PARK CITY — The urgent dispatch came over general manager Joel Lomurno's radio late in the third period: Winners in the Wichita Thunder's jersey auction were tardy reporting to the tunnel to line up for their prizes.
"That's because they're watching the game," responded Lomurno, the team's general manager.
Indeed, the Thunder and its newly discovered physical style are keeping fans in their seats these days.
While Wichita lost 4-3 in a shootout to visiting Tulsa, the team likely gained a measure of good will from fans for providing drama and excitement — emotions largely missing from the Kansas Coliseum this season.
The Thunder (3-9-2) generally abused the Oilers (10-3) and earned a point — not a bad night's work against the best team in the Northern Conference.
Interim coach Jason Duda hasn't posted many wins yet — he's 1-2-2 since taking over for fired Brent Bilodeau — but the team has noticeably picked up its intensity.
"We should've won it in overtime; their goalie made a couple of great saves," Duda said. "The last two periods and into overtime, the guys played hard, battled. If we play like that and get effort like that, we're going to be just fine."
The Thunder was in position to position to earn more than simply a moral victory, thanks in large part to Mark Adamek. The 6-foot-4 defenseman hadn't produced a goal all season, but he scored two power-play goals late — the first one on a 5-on-3 — to give the Thunder a 3-2 lead.
With the crowd of about 5,000 preparing for a post-game celebration, Tulsa's Michel Beausoleil scored from in close with just 1 minute, 30 seconds left.
"They get a lucky goal to tie it up," said Duda, shaking his head. "We've been a team that's right there, but we can't step over that line."
The Thunder kept Tulsa's top offensive threats, T.J. Caig and Rob Hisey, in check throughout regulation and OT, but both scored in the shootout against Jon Horrell. Wichita's shooters failed to convert.
"We came out on the wrong end, but honestly I thought the only time they controlled the play was when they had the power play," said Thunder assistant captain Glenn Detulleo, who had two assists. "When it was 5 on 5, I thought we dominated play, especially down low. If we had buried a couple of our chances, it would have been a different game."
Notes — Horrell played well in his first start this season. Back in town because Tim Boron is on injured reserve, Horrell made 35 saves.... Chris McAllister, the Thunder's 6-7 veteran, was a menacing presence all evening.... There was gamesmanship early as McAllister and Chris Kovalcik tried hard to get Tulsa's Rick Kozak to fight. Kozak declined. Kovalcik picked up a holding the stick penalty on his effort, prompting Kozak to toss his head back in laughter.... Rookie Brandon Kaleniecki, on his second whack at the puck, scored shorthanded to tie the game at 1 in the second.... Tulsa first-year coach Bruce Ramsay played 60 games for the Thunder in 2000-01. He had 35 points and 364 penalty minutes.
Tulsa 1 0 2 0 1 — 4 Wichita 0 1 2 0 0 — 3
First period —1. Tulsa, Eastman 2 (Riedel, Hisey) 9:42. Penalties— Wichita, Kovalcik (holding the stick) :05; Wichita, McAllister (cross checking) 17:37.
Second period—2. Wichita, Kaleniecki 2 (Batovanja) 9:21 sh. Penalties— Wichita, McAllister (cross checking, roughing) 6:42; Tulsa, Riddle (unsportsmanlike conduct) 12:21; Tulsa, Hisey (roughing) 16:30; Wichita, Batovanja (roughing) 16:30; Wichita, Little (cross checking) 16:48.
Third period—3. Tulsa, Butler 2 (unassisted) 12:28; 4. Wichita, Adamek 1 (Detulleo, Deleurme) 17:59 pp; 5. Wichita, Adamek 2 (Detulleo) 18:13; 6. Tulsa, Beausolei 4 (unassisted) 18:30. Penalties— Tulsa, Steward (fighting) 3:35; Wichita, Batovanja (fighting) 3:35; Tulsa, Eastman (tripping) 3:58; Wichita, Adamek (interference) 4:40; Wichita, McAllister (roughing) 8:23; Tulsa, Kozak (boarding) 9:24; Wichita, Woll (slashing) 9:24; Wichita, Batovanja (charging) 12:01; Tulsa, Merlini (slashing) 16:18; Tulsa, Eastman (tripping) 17:43; Tulsa, Merlini (tripping) 1:55.
Overtime—none. Penalties— Tulsa, Merlini (tripping) 1:55.
Shootout—Tulsa, Riedel miss; Hisey make; Beausoleil miss; Caig make. Wichita, Belanger miss; Ottmann miss; Detulleo miss; Deleurme miss.
Shots on goal—Tulsa 17-11-5-5-1—39, Wichita 7-7-5-7-0—26. Power play— Tulsa 1-8, Wichita 2-5.
Goaltenders—Tulsa, Magers 23 saves on 26 shots. Wichita, Horrell 35 saves on 38 shots.