The first Thunder loss of the season was a good barometer for coach Malcolm Cameron about how motivated his team is to avoid them in the future.
A three-minute mental lapse, according to Cameron, was to blame for the Thunder’s 5-3 loss to Allen on Friday night at Intrust Bank Arena. It seemed to be taking longer for Wichita’s players to shake off their first defeat after starting this season with six straight wins.
Allen scored three third-period goals, the first two in a 34-second span, after the Thunder led 3-2.
“Sometimes you need a game like this, to have your heart broken in a certain way, to realize that you have flaws and that you have to play the whole game,” Cameron said. “Guys are disappointed. Nobody likes to lose, especially when you lose your winning streak, but now we want to try to get back on another one.
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“In the grand picture of things, you want your team to learn lessons over the course of the season, to draw back and try to remember things. So when you get into a situation like that again, guys are remembering those situations.”
Even with the third-period lapse, the Thunder showed the qualities it used during its winning streak. With a vastly different roster than the team that dropped into last place in Cameron’s first season, Wichita seems to have addressed all of the issues that plagued the team.
The Thunder, with most of its core players younger than 25, possess speed and skill that wasn’t always present last season. The passes are crisp and Wichita doesn’t shy away from a physical game or wait until it is trailing to assert itself.
The lapses, in theory, anyway, can be easily fixed when the problems don’t run much deeper.
“It’s certainly not a talent issue,” Cameron said. “Or a size issue or a goaltending issue or anything like that. I’ve been through this in the 800 games I’ve coached in this league.”
With 22 skaters on the roster, Wichita sits several players each night to meet the limit of 18 allowed to dress by the ECHL. Cameron spoke of depth before the season and his description is proving true, with Samuel Thibault and Dana Tyrell scheduled to return soon from brief absences and further complicate the roster crunch.
Most games, and most minutes, the Thunder exhibits the depth, talent and physicality Cameron describes. For three minutes on Friday, those qualities were missing. It hasn’t happened often and the Thunder appears to have the ability to keep it from happening again.
“I like the way we cycled the puck and broke down their coverage,” Cameron said. “We scored some pretty goals – that first one from (Mark) MacMillan was really nice. Those are the positive things. We generated some good scoring chances, our power play moved it around well and our (penalty kill) was good.”
Allen 2 0 3 – 5
Wichita 2 1 0 – 3
Scoring—1. Wichita, MacMillan (Sofron, Stevenson), 2:30; 2. Allen, Chouinard PP (McArthur, Makowski), 3:10; 3. Allen, Lessard (Hall), 15:57; 4. Wichita, Marcotte PP (Sofron, Chase), 18:13. Penalties—Wichita, Marcotte (face-off violation), 2:32; Allen, Thrower (tripping), 12:20; Allen, Gunn (interference), 17:48; Wichita, Beaudry (tripping), 18:40.
Scoring—5. Wichita, O’Brien (Stevenson, Platzer), 9:46. Penalties—Wichita, Polei (high-sticking), 11:51; Allen, Thrower (slashing), 16:03; Wichita, Polei (high-sticking), 19:01.
Scoring—6. Allen, Schoenborn (Pierro-Zabotel), 2:49; 7. Allen, Arseneau (Pierro-Zabotel, Pochiro), 3:23; 8. Allen, Lessard (Leavens, Roy), 10:16.
Power play—Allen 1-4, Wichita 1-3. Shots—Allen 12-16-15—43, Wichita 8-9-17—34. Saves—Allen, Brodeur 23-25, Williams 8-9; Wichita, Rumpel 38-43.