Behind a three-goal outing from Alex Bourret, Wichita took a 3-1 lead in its best-of-seven series with a 4-2 win over the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees Thursday night at State Farm Arena. Wichita can close out the series at home on Saturday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
For the fourth time in this series, Rio Grande Valley scored first to take a 1-0 lead. Brady Leavold found a rebound in the left circle and beat Thunder starter Adam Russo with a power play goal. The two teams combined for six power plays and 20 minutes in the first period. Alex Bourret (2) pulled Wichita even with a short-handed goal with 28 seconds to go in the opening frame. Chris Chappell stole the puck at the Thunder line and came up on a two-on-two, fed over to Bourret who slipped it through Bees goalie John Murray to make it 1-1. Wichita outshot the Bees 21 to 6 in the first 20 minutes.
Wichita continued the momentum from the end of the previous 20 minutes and scored twice in the first three minutes of the second. Alex Bourret (3) found the back of the net after his centering feed redirected off a Bee in past Murray. At the three minute mark, Bourret came down with RG Flath on a short-handed two-on-one and Flath (4) buried it past Murray to make it 3-1. Dan Gendur cut the lead to one after a bad clearing attempt was intercepted and he made it 3-2 with 11 minutes to go in the period.
With two minutes to go in the third period, Rio Grande Valley was awarded a power play, but the Thunder didn't allow the Bees any room. Bourret (4) notched the hat trick with 10 seconds to go with an empty-netter and the Thunder won 4-2.
Wichita scored two short-handed goals and now has three in the post-season. Flath added to his career numbers against Rio Grande Valley, scoring 17 goals in 32 games. Bourret's hat trick is the second hat trick recorded by a Thunder player this post-season.
Wichita went 0-for-5 with the man advantage and Rio Grande went 1-for-7.