WICHITA, Kan. – While in the middle of a four-game-in-five-night stretch, the Wichita Thunder closed the 2018 portion of their home schedule with a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Tulsa Oilers.
The game started off much like the contest between the two clubs on Thursday night; a tightly defended battle where each netminder had to make opportunistic saves. Both Devin Williams and Stuart Skinner were equal to the task in the opening period of play, stopping all 18 shots they faced.
But, the Oilers would find themselves in some penalty trouble as the period came to a close, which put Wichita on a one-minute long 5-on-3 advantage to start the second period. While the Thunder did not score on the initial penalty, they did connect on the second one, which was a delay of game minor to Steve Kaunisto for intentionally shooting the puck over the glass. After corraling a pass from Ralph Cuddemi, Eric Roy fired a clapper from the blueline that beat Williams over the shoulder to give Wichita a 1-0 lead just 71 seconds into the second period.
From there, the Thunder got sloppy.
“I thought our execution was extremely poor,” said Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron. “We stymied our own breakouts, neutral zone transition with bad passes, passes behind guys, soft, slow passes. They executed better than we did.”
Just 2:06 later, Roman Ammirato one-timed a Jared Thomas pass and scored his fifth of the season to level things at one. From there, the Oilers really turned up the wick on Wichita, forcing the Thunder into many turnovers and messy breakouts. The strategy paid off again at the 7:09 mark of the period, when Alex Globke scored his second goal in as many games for the Oilers to put them ahead 2-1.
The Thunder would finally settle down though, just 1:13 later, Jesse Gabrielle cleaned up the mess in front of Williams to put Wichita back on level terms at 2-2. For the rookie forward, the goal was his first in a Thunder uniform and sixth of the season.
The stalemate would not last long into the third period, though, when Globke struck for the second time in the contest, beating Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin during a battle at the side of the net, and put the puck past Skinner to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead. Adam Pleskach doubled the Oilers lead at 6:55 of the final period, when he wristed an Ian McNulty pass behind Skinner. From there, the Oilers defense locked it down, holding Wichita to just three shots in the final period.
Wichita’s five-game unbeaten streak is snapped, as is a six-game home winning streak and now have a 10-5-1-1 record at INTRUST Bank Arena. Also with the loss, the Thunder fall into fourth place in the Mountain Division.
The Thunder now hit the road for the next five, starting with a New Year’s Eve contest against the Kansas City Mavericks, followed by three in Utah, and a road contest against the Allen Americans. They will return home on January 12 when they will play Allen in the middle game of a three-game set.