When a Wichita B-52s player scores a goal, he autographs a mini soccer ball and tosses it to the fans.
Matt Clare’s hand is probably tired after Saturday night’s game.
Clare – the B-52s leading scorer – scored six goals, four in the first half, but Wichita needed six goals in the final period to subdue St. Louis 14-9 at Hartman Arena.
Not to be outdone, defenseman Brady Bryant scored three goals of his own.
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“They (both) changed shoes today,” joked B-52s defenseman Alex Moseley, who had a goal and an assist of his own. “I think it was the luck of the shoes.”
The victory – the B-52s’ fourth straight – pushed Wichita above the .500 mark at 7-6. A week ago, Wichita won its third straight, also at home over St. Louis (3-9).
“(Saturday) was a great win,” Clare said. “It’s what we needed. To put it together like that is truly incredible.”
Getting above .500 was significant, Clare said.
“First time in the new era,” he said. “It’s a huge landmark for us that we needed to get to. Four games straight for us is a huge accomplishment.”
Along with his offensive highlights, Clare also provided some suspense when he suffered a twisted ankle and had to be helped from the field with 9:40 left in the game.
“I tried not to freak them out too much,” Clare said.
He later returned and scored his sixth goal on a booming shot into an empty net.
“All my buddies in the Garvey Center where I live, we call those ‘bangers,’ and I got a ‘banger’ tonight,” he said. “Keeps a smile on my face.”
St. Louis, which stayed stride for stride with the B-52s for most of last Saturday’s game, came out using a rougher style of play in this game.
“It was a big game for us,” Clare said. “We had to be above their intensity level. They’re a very scrappy team, a very intense team. We had to match that.”
In addition to Clare, three other B-52s went down with minor injuries during the game.
“It’s not easy beating a team two times in a row, much less three times in a row,” Moseley said. “So if you think (Saturday) was physical, it’s going to be worse in St. Louis (next Saturday).
“But it’s part of the game. You’ve got to ice your sore knees or whatever, then get back out there and do it again.”
Wichita’s next three games are on the road. After St. Louis next Saturday, the B-52s travel to Chicago on Sunday and Milwaukee on Jan. 31 to face two teams ahead of them in the standings.
“This is the exact momentum we need going into a tough doubleheader weekend,” Moseley said. “This is a great way to go there.”
First quarter – 1. Wichita, Bryant (Pittman), 2:02; 2. St. Louis, Kafedzic (Sinclair), 2:11; 3. Wichita, Alvarez (Ten Eyck), 4:01; 4. Wichita, Clare (pp) (Pittman), 10:41; 5. St. Louis, Gabeljic (Dimaria), 13:06; 6. Wichita, Clare (O’Dell), 13:15. Penalties – Dimaria, StL (tripping), 8:55.
Second quarter – 7. St. Louis, Gurson (unassisted), 1:20; 8. St. Louis, Ordell (Kafedzic), 3:07; 9. Wichita, Clare (Ten Eyck), 4:43; 10. St. Louis, Sinclair (Kafedzic), 5:44; 11. Wichita, Clare (Hobson), 9:17. Penalties – Bryant, Wich, (tripping), 10:42; Ordell, StL, (elbowing), 12:11; Kafedzic, StL (dissent; five-minute misconduct).
Third quarter – 12. St. Louis, Kranz (Vandegriffe), 2:04; 13. St. Louis, Kranz (Vandegriffe), 7:55; 14. Wichita, Moseley (Clare), 11:47; 15. Wichita, Alvarez (Moseley), 14:06. Penalties – Sinclair, StL (five-minute misconduct), 11:30.
Fourth quarter – 16. Wichita, Clare (unassisted), 1:32; 17. St. Louis, Costakis (Kafedzic), 1:54; 18. Wichita, Bryant (Pittman), 5:01; 19. Wichita, Sebele (unassisted), 11:02; 20. Wichita, Bryant (empty net) (unassisted), 11:36; 21. Clare (empty net) (unassisted), 11:34; 22. Filho (Alvarez), 12:31; 23. Gabeljic (Hagerty), 13:00. Penalties – Dimaria, StL (pushing), 13:00.
Shots – St. Louis on Pardo, 22, 13 saves; Wichita on Hagerty, 39, 22 saves.