life offensively, with Greg Chase and Jeremy Beaudry each scoring their first goals of the season.
- Prior to Wednesday’s game with Utah, defenseman Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin was placed on 14-day IR (retroactive to Monday.)
- Earlier in the week, the team acquired rookie defenseman Zach Todd from Orlando for future considerations. Todd has signed a contract and is on the roster for Wichita.
- Another rookie defenseman, Kyle Chatham, is also a new addition to the Thunder roster. Chatham suited up in three games for the Reading Royals last season and made their postseason roster, but has yet to see action this season.
- Defenseman Dylan Labbe was injured during the second period of the game Wednesday and did not play Friday night.
- Iacobellis, Labrie and Cuddemi all have three-game point-streaks.