Pop quiz, hot shot
The Wichita Thunder gets a D grade for going winless in its first three games at Intrust Bank Arena. (The losses were close, keeping the team off the F list.) Marks are better for some new game-presentation elements:
Pre-game video: It starts with an attention-getting storm warning and ends with the sinister Vincent Price cackle from the "Thriller" video. In between, there are Thunder hits, goals, saves and fights, all broadcast on the impressive video screens on the four-sided scoreboard. Made by Wichita company Squid Ink Creative, this 1 1/2-minute gem starts the evening off right. Grade: A.
The Kiss Cam: Nearly everyone loves the on-screen smooches — or, better yet, that public awkwardness when a couple doesn't really want to pucker up, probably because the unreasonable wife is mad at the usually attentive husband after he forgot to set the DVR to record some dumb show like "Color Splash" on HGTV. Not that I would know anything about that. The only reason this isn't an A+ is because of the distracting comments by the PA guy. The Kiss Cam needs no play by play. Grade: B
Replays: There is real potential here to enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game, but so far the results have been inconsistent — both in terms of quality and timing. If you're going to advertise a "save of the game," make sure it's, you know, actually a great save. Grade: C
The "Whose Smile Is It?" contest: I'm sure Brent Ottman brushes and flosses after every meal, but there was something a little unsettling about seeing a tight close-up of his teeth in high res. on a giant video screen. Then again, I've been a little squeamish about anything dentistry-related ever since I saw "Marathon Man." Grade: B-
The Buddy System: SMG, which manages Intrust Bank Arena, has a policy that requires an employee to walk media members to their work areas. I like it because it keeps the autograph hounds off my trail, but I did have some explaining to do after I told my wife I spent part of the night with a female escort. Grace: B
Survival of the Chant: I tried to silence the "and they still suck" chant when the team moved to the new arena by calling it classless. Didn't work. So here's another reason to drop it: The chant isn't grammatically correct. A team is an "it." So when the announcer says, "Tulsa, full strength," fans should say "and it still sucks." Look, it's one thing to be classless, still another to flaunt obvious agreement errors. Grade: D.
Ad Man: The commercial featuring fisticuffs between Chris McAllister and a female waitress is priceless. Grade: A.
* Jason Hill is the latest addition to the Thunder. The 5-foot-9 forward had one goal and four points for Flint in the International Hockey League.
* Ryan Campbell (shoulder) is out three weeks. Chris McAllister is expected to return to action on Friday at Bossier-Shreveport.
My new chair at Intrust Bank Arena is really, really comfy.
The Thunder is 1-22-1 when allowing the first goal.
TAP OF THE STICK
Goalie Ian Keserich leads the CHL in save percentage at .926 and is fourth in goals-against with a 2.57, but, due to a lack of offensive support, he is 0-9 in Wichita.
Number of times, out of 39 games, that the Thunder has scored two or fewer goals in a game entering play Tuesday night.
HE SAID IT
"We've gotten plenty of positive feedback after three games. Our game-night stuff needs a little more flow — I'd like to see more flow with replays — but we're still getting used to the new arena. The way I look at, we've got 13 games to work on things and get better for next year."
—Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno