#1 Wichita Thunder @ #4 Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
@ State Farm Arena, Face-off is 7:00 PM CT
(Thunder lead best-of-7 series 2-0)
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Series Schedule (all times local):
Game 1 – Fri., Mar. 30 – Rio Grande Valley 2 at Wichita 4
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 1 – Rio Grande Valley 1 at Wichita 2
Game 3 – TONIGHT – Wichita at Rio Grande Valley, 7:00 PM
Game 4 – Thu., Apr.5 – Wichita at Rio Grande Valley, 7:00 PM
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 7 – Rio Grande Valley at Wichita, 7:05 PM
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 9 – Wichita at Rio Grande Valley, 7:00 PM
*Game 7 – Wed., Apr. 11 – Rio Grande Valley at Wichita, 7:05 PM
: Game 3 of this Berry Conference opening series will start tonight at 7:00 CST in the State Farm Arena as the Killer Bees host the Thunder for the first time this postseason. Both Game 1 and 2 went to the home-town Thunder as they outscored Rio Grande 6-3 in these two games. The Killer Bees have the opportunity to chip away at the series deficit with a home game tonight and tomorrow (Game 4).
Game 1 – March 30
– The first game of this series went to Wichita who grinded out a 4-2 victory thanks to one particular player who stood out. Wichita’s RG Flath showed up to play that night and recorded his first career post season hat-trick along with notching the game-winning goal. He ended the night with a +4 and went on to earn the first star of the night. Line-mate Alex Bourret also had a solid night getting the other goal and helping Flath on two of his goals.
Game 2 – April 1
– The Thunder took advantage of home ice again in the second matchup and beat the Killer Bees 2-1, increasing the series advantage even more. Although Rio Grande goaltender John Murray made 41 saves, his team could not find ways to get the puck in the net. Wichita’s Chris Greene was the hero this night, notching the game winning goal and getting an assist as well. Chris Chappell also had an big impact in the game, notching an assist on both of Wichita’s goals.
Need to Know
: Wichita’s success if coming from their ability to get the puck on net. In the post season the Thunder average a league-high 40.0 shots per game and have kept the Killer Bees to only 26.5 shots per game (6th in league). Also, the Thunder are seeing production from unusual players such as Flath, Greene, and Chappell who had mediocre regular seasons.
Rio Grande’s top players have been struggling this post season and need to start clicking to get their offensive production going. Dan Gendur (1 pt, -5), Aaron Lee (0 pts), Tomas Klempa (1 pt, -5), and Brandon Campos (2 pts, -5) were the top four point-getters for the Killer Bees in the regular season and have been awfully quiet so far in these two games.
The Low Down
: In regular season play the Wichita Thunder swept the Killer Bees in all three games, and have now increased their record against them to 5-0-0 with their two playoff wins. Adam Russo has been unreal against Rio Grande going 4-0-0 with a 1.00 G.A.A., a .960 SV%, and one shutout. In the two playoff wins Russo has recorded a 1.50 G.A.A. with a .960 SV%.
Rio Grande Valley (who finished the regular season with a 17-0-1 record after leading after the first) has struggled to hold onto their early leads in this series. In both games the Killer Bees scored first and were leading after the first period, however, gave up the lead and went on to lose both games. They need to figure out a way to keep these leads and play all 60 minutes if they want to come back in this series.
Players to Watch
: It will be interesting to see who gets the start tonight for Rio Grande, but it should more than likely be John Murray who had a solid Game 2 despite the loss. Murray faced 43 shots in his only start and saved 41 of those (.953 SV%); he now sits in second in goaltending leaders with his save percentage. Wylie Rogers, on the other hand, is in last with his 4.06 G.A.A. and second-to-last with his .892 SV%.
From Wichita, fans should look out for Matt Robinson who has been quiet this series and is due for a huge game soon. In the two games played Robinson has not recorded a point, is a -1, and has 4 penalty minutes. This is complete opposite of his regular season play which saw him lead his team with 34 goals (58 points) and lead the entire league with 10 game-winning goals.