For interesting story lines, the Wichita Thunder hockey game was the place to be on Friday night.
The Thunder's Jesse Bennefield and Rio Grande Valley's Tomas Klempa, who were traded for each other in the offseason, both had big games against their former teams.
Wichita goalie Ian Keserich (0-3) didn't suit up while Marty Magers made his second start and the new kid in town, Marc-Antoine Gelinas, was the backup.
Intriguing stuff, to be sure, but mostly diversions to Wichita's win-starved fans, who simply wanted to witness a little success on the ice.
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After a slow, here-we-go-again start, the Thunder delivered, using a dominating second period to upend Rio Grande Valley 4-3 for its first win.
So the Thunder improved to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in Intrust Bank Arena, an outcome that allowed some loud, upbeat music to fill the locker room during postgame for the first time.
"It was huge for us," Thunder forward Troy Schwab said. "You gotta get that first one to have something to build on."
The Thunder appeared headed for 0-5 when Klempa scored a 5-on-3 goal early in the first period and then added another goal at the 6:45 mark.
But Bennefield brought the Thunder even 14 seconds into the second period with his team-leading fourth goal. Schwab put Wichita on top to stay less than two minutes later when, after a pass from Bobby Hughes, he ripped a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Rio Grande goalie Dan Rosen.
There was a delay — a tense one for the crowd of about 4,000 fans — before officials ruled the goal was good.
"I couldn't see anything; I just shot it through a screen," said Schwab, whose first-period goal cut Rio Grande's lead to 2-1. "It went over his shoulder and hit a bar of some sort.
"We'll take it."
Lance Galbraith pushed the lead to 4-2 with his first goal of the season later in the second period, during which the Thunder outshot Rio Grande 18-11.
"We created a lot of turnovers," coach Kevin McClelland said of the period. "We had guys driving to the net and creating opportunities."
McClelland was pleased with the way his team handled Rio Grande's speed.
"Yeah, they're a really fast, quick team," Schwab said. "We had to be aware all game, and I think we were. We played really hard for 60 minutes."
Magers was solid, stopping 27 shots and evening his record at 1-1.
It was just the third time in the 18-year history of the franchise that the Thunder had started 0-4.
"It was a big win for the morale of the team, for the fans and the organization in general," McClelland said. "Now it's over with. You have to move on to the next one."
Notes — The Thunder plays host to Tulsa tonight. The Oilers have beaten the Thunder twice — 4-3 and 4-1. McClelland, who seldom discloses information about his goalie plans, said he was uncertain who would start tonight. However, he said he would likely go with someone "fresh."... A costume contest will take place during tonight's intermission. Fans can bring a can tonight to benefit Operation Holiday and receive discounted tickets to a future game.
Wichita1 3 0 — 4 Rio Grande 2 1 0 — 3
Scoring—1. Rio Grande, Klempa (Lee, McClellan) 2:37 pp; 2. Rio Grande, Klempa (Muncy, Campbell) 6:45; 3. Wichita, Schwab 1 (Hughes) 13:31. Penalties— Wichita, Bennefield (interference) 2:05; Wichita, Tetrault (boarding) 2:14.
Scoring—4. Wichita, Bennefield 4 (unassisted) :14; 5. Wichita, Schwab 2 (Hughes, Gale) 1:49; 6. Wichita, Galbraith 1 (Moran) 9:50; 7. Rio Grande, Lewicki (Burton, Lee) 15:38. Penalties— Wichita, Falloon (kneeing) 16:46; Rio Grande, Gendur (roughing) 18:25.
Scoring—None. Penalties— Wichita, Gale (slashing) 6:52; Rio Grande, McClellan (hooking) 7:37; Wichita, Hughes (spearing) 11:00; Rio Grande, Radke (hooking) 12:56; Rio Grande, Smyth (hooking) 14:04.
Shots on goal—Rio Grande 11-11-8—30, Wichita 9-18-10—37.
Power play—Rio Grande 1 of 5, Wichita 0 of 5.
Goaltenders—Rio Grande, Rosen 33 saves on 37 shots. Wichita, Magers 27 saves on 30 shots.