The Stanley Cup was at Intrust Bank Arena on Sunday night, which may have had Thunder players thinking about a championship trophy of their own.
The NHL’s championship trophy was an honored guest, even spending time in the Thunder locker room before the game.
Unlike Saturday, the first-place Thunder (43-16-3) didn’t need a third-period rally to defeat Arizona, as Bryan Hogan sparkled in goal, recording his first shutout in Wichita with a 4-0 triumph and winning for the 10th time in 11 starts.
The Cup might have inspired the Wichita players.
“Everybody knows about the Cup and the history of the Cup, and, yeah, it probably does give them a boost,” said Thunder coach Kevin McClellan, whose name is etched on the cup four times from his titles with the Edmonton Oilers.
Once the game began, fans were allowed to view the Cup and have pictures taken with it for $5, all of which went to charity.
Thunder players expressed reverence at the sight of the trophy.
“Every kid wants to see that, right?” said defenseman Kevin Seibel, who assisted on two Thunder goals. “It’s pretty amazing to see it, to see all the names on there, see Macker’s (McClelland’s) name, (Wayne) Gretzky, all of them.
“Just seeing that, it kind of re-inspires you.”
Matt Robinson, who began the scoring with his 33rd goal in the second period, was equally impressed.
“It was good to see it, you may not ever get a chance to hold it or lift it, but it was good to see,” he said.
Neither side scored until Robinson’s goal at the 5:51 mark of the second period.
But Arizona, last in the Berry Conference, couldn’t get the puck past Hogan, and his defense saw to it that the Sundogs didn’t all game.
“He’s been phenomenal since he came over (from Dayton in January), outdid all of our expectations and that really takes a lot of pressure off (Adam Russo), because we’re confident with whoever is in net every night,” Seibel said.
The second period might have been Hogan’s biggest test. The Thunder was penalized four times in the period, including five-minute fighting penalties to Alex Bourret (who also earned a game misconduct) and Chris Chappell, giving Arizona (17-37-9) extra time to score. Through it all, the Sundogs managed 16 shots on goal for the entire period and were turned away every time.
“The guys make it a lot easier,” he said. “(With) seven minutes (in penalties) up on the board, I kind of paced myself. We killed it off, and I think that was the turning point for us.”
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