In a boisterous Wichita Thunder dressing room, tough guy Robin Richards was playing the role of reporter, holding a fake microphone in front of Kory Scoran, one of the stars of the game.
"How do you think the rest of the boys played?" Richards asked.
Scoran smiled and said, "Pretty good too."
An intentional understatement, no doubt.
As the big defenseman knew full well, there was nothing "pretty good" about the Thunder's impressive performance against the Colorado Eagles on Friday night at Intrust Bank Arena.
Thanks to one of the most-entertaining periods in recent memory and a tirade by Colorado's coach, red-hot Wichita rallied past the conference-leading Eagles 5-4 for its third consecutive victory.
The wins have been impressive — a pair against Colorado, sandwiched around one over defending Central Hockey League champion Rapid City.
"We're trying to establish ourselves as a top contender in this league," Scoran said, this time in a real interview. "We didn't come here just to rebound from last year. We came here to win a championship. Beating top teams is what we have to do to establish ourselves."
The Thunder (9-7-2) didn't resemble a title team early, playing what coach Kevin McClelland described as a "sluggish" first period. The Eagles led 1-0 after that opening period and, following Scoran's power-play goal, added two more goals to extend the margin to 3-1 in the second period .
Soon after, Colorado coach Chris Stewart lost his composure.
After the Eagles were called for their third penalty of the game — Wichita had none at the time — Stewart yelled at the officials and, one at a time, threw three water bottles onto the ice. The last effort, a right-handed toss, sent the water bottle flying across the ice, almost reaching the penalty boxes.
Stewart got a game misconduct, and the Thunder took immediate advantage when A.J. Gale scored on the 5-on-3, trimming Colorado's lead to 3-2. That was only the beginning.
After several Thunder whacks, Scoran gained control of the puck in close and ripped it past Colorado goalie Andrew Penner for a power-play goal that tied the game. Then Bennefield scored on a breakaway for the Thunder's first lead, and Davis followed with a goal, assisted by Bennefield.
"Bennefield was doing what he does best — using lots of speed," McClelland said.
When it was over, the Thunder had scored four goals in 5 minutes, 55 seconds — a flurry of scoring that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead.
"We've got the firepower in here," Scoran said. "If we turn it on, we can put the puck in the net like that.
"We had a good talk in here between periods. We knew what we had to do. We had to get more shots on net. Guys came out with fire under their butts. We started shooting the puck, and good things always happen when you shoot the puck."
Notes — The Thunder's second-period blitz was impressive but nowhere near a record. On Nov. 9, 2001, the Thunder scored four goals in 2:50. Jeff Leiter, Blaz Emersic, Jason Duda and Jay Banach scored.... Former Thunder assistant coach Rob Boyle served as a replacement linesman during the first period. Referee Tudor Floru and Randy Sappo were late to the game; they were caught behind an accident in Oklahoma, the Thunder said. The start of the game was delayed about 30 minutes.... Rookie Marc-Antoine Gelinas got the win and improved to 7-2-1.... The Thunder plays at Mississippi tonight. Mississippi beat the Thunder 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 24 in Wichtia. The Thunder blew a 2-0 lead, with both goals coming from Bennefield.
Colorado 1 3 0 — 4 Wichita 0 5 0 — 5
Scoring—1. Colorado, Thurston 2 (unassisted) 14:52. Penalties— none.
Scoring—2. Wichita, Scoran 6 (Davis, Gale) :38 pp; 3. Colorado, Schneekloth 2 (Stanley, Nelson) 16:01; 4. Colorado, Workman, 4 (Rycroft) 7:31; 5. Wichita, Gale 6 (Scoran, Martens) 9:00 pp; 6. Wichita, Scoran 7 (Davis) 13:07 pp; 7. Wichita, Bennefield 10 (Schwab, Looby) 13:58; 8. Wichita, Davis 6 (Bennefield) 14:55; 9. Colorado, Schneekloth (Rycroft, Nelson) 15:48 pp. Penalties— Colorado, Ulanski (hooking) :28; Colorado, Workman (hooking) 5:01; Colorado, Desmet (roughing) 8:09; Colorado, bench (game misconduct) 8:09; Colorado, Pito (high sticking) 11:40; Wichita, Martens (hooking) 15:29; Colorado, Thurston (tripping) 16:54.
Scoring—none. Penalties— Wichita, Bennefield (holding) 7:12; Colorado, Bradley (interference) 11:35.
Shots on goal—Colorado 12-14-8—34, Wichita 8-19-5—32.
Power play—Colorado 1-2, Wichita 3-7.
Goaltenders—Colorado, Penner 27 saves on 32 shots; Wichita, Gelinas 30 saves on 34 shots.