The captain tested out his injury by skating with the team on Friday morning, and, nearly every time that's happened in the past, Daniel Tetrault has declared himself healthy enough to play.
On this occasion, the news was different, and concerning, for the Wichita Thunder hockey team.
"I couldn't go — too painful," Tetrault said.
The defenseman said he expects to sit out 10 to 14 days in hopes that what he described as a "lower-body injury" will heal.
With news that Wichita will be without its hard-hitting leader, a somewhat gloomy atmosphere had settled over the game on Friday night.
The reversal of two nagging trends, however, turned the mood around and allowed the Thunder to bottle up Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 4-1 at Intrust Bank Arena.
First, the Thunder's power play, which has been awful at home, produced two goals in two opportunities. Entering play, Wichita had six power plays on home ice in 56 chances — the worst in the Central Hockey League.
But defenseman Jarred Mohr scored from the slot after taking a nice pass from Brett Hemingway, a power-play goal that put the Thunder up to stay at 2-1. While Mohr didn't blast his one-timer into the net, he still managed to beat Adam Dunn, who entered with a 1.51 goals-against average in three games.
"When Hemingway sees a guy open in the slot like I was, he's not gonna miss," Mohr said. "I didn't get all of it, but I got just enough to get it by him."
Midway through the third period, Matt Summers scored the other power-play goal, pushing the Thunder's lead 3-1, a comfortable margin with Adam Russo (11-4) in net.
The other reversal of the evening involved Chris Greene, who scored in the first period to put the Thunder up 1-0. It was Greene's first goal of the season, and the first by a member of the team's third line.
For weeks, coach Kevin McClelland has been pushing for the checking line to contribute at least a few goals here and there.
Alex Bourret, who continues to play at a high level, set up the goal for one of his three assists on the night. From behind the net, Bourret chipped the puck over the crossbar and off Dunn.
"The puck was bouncing in front of the net," Greene said. "If I would have missed that, I would have quit hockey."
The Thunder won its third consecutive game, improving to 15-7. Allen remained in first place in the Berry Conference, but Wichita is only two points behind.
"We knew we had to out tonight and work our butts off and come away with a win," Greene said.
Notes — Russo made 28 saves, improving his saves percentage to .898 and his goals-against to 2.63.... Tetrault, who has five goals, 14 points and is plus-3, attended the game. "I think I've only missed 20 games in 12 years, which is pretty amazing," he said. "It's frustrating to have to watch, but the guys played well, so that's good." ... With no penalties in the first period and only one in the third, the game was played in 2 hours, 16 minutes.... The Thunder has outshot opponents a CHL-high 13 times, but Rio Grande (29 to 27) got the better end of that stat.... The two teams play again tonight at Intrust.
Rio Grande Valley 0 1 0 — 1 Wichita 1 1 2 — 4
Scoring—1. Wichita, Greene 1 (Bourret, Chappell) 18:07; 2. Rio Grande, Marshall 6 1:17. Penalties— none.
Scoring—2. Rio Grande, Marshall 6 (unassisted) 1:47; 3. Wichita, Mohr 3 (B Hemingway, Robinson) 10:07 pp. Penalties— Rio Grande, (fighting) 5:38; Wichita, Donaghy (fighting) 5:38; Wichita, Bourret (unsportsmanlike conduct) 7:32; Rio Grande, Radke (delay of game) 7:32; Rio Grande, Mikkleson (fighting) 7:32; Wichita, Breauregard (fighting) 7:32; Rio Grande, Lee (hooking) 8:26.
Scoring—4. Wichita, Summers 6 (Beauregard, Bourret) 10:30 pp; 5. Wichita, Beauregard 10 (Greene) 19:00 en. Penalties— Rio Grande, Boogaard (delay of game) 8:37.
Power play—Rio Grande 0-0, Wichita 2 for 2.
Shots on goal—Rio Grande 6-14-9—29, Wichita 9-10-8—27.
Goaltenders—Rio Grande, Dunn 23 saves on 26 shots; Wichita Russo 28 saves on 29 shots.