Oklahoma City Blazers Hockey

Blazers Force OT vs. Wichita, Win 5-4

The Oklahoma City Blazers began their final weekend of the regular season in a big fashion, forcing overtime against the Wichita Thunder, and ultimately defeating the Thunder by a 5-4 score. Drennen Atherton picked up the win in net, making 25 saves to improve to 22-9-1 on the season. Erik Spath made 42 saves in net for Wichita in the loss.

Wichita opened up the scoring early as Peter Cicmanec scored 1:44 into the game, and Jesper Voss added a second goal at 3:31 to make it an early 2-0 lead for the Thunder. Ivan Bondarenko and Joel Leckstrom each added a goal in the first period, but another pair by Cicmanec and Voss gave Wichita the 4-2 lead after twenty minutes of play.

Leckstrom added his second goal of the game in period number two, scoring on the backdoor from a centering pass by Martin Hajsman, making it a 4-3 Blazers deficit. Both teams tussled back and forth for any momentum from that point on, and were held off of the scoreboard throughout. The next goal would finally come in the final minute of regulation time, as Drennen Atherton was pulled for the extra attacker with a minute-and-a-half left to go in the third period.

Off a faceoff, Griffin Wiencek won the puck and gave it back to Hajsman on defense. Hajsman sent the puck along the blueline for his defensive partner, Drake Johnson, and a one-timed shot gave Oklahoma City the tie game with 45 seconds left and sending the game into overtime.

During the 4-on-4 overtime period, another faceoff in the Wichita end was won by Wiencek. Vitali Mikhailov picked up the puck and started the play off with a shot off the post, but gathered in his own rebound. Taking the puck behind the net, Mikhailov found Wiencek in front for the game-winner, and Oklahoma City earned the coveted two points with the 5-4 win.

With the win and the Springfield Express loss to El Paso last night, the Oklahoma City Blazers currently sit in first place of the Midwest Division, holding a one-point lead over the El Paso Rhinos. The Blazers have a chance to clinch a first-round bye in the Thorne Cup Playoffs with a win and a Springfield loss tonight.

Oklahoma City and Wichita meet again tonight at the Blazers Ice Centre with a 5:00p Central time puck drop. Following the game, everyone in attendance is invited to skate with the Blazers players, with skate rentals available for purchase.