The finish to the game was dramatic and remarkable but ultimately disappointing for the Wichita Thunder, which lost 3-2 to Mississippi in a shootout that went 15 rounds on Wednesday night at Intrust Bank Arena.
Despite two goals from Jesse Bennefield, the Thunder (6-6-2) lost its fourth consecutive game, including its second straight shootout loss at home.
Bennefield, who leads the Thunder with eight goals, nearly had a hat trick, but his shot midway through the third period clanked off the crossbar. So the game went into OT, and then into the shootout — and that has been bad news for the Thunder, which hasn't won a home shootout since March of 2007.
Not that the Thunder didn't come through with some clutch goals in the marathon shootout. Two times — Bobby Hughes in the fifth round and Aaron Davis in the seventh — Wichita shooters scored do-or-die goals to extend the shootout. (After five rounds, the shootout becomes sudden death.)
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But after Mississippi's Louis Dumont beat Thunder goalie Marc-Antoine Gelinas in the 15th round, Wichita's Troy Schwab failed to score, ending the game. Mississippi improved to 7-8.
Bennefield gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead in the first period. On the Thunder's third power play, Bennefield took a feed from Schwab and scored his team-leading seventh goal. The puck appeared to hit off the pad of Mississippi goalie Alexander Pechursskiy before trickling into the net.
The same combination — Schwab found Bennefield in front of the net — made it 2-0 early in the second period.
But Mississippi trimmed the lead to 2-1 when Nathan Lutz floated a shot over the shoulder of Gelinas for a power-play goal at 10:15. Later in the period, Matt Summers poked in a bouncing puck to for another power-play goal that tied the game.
It was a newsy day for the Thunder, even before the game started.
A day after goalie Marty Magers was placed on injured reserve (retroactive to Nov. 6), he was removed from IR and backed up Gelinas on Wednesday. Peter Delmas, who signed a contract on Tuesday, was put on IR.
In addition, the Thunder signed 6-foot-4 Robin Richards, who was fourth in the CHL in penalty minutes last season with 237. The forward also had nine goals and 10 assists.
Richards wasted little time getting to work, squaring off with 6-6 Milan Maslonka in the first period.
Notes — According to the CHL rule book, the shootout was not handled correctly by the officials. The rule book states that, after 10 shooters, the teams must return to their first shooter, then return to their second shooter and so on. Neither team used the same order after their 10th shooter.... The game was the first of six meetings between the teams this season.... The Thunder will play host to Colorado on Saturday on Toys for Tots night. Fans can get a buy-one, get-one-free ticket in certain seating areas by bringing a new or unwrapped toy to the Thunder office at 505 W. Maple.
Mississippi 0 2 0 0 1 — 3 Wichita 1 1 0 0 0 — 2
Scoring—1. Wichita, Bennefield 7 (Schwab, Martens) 8:18 pp. Penalties— Mississippi, Richards (interference) 1:25; Wichita, bench (too many men on the ice) 3:12; Mississippi, Lutz (high sticking) 5:09; Mississippi, Christian (hooking) 7:21; Mississippi, Maslonka (fighting) 8:23; Wichita, Richards (fighting) 8:23; Wichita, Hand (hooking) 8:58; Wichita, Gelinas (tripping) 19:29.
Scoring—2. Wichita, Bennefield 8 (Schwab, Martens) 4:49; 3. Mississippi, Lutz 5 (Landmesser, Christian) 10:15 pp; 4. Mississippi, Summers 6 (Richards, Christian) 16:01 pp. Penalties— Mississippi, Miller (interference) 6:47; Mississippi, Maslonka (fighting) 8:54; Wichita, Hand (fighting) 8:54; Wichita, Galbraith (interference) 9:15; Wichita, Bennefield (elbowing) 11:31; Wichita, Bennefield (holding) 15:42; Mississippi, Miller (slashing) 17:10; Mississippi, Richards (interference) 19:08.
Mississippi: Summers, make; Richards, miss; Christian, miss; Landmesser, miss; Dumont, make; Stoddard, miss.; Miller, make; Lutz, miss; Sarazin, miss; Smith, miss; Richards, miss; Summers, miss; Landmesser, miss; Miller, miss; Dumont, make.
Wichita: Robinson, make; Schwab, miss; Bennefield, miss; Moran, miss; Hughes, make; Gale, miss; Davis, make; Looby, miss; Martens, miss; Galbraith, miss; Robinson, miss; Hughes, miss; Davis, miss; Moran, miss; Schwab, miss.
Power play—Mississippi 2-6, Wichita 1-6. Goaltenders— Mississippi, Pechursskiy 28 saves on 30 shots. Wichita, Gelinas 23 saves on 25 shots. A.— 3,817.