WICHITA, Kan. – After a mid-November swoon put them below .500, the Wichita Thunder finally broke back to dead even on the season, with a 5-1 win over the Rapid City Rush.
Five different Thunder players lit the lamp for Wichita Friday night.
The balanced effort started 6:14 into the first period when Stefan Fournier caught a pass from Lane Bauer, drove the net and popped the puck past Adam Carlson to make it 1-0. Tyler Elbrecht increased the lead to 2-0 just over three minutes later, when he caught a beautiful feed from Mark MacMillan and buried a wrist shot for his second of the season. At 14:24, Stevenson fired a shot past Carlson’s glove to make it 3-0. Carlson’s night was over as Tyler Parks was forced into action.
After a scoreless second period, which left head coach Malcolm Cameron less than enthused, the Thunder came back with a two more to salt the game away in the third period.
“I wasn’t happy with the period,” Cameron said of the second period effort from Wichita. “This is a team we’ve seen Rapid City all year never quit and win games in the third period, where we have lost games in the third period. So, I think the fear of losing crept in and drove the feet and brain. I thought the third period was our best period.”
Just 2:25 in, MacMillan curled around the net and lit the lamp with a wrist shot from the right hashmarks to make it 4-0. Ralph Cuddemi beat Parks at 10:12 with a wrist shot on the power play and a 5-0 advantage. Tyler Poulsen got Rapid City on the board with a power play tally at 17:12 to end Dylan Wells‘ shutout bid to make it 5-1.
For Wells, it was his fourth straight win after starting the season 0-3-2. Cameron said all the rookie netminder needed was some help on the scoreboard.
“He lost games where we didn’t score enough goals,” Cameron said. “He lost a lot of low-scoring games. He’s getting that goal support now and he’s being rewarded in the win column.”
Fournier has two goals and four points in four games since coming to the Thunder. Cuddemi has four goals in his last three games. Dyson Stevenson finished the night with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick and has nine points in his last six games. Keoni Texeira added two helpers and has seven points in his last three games.
Wichita’s win also snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for the Rush, who now fall to 11-9-2-3 on the season.
Game two between the teams is tonight at INTRUST Bank Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:05 pm.