If you look at the situation objectively, Wichita Thunder goalie Ian Keserich had little to reason to stand before his teammates and make a bold prediction.
Despite impressive statistics, he was winless in Wichita, and the Thunder had lost a league-record 19 games in a row at home, including seven at Intrust Bank Arena.
Keserich, however, is the artsy, spiritual type and not a conventional thinker, so he held court in the team's dressing room and made an unexpected promise before Sunday's game against the visiting Texas Brahmas.
"We're getting a win tonight, boys — no matter what," he told his teammates.
Delivering on the brash statement, Keserich shut out Texas — defending CHL champion Texas — and the Thunder won 1-0 in front of 3,782 fans at Intrust Bank Arena.
Keserich, who is 1-12-1 with the Thunder, made 27 saves, including 11 in a tension-filled third period to hold off Texas, which had won eight games in a row.
When the game was over, Keserich held his stick in the air and skated toward center ice. He was hugged by Kevin Cooper, then Chris McAllister and then Jason Woll before he was surrounded by the rest of the team.
"I felt patient tonight, and I felt square to every puck that was shot at me," he said. "There were a couple times when the puck was passed backdoor and I didn't make it and my guys, my defense, came up huge.
"It was a team effort. It wasn't just about my saves percentage, it was about the whole team's saves percentage."
In the second period, Keserich kept the game scoreless by stopping two breakaways by Texas. Soon after, Thunder rookie Brent Ottmann scored the game's only goal when his shot from beyond the blue line glanced off Texas goalie Joe Palmer, over his shoulder and trickled into the net.
When he fired the puck, Ottmann was at the end of a long shift, and he certainly didn't expect to score a game-winning goal.
"I was just throwing the puck at the net," he said, grinning.
The slim lead was enough for Keserich, whose big night increased his save percentage in Wichita to .922 and lowered his goal-against average to 2.67.
Keserich was, of course, happy to have lead for a change, but it added a bit of pressure — given his pre-game prediction.
"As soon as we got the lead, it was on my shoulders that much more to keep the puck out of the net," he said. "With the statement I made in the locker room, I didn't want to let anybody down."
Notes — Defensemen Steve Makway, J.R. Bria and Mark Adamek sat out with injuries. Adamek is on the 14-day injured reserve list.... Texas' Palmer, who shut out the Thunder earlier this season, made 39 saves. "It should have been a 5-0 game," Thunder interim coach Jason Duda said. "Their goalie played fantastic."... The Thunder is 8-38-4.... Newcomer A.J. Bozoian, who signed on Friday, had an assist on Ottmann's game winner. Keserich had an assist, too.
Texas0 0 0 — 0 Home0 1 0 — 1
Scoring—none. Penalties— Wichita, Strome (holding) 4:03; Texas, Seibel (holding) 8:50; Texas, Palmer (delay of game) 14:45; Wichita, Keserich (delay of game) 18:19.
Scoring—1. Wichita, Ottman 5 (Bozoian, Keserich) 12:16. Penalties— Texas, Seibel (slashing) 4:01; Texas, McLeod (cross checking) 7:54; Texas, Burto (roughing) 20:00; Texas, Skworchinski (roughing) 20:00; Wichita, Woll (roughing) 20:00; Wichita, Beauchamp (roughing) 20:00.
Scoring—none. Penalties— Wichita, McAllister (cross checking) 8:04; Texas, Minard (interference) 9:19; Wichita, Bozoian (holding the stick) 14:52.
Power play—Texas 0-4, Wichita 0-5.
Shots on goal—Texas 10-6-11—27, Wichita 9-22-9—40.
Goaltenders—Texas, Palmer 39 saves on 40 shots. Wichita, Keserich 27 saves on 27 shots.