WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita (23-24-4) fought back from a two-goal deficit and pulled out a 4-3 shootout victory over the Arizona Sundogs (24-22-6) on Tuesday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. Jared Walker and Jon Booras scored just over two minutes apart in the second period that helped tie the game and Tomas Klempa recorded his first shootout goal of the season in the bottom of round six for the win. The Thunder has won its last six games that have been decided in a shootout and are just four points back of the Sundogs with the win. Wichita is is 2-3-0 against Arizona this season and will host the Sundogs on Sunday afternoon for the final time this season.
Just 11 seconds into the game, the Sundogs were awarded a power play when Dustin Donaghy was called for interference off a face-off. Arizona didn’t waste any time getting on the board as Dion Campbell tipped in a shot from the blue line at 1:47 to make it 1-0. Mike Wilson tied it at one at 10:29 after Jesse Dudas’ shot came to him in front of the net. The Sundogs re-gained the lead late in the first after a clearing attempt from Walker was scooped up by Justin Pender, moved up the ice into the offensive zone and he beat David Brown under the glove with 24 seconds remaining to make it 2-1.
Kevin Baker added to the Arizona lead three minutes into the second with a wrist shot just inside the Thunder blue line that got past Brown and made it 3-1 in favor of the visitors. Brown was taken out of the contest and Taylor Nelson was called upon in relief. After a Michael Trebish tripping penalty expired, Walker picked the puck out of mid-air with his stick below the cross-bar and cut the lead to 3-2 at 16:15. The Sundogs would commit another infraction five minutes later when Bryan Cameron retaliated on Mike Wilson at the Thunder line with a slash that put him in the box. 18 seconds later, Jon Booras tracked down a loose puck after Andrew Engelage lost it behind the net and scored to tie the game at 18:46.
Both teams had power play chances in the third period as Johan Ryd was called for goalie interference less than two minutes in. Arizona was able to kill off the power play and got an opportunity four minutes later as RG Flath was sent off for a high stick. Later in the period, Arizona had another chance with the man advantage, but failed to capitalize on it when Booras was called for slashing with three minutes left in the contest. Neither team could find the back of the net and for the first time this season, the two teams headed into overtime. Wichita would have a carry-over power play as Alex Tuckerman was in the penalty box for slashing at 19:32.
The Thunder started the five-minute extra period with a four-on-three man advantage, but couldn’t get it by Engelage. Wichita finished the extra period with three shots on net while Arizona was credited with two. The final horn sounded and the shootout was needed.
Jason Morgan led things off at the top of round one, but missed a backhand at the top of the crease. Matt Summers went next and beat Engelage with a wrist shot to the upper portion of the net. The next four shooters were unsuccessful as Matt Robinson and Booras missed for Wichita and Baker and Shawn Limpright were denied for Arizona. Ryd got one past Nelson at the top of round four that evened the shootout at one goal a-piece. Flath and Ian Lowe couldn’t find the back of the net for the Thunder in rounds four and five. Alex Tuckerman and Garrett Clarke were both stopped by Nelson in rounds five and six. Klempa was next and he buried a wrist shot for the game-winner at the bottom of round six for his first game-winner of the season, giving Wichita the extra point.
Wichita has won its last six shootouts and is 6-1 this season in shootout situations. The Thunder claim its first shootout win at home this year as each of the previous five have come on the road. Mike Wilson finished with a goal and an assist and claimed the number two star. Klempa tallies his first game-winner of the year and is 1-for-4 in shootout situations this season. Booras records his seventh power play goal of the season and his first goal since January 19th. Nelson improves to 3-0 in shootout situations, allowing just three goals against on 18 shootout attempts. He also collects his 12th win of the year, stopping all 11 shots he faced in the relief effort. Engelage takes the shootout loss, stopping 37 of 40 shots in 65 minutes of work.
Wichita went 1-for-6 on the power play. Arizona was 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
With Wichita Thunder team release
Contact the photographer: Ed.Bailey@prohockeynews.com