Rapid City, SD (Jan. 23rd) - A back-and-forth contest didn't go Wichita's (18-5-2-4) way on Friday night, falling in the Black Hills to Rapid City (17-20-0-2) by the final score of 5-4 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. The two teams traded goals into the second period before the Rush outscored the Thunder 3-2 in the final two frames. Wichita drops to 2-3-0-1 against Rapid City in the season-series and will see the Rush once again tomorrow night.
Danick Gauthier and Mike Wilson led the way for the Thunder with two points each while four different players found the back of the net.
After a slow start, the two teams scored three goals in less than a minute. Jared Walker got the scoring started at 12:43 with his ninth of the season. He caught a nice feed in front from RG Flath and beat Johnny Griggs over the blocker. Rapid City answered 21 seconds later when Jesse Schultz stopped a clearing attempt just inside the Thunder line, came up to the right face-off dot and beat Tyler Bunz to make it 1-1. Kenton Miller re-gained the lead 20 seconds later with a wrist shot from the right circle. Johan Ryd tied the game at two with 28 seconds remaining in the first, getting to a loose puck that bounced off the end wall to the front of the net and he scored his third of the season.
In the second, Todd Hosmer gave Wichita their third lead of the game with a wrist shot from the right face-off dot off the rush and made it 3-2. That would be it for Griggs as he got the hook and Danny Battochio came on in relief. The move seemed to ignite Rapid City as they scored the next two. Cody Ferriero went back-to-back with his first coming at 7:38. As he was coming down the slot, he scored from his backside while sliding into Bunz and tied it at three. His second came on the power play at 16:51 as he caught a pass across the slot from Jesse Schultz.
Wichita took advantage of some penalty trouble from Rapid City and pulled even early in the third. Ian Lowe swung around the top of the circles and blasted a one-timer past Battochio to tie it at four. The goal came on a five-on-three man advantage, giving Wichita power play goals in back-to-back games. At 12:51, Ryd got his stick on a shot from the blueline and the puck trickled through Bunz to make it 5-4. Wichita outshot the Rush in the final period 8-4, but couldn't find the equalizer. After pulling Bunz, the Thunder hemmed Rapid City inside the zone and had some good chances that Battochio kept out of the net.
Walker connected on his ninth of the season and needs one more to set a new career-high. Lowe recorded his 15th of the year, pushing past his numbers from a year ago. Gauthier collects his 12th multi-point outing of the season while Wilson added his second two-point game of the year. Bunz took the loss, stopping 18 of 23 shots. Battochio claims the win in relief, stopping 13 of 14 shots he faced.
Wichita went 1-for-5 on the power play. Rapid City was 1-for-2 with the man advantage.
Wichita remains in the Black Hills tomorrow night for the final meeting between the two teams at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center this season, beginning at 8:0 p.m. CST.
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.