Independence, MO (March 28th) - Lindsay Sparks scored two empty-netters in the final two minutes of regulation that helped Missouri (25-33-4-3) pull away from Wichita (30-28-2-6) on Saturday night by the final score of 5-2 at the Independence Events Center. Wichita scored a pair of early goals in the second to take its only lead of the game, but gave up the next four. The Thunder win the regular season series 7-3-0-0 and claim the Independence Cup for the second year in a row. The Thunder have lost five in a row and drop back three points behind Tulsa with a head-to-head meeting tomorrow afternoon at INTRUST Bank Arena.
Andrew Courtney put the home team on the board first just five minutes into the contest. He got a pass across the crease from Sparks and fired it into the open net for the 1-0 lead. The Thunder had plenty of chances after that goal, but Josh Robinson stood tall in net. Wichita outshot the Mavericks in the first by a count of 12-9, but trailed after 20 minutes.
At the start of the second, Danick Gauthier found a wide open Justin Bernhardt and he scored on a breakaway just 58 seconds in to tie the game at one. At 3:09, Nikita Kashirsky made a nice play inside the defensive zone, carried up through center and found Todd Hosmer who fired one past Robinson from the slot. The Mavericks pulled back even with a goal from Tyler Currier at 5:36 on the power play that just got through Grant Rollheiser. Wichita was then forced to kill a two-man advantage as Eric Meland and RG Flath were both sent off for two minute minors. At 16:18, Michael Trebish and Sparks got into an altercation that led to a two minute power play for the Mavericks as Trebish was given an extra two for boarding. Ludwig Karlsson scored a few seconds later catching a feed from Sebastien Thinel at the right circle and put it through Rollheiser to make it 3-2.
Wichita pressed in the third to get the equalizer, outshooting the Mavericks 7-5. Gauthier had a great look at the right face-off dot, but was stopped by Robinson. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Mike Clemente would come on in relief after Robinson appeared to get clipped in front during a scramble for a loose puck. Clemente made four saves to preserve the win while Sparks scored a pair of empty-net markers that were just over one minute apart that made it 5-3.
Bernhardt claimed his 13th of the season and has 25 points in 24 games this year. Hosmer found the net for the 21st time this season and his first since March 18th. Rollheiser took the loss, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Robinson gets the victory, stopping 21 of 23 shots he faced.
Wichita was 0-for-1 on the man advantage. Missouri went 2-for-5 on the power play.
Wichita returns home for the final six games of the regular season beginning tomorrow afternoon against the Tulsa Oilers at 5:05 p.m.
Individual tickets are on sale now. Don't delay! Tickets can be purchased at the INTRUST Arena Box office, by calling 755-SEAT or go online at www.selectaseat.com. Stay up-to-date on all the news during the season by visiting www.wichitathunder.com.
About the ECHL
The ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 541 players who have started their career in the ECHL have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 29 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.