The Thunder’s second loss this season, a 2-1 overtime defeat against Kansas City on Wednesday night at Intrust Bank Arena, didn’t look much different from the team’s 10 wins.
Wichita displayed its superior passing, had a significant shots advantage and played more physically than Kansas City, all hallmarks of the Thunder’s fast start. The only thing missing was the usual product of those assets – scoring.
Kansas City’s Tyler Parsons stopped 38 shots, the most by a Thunder opponent this season, and Missouri scored 19 seconds into overtime. Wichita remains one of two ECHL team with 10 wins.
“It’s one of those games, you run into a hot goalie,” Thunder coach Malcolm Cameron said. “A lot of teams have been facing our hot goalies. Eighteen (shots) to three in the first period and you’re down 1-0, but you’ve got to persevere. Giving up two goals or less in the minor leagues, that’s pretty good defense.”
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Kansas City couldn’t match the Thunder in speed, skill or strength, but the Mavericks took a 1-0 lead three minutes into Wednesday’s game and withstood nearly every Thunder push that followed.
The 18-3 shots advantage in the first period proved to be an empty number for the Thunder, which couldn’t convert any against Parsons. The balanced seemed to be coming when Zach O’Brien scored a second-period goal for the Thunder to tie it 1-1.
O’Brien scored following a cross-ice pass from Istvan Sofron, an example of the puck movement Cameron has credited with helping the Thunder to a fast start. Wichita also mixes in toughness from players such as Evan Polei, who forced a Missouri player to the bench after a hard check along the boards.
“That’s kind of typical of most of the teams I’ve had over the years,” said Cameron, Wichita’s second-year coach. “You’ve got to have a little blend of everything because your rosters are so unstable at this level. You’ve got to have guys who can jump up and move sideways and play defense when you need them to.
“You’ve got to have all those ingredients and different layers in your lineup.”
At least for one game, the Thunder couldn’t put them together to earn a win. Missouri slowed the game enough to keep Wichita’s speed from taking over, holding the Thunder to 21 shots after the 18-shot first period.
The Thunder narrowly missed a short-handed game-winner with a minute to go in overtime, as Parsons batted a buck away from the goal line. Two other shots hit the post, but Missouri congested the area around the net to limit the Thunder.
“I’d like to see us get to the net a little bit better,” Cameron said. “I thought they did a good job of boxing us out, so you’ve got to spin off guys and fight for those rebounds. But the goaltender made some really good saves tonight with some heavy traffic in front of him.”
Kansas City 1 0 0 1 -- 2
Wichita 0 1 0 0 -- 1
First period—1. Kansas City, McMurtry (Kwas, Aneloski), 3:17.
Second period—2. Wichita, O’Brien (Sofron, Crevier-Morin), 9:43.
Overtime—3. Missouri, Nowick (unassisted), 0:19.
Power plays—Kansas City 0-4, Wichita 0-2. Shots—Kansas City 3-14-7-1—25, Wichita 18-8-13-0—39. Saves—Kansas City, Parsons 38-39; Wichita, Starrett 23-25.