At the very first practice of the season, Jesse Bennefield, a skilled and speedy forward who knows a thing or two about goal scoring, predicted that the Wichita Thunder's offensive struggles were over.
Through the first four games — four losses that produced only eight goals — that confidence seemed like wishful thinking.
The team's past three outings, however, have offered hope for a franchise that has finished last in the Central Hockey League in scoring the past three seasons.
The Thunder won 4-3, 4-2 and 8-0.
Wichita (3-4) can post its first four-game winning streak since 2005-06 when the Arizona Sundogs (2-4) visit Intrust Bank Arena tonight.
What's impressive is the offensive balance the Thunder has shown. Consider that in the shutout victory, which came over Tulsa, seven players accounted for the eight goals. (Only Chris Moran scored twice, the first two goals of his pro career.)
And in the 4-2 win, also over Tulsa, four different players scored.
"All our lines are solid," forward Aaron Davis said. "Whoever is out there you feel like, hey, we could score a goal. That's what you need in this league these days."
Entering tonight's game, eight Thunder forwards have scored two goals or more; the Sundogs have two.
"You want that scoring by committee," coach Kevin McClelland said. "Guys are going to the net and paying the price. We're taking advantage of the two-on-ones instead of overpassing. We're going to the net, and when you go there you're usually going to get rewarded."
The Thunder offense — eighth in the 18-team CHL at 3.43 goals per game — has been fueled by the line of Bennefield, Davis and Chris Falloon. An all-star for Rio Grande last season, Bennefield has a team-high five goals, including two on the power play, and nine points.
"He's got that good, hard shot and a quick release," Davis said. "He sees the ice really well, too. He's just a natural goal scorer."
Davis, a playmaker who had a career year last season in Tulsa, has three goals and a team-leading six assists.
"It's been tough getting my rhythm back," Davis said. "But by the end of the weekend, I finally felt comfortable with the puck. Plus, I'm playing with two good players, so that helps."
Falloon, who played in Denmark last season, has three goals, including a game-winner. He has two goals and two assists in the past two games.
"He's definitely getting into his groove now," Davis said.