WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita held a two-goal lead in the second, but couldn’t sustain it and fell to Colorado by the final of 4-2 on Wednesday night at Budweiser Event Center.
Ralph Cuddemi and Lane Bauer led the way with two points apiece.
After a scoreless first, Wichita struck twice in a 16-second span to take a 2-0 advantage in the second. Jeremy Beaudry gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 5:55. He fired a one-timer from the deep slot for his first of the postseason. At 6:11, Cuddemi found a rebound off a shot from Etienne Boutet and slid it past Joe Cannata to make it 2-0.
The Eagles got back into the game two minutes later when Gabriel Verpaelst beat Shane Starrett with a wrist shot from the right circle to cut the lead to 2-1. During a shorthanded situation, Ryan Harrison tied it at 16:50 with his first of the series. Ryan Olsen got all the way to the net, but Starrett made a great leg-pad save. Harrison went to the crease, found the rebound and scored to make it 2-2. For Wichita, it was the second shorthanded goal allowed in the series.
Wichita had a four-minute power play at 9:46 of the third when Drayson Bowman caught Guillaume Lepine in the face. The Eagles didn’t allow the Thunder to set up in the offensive zone and killed off the opportunity.
Matt Garbowsky scored the eventual game-winner at 14:24. Michael Joly blocked a shot at his own line, dished it up the ice and sprung Garbowsky. He got behind Lepine, fired a wrist shot past Starrett and both players went crashing into the net. J.C. Beaudin tacked on an empty-netter and closed the scoring at 4-2.
Wichita scored its first power-play goal of the series. Cuddemi finished with a goal and an assist. Bauer had two helpers.
The loss puts Wichita in a 3-0 series hole and Wichita could be eliminated Friday night. Interestingly, Wichita has led in every game this series, but have been unable to withstand the onslaught from Colorado once the Eagles got down in the contest.
Wichita has now lost their last four playoff games, dating back to the 2013 CHL Finals against Allen. Colorado, meanwhile, has eleven straight playoff games dating back to the 2016 Western Conference Finals against Toledo and seven straight over the Wichita Thunder dating back to their February 20 meeting.