Wichita, KS (Feb. 13th) - Wichita (22-18-2-4) jumped out to a four-goal lead in the first period and had to hold off a frantic Missouri (19-23-2-2) come-back attempt, winning 5-4 on Friday night at INTRUST Bank Arena in front of 10,490 fans. The Thunder scored a season-high four goals in a single period and got the game-winner from Kenton Miller in the second to improve to 7-2-0-0 in the Independence Cup Series. With the win, Wichita hits the 50-point plateau and is just two back of the Quad City Mallards for second place.
Justin Bernhardt led the way with three points in his home debut while RG Flath and Jared Walker also found the back of the net. Tim Boron earns his 16th win of the season while appearing in his 30th game for the Thunder.
The scoring onslaught started at 5:08 as Jared Walker picked a rebound out of the air and knocked it past Mike Clemente for his 11th of the season. The Mavericks bench argued that it should have been waived off for playing the puck with a high stick, but the official was there and the goal stood. 13 seconds later, Bernhardt sniped a wrist shot past the earhole of Clemente from the right circle and gave the Thunder a 2-0 lead. At 8:07, Flath wrapped a backhand off of the skate of Clemente from behind the goal line and increased it to a 3-0 advantage. The night was over for the Mavericks netminder as Josh Robinson was forced into the game. The Thunder found the net one more time when Bernhardt beat a defenseman to a rebound and put home a backhand at 15:43. The Mavericks stopped the bleeding at 17:14 when Andrew Courtney scored on the power play for his 17th of the season and the first period came to a close with Wichita leading 4-1.
Missouri opened the second period with a quick tally from Jack Downing just 15 seconds in and cut the lead to two. Wichita failed to clear it up the penalty box wall and Lindsay Sparks found Downing in the far circle. Kenton Miller, who has been outstanding against his former team this season, re-gained a three-goal advantage at 18:18 with a wrist shot over the blocker shoulder of Josh Robinson. The Thunder led in the shot department, outshooting Missouri 12-6 in the second and led 26-22 after two.
The come-back bid continued for the Mavericks, scoring twice in the third and cutting the lead to one. Geoff Walker found the net from the deep slot at 8:24. At 12:38 Josh Brittain's long shot got through Boron, who was out near the hash-marks and cut the lead to one. The Mavericks pulled Robinson with under two minutes to go for the extra attacker. The Thunder committed several icings before finally holding on as the clock wound down.
Wichita has 14 points in the Independence Cup Series against the Mavericks. Bernhardt led the way with two goals and an assist, all of which took place in the first period. Walker and Flath scored 13 seconds apart, which is the fastest two goals to this point of the season. Flath recorded his ninth of the season and 82nd of his Thunder career. Miller collected his fifth of the year against his former team and his 14th of the season. Boron claimed the victory, stopping 24 of 28 shots. Robinson allowed two goals on 22 shots while Clemente gave up three goals on seven shots.
Wichita went 0-for-2 on the power play. Missouri was 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Wichita heads down to Dallas tomorrow night to take on the Allen Americans starting at 7:05 p.m. The Thunder returns home this Sunday to face the Americans 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.