Game Five Comeback Ends in Heartbreak
INDEPENDENCE, MO- The Wichita Thunder lost 5-4 to the Missouri Mavericks in Game Five of the Opening Round at the Independence Events Center on Wednesday night.
The Mavericks win the series 3-2 and advance to the Turner Conference semifinals versus the Colorado Eagles.
The Thunder, who rebounded from a 9-50-5 season in 2009-10, has a remarkable turnaround come to an end in a year that saw them improve to 36 wins and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Nathan O'Nabigon's tie-breaking goal at 15:36 spoiled a huge Thunder comeback during the third period. O'Nabigon found a loose puck following a scramble in front of the crease and tipped it past the left of Marty Magers.
Wichita had a power play with as well as an extra attacker in the final minute but could not tie the game and send it to overtime.
Wichita trailed 4-1 heading into the third, but used three power play goals to tie the game. A.J. Gale shot a rebound past the left of Mavericks' goaltender Rob Nolan during a five-on-three at 1:09. On the ensuing five-on-four, Daniel Tetrault connected from the top of the left circle just 56 seconds later to trim the lead to 4-3. At 12:42, and during another Thunder power play, Andrew Martens drove the puck past Nolan from the top of the right circle to tie it.
Missouri used two power play goals from Nick Sirota in the first to build a 2-0 lead. Sirota re-directed Shawn Fensel's shot from the point past the left of Marc-Antoine Gelinas at 9:37 for the game's opening goal. Sirota connected again, after Gelinas was charged with a delay of game penalty, at 17:50 at the tail end of the man advantage, shooting from the slot. The Thunder cut the lead in half with less than a minute left in the frame when Daniel Tetrault deflected Jesse Bennefield's backhander from the left corner past the left of Nolan.
The Mavericks scored twice more in the second to open a 4-1 advantage. After several great saves by Gelinas, Ray DiLauro managed to punch in a loose puck from the left side of the crease at 12:58 to re-extend Missouri's lead.
At 15:12 during a stoppage in play, and with referee Ryan Hersey's back to the play, a linesman interjected a spearing major and game misconduct on Gelinas, resulting in a five-minute Missouri power play and Gelinas' ejection.
Derek Pallardy upped the Mavericks' lead to 4-1 at 16:35. Magers, who took over for Gelinas, made two acrobatic saves in front of the crease before Pallardy jammed the puck underneath Magers' left skate for the goal.
Magers took the loss, saving 12 of 14. Gelinas was 12 of 15 in the no-decision. Nolan earned the win, stopping 20 of 24. The Thunder was 3 for 5 on the power play. The Mavericks were 2 for 7.
The Thunder would like to thank all of their fans for making 2010-11 a tremendous season and look forward to continuing in the right direction this fall. Stay tuned to www.wichitathunder.com for information about season tickets for 2011-12.
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