There was no shortage of interesting and entertaining stories from the Wichita Thunder hockey game on Wednesday, including Colin Hemingway scoring a hat trick, thanks to two assists from his brother Brett; goaltender Adam Russo turning in another fine performance; and, from the comedy portion of the evening, Erick Lizon doing a second-period impersonation of a chicken.
Even so, the Thunder's 5-3 victory over the Rapid City Rush in front of 3,007 fans at Intrust Bank Arena wasn't especially satisfying.
"We haven't put together a full 60 minutes together yet, and tonight was another example of that," Colin Hemingway said. "Right now, we're getting by working 20, 30 minutes a game. That's gotta stop."
With a three-in-three-nights weekend coming up, the Thunder improved to 6-1 but failed to impress in the process. Wichita managed only single-digit shot totals in every period and was outshot 34-20 by Rapid City.
Thus, coach Kevin McClelland sent a warning of sorts to his players.
"We were a little sloppy," he said. "We just weren't relentless on the forecheck, gave up a lot of odd-man rushes, lost a lot of one-on-one battles. We found a way to win, but we've got to be better than that.
"Some guys really have to get going."
That group doesn't include the Hemingway brothers, who, because of injury problems on the team, played on the same line Wednesday.
Colin Hemingway recorded his first hat trick in, by his estimation, three or four years — an outburst that gave him a team-leading five goals. Brett assisted on the last two goals, including the game-winner in the third period when, while skating hard down the right side, he sent a centering feed to his brother.
Colin Hemingway described it as an "unbelievable saucer pass."
The puck hit off Colin Hemingway's skate, then his stick, then past Rapid City goalie Danny Battochio to give the Thunder a 4-3 lead.
Colin Hemingway scored two goals in the opening period — the second one coming when he took a drop pass from Brent and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Rapid City goaltender Danny Battochio for a 2-1 Thunder lead.
But Rapid City controlled most of the second period, outshooting the Thunder 14-6. The Rush tied the score early in the period on a goal by Jesse Schultz, an American Hockey League veteran who played a couple NHL games, and took a 3-2 lead when he fed Jeff Kyrazkos for a one-timer in the slot.
At that point, the Thunder needed a momentum change, and Lizon tried to provide it, challenging Rapid City's Anthony Perdicaro to a fight. Perdicaro declined, skating away while Lizon flapped his arms chicken style to the delight of the crowd.
Even without the rumble, the Thunder still managed to even the game when defenseman Andrew Martens skated toward the net, took a perfectly placed pass from Alex Bourret and scored at 15:53.
Defenseman Daniel Tetrault scored an empty-netter for the game's final margin.
Russo, new to Wichita this season, made 31 saves and improved to 4-1.
"Just unbelievable," Brett Hemingway said of Russo. "He made the key saves when he had to."
Notes — Tetrault and Martens have both scored in three straight games.... Defenseman Kevin Seibel made his debut for the Thunder. Justin Hofstetter was waived. Leading scorer Matt Summers was placed on injured reserve, joining Tim Kraus and Robin Richards.... The Thunder is 9-16-1 against Rapid City, but is 3-0-1 in the last four games in Wichita.
Rapid City 1 2 0 — 3 Wichita 2 1 2 — 5
Scoring—1. Wichita, C Hemingway 3 (Beauregard, Bourret) 3:17; 2. Rapid City, Kyrzakos 4 (Limpright, Circelli) 7:59; 3. Wichita, C Hemingway 4 (B Hemingway Davis) 12:50. Penalties— Rapid City, Limpright (interference) 18:11.
Scoring—4. Rapid City, Schultz 3 (Wray, Forsyth) 1:34; 5. Rapid City, Kyrzakos 4 (Schultz, Reaney) 10:02 pp; 6. Wichita, Martens 3 (Bourret) 15:53 pp. Penalties— Rapid City, Perdicaro (roughing) 2:15; Wichita, Martens (interference) 2:36; Wichita, bench (too many men on the ice) 7:37; Wichita, Tetrault (hooking) 9:01; Rapid City, Perdicaro (interference) 13:51; Rapid City, Reeder (hooking) 15:12.
Scoring—7. Wichita, C Hemingway 5 (B Hemingway) 7:19; 8. Wichita, Tetrault 3 (Wight) 19:23 empty net. Penalties— Rapid City, Perdicaro (roughing) 4:41; Rapid City, Perdicaro (roughing) 8:00; Wichita, Sawyer (unsportsmanlike conduct) 8:00; Wichita, Chappell (roughing) 8:00; Wichita, Donaghy (roughing) 12:37.
Power play—Rapid City 1-5, Wichita 1-5.
Shots on goal—Rapid City 9-14-11—34; Wichita 9-6-5—20
Goaltenders—Rapid City, Battochio 15 saves on 19 shots. Wichita, Russo 31 saves on 34 shots.