PARK CITY — They still call him "Smokin' Joe," but 34-year-old winger Joe Blaznek is the first to admit he doesn't have the wheels he used to.
"Yeah, I'm probably a step behind," he said with a grin, "but every now and then I get a little spark."
Such was the case on Saturday, when he used his speed and savvy to set up the game-winning goal in Bossier-Shreveport's 3-2 victory over the Wichita Thunder in the Kansas Coliseum.
That a player the Thunder traded away — Blaznek scored 100 points for Wichita in 2005-06 — had the biggest assist of the night was simply the latest indignity for local fans.
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The Thunder dropped its 13th consecutive game, extending the longest losing streak in franchise history. Despite a fine effort from goaltender Jon Horrell, who made 20 saves, the Thunder fell to 3-20-3 and 2-10-2 at home. Bossier-Shreveport, behind a typically strong effort from veteran Ken Carroll, improved to 14-10.
On the game's deciding sequence, Blaznek raced into Wichita's zone down the left boards, got a step on a defenseman and fed a pass to Joe Ori for the deciding goal.
"We had the guys coming back and then we stopped and it turned into a 3 on 1 instead of a 3 on 3," interim coach Jason Duda said. "Blaz is a good player. He's always been a good player."
A day after captain Chris McAllister called the Thunder "the joke of the league" following a 6-2 loss to Bossier, the Thunder played better, even showing some comeback ability. The Thunder has been a poor third-period team, but Glenn Detulleo's goal tied the game 2-2 in the final period.
"They came at us, they threw the body," Blaznek said. "They played a lot more intense than last night and they caught us off guard. We were caught flat footed. But we squeaked it out."
Duda, though, was anything but pleased.
"It wasn't good enough," he said. "As much as we need things to be OK, as much as we want everyone to be on board, you gotta win. You gotta win."
The Thunder's offense, the worst in the Central Hockey League, continues to struggle. According to the official stats, the Thunder had just 15 shots, a season low. No player had more than two. Duda disputed those totals.
"I'd like to know who's doing the shots because over the last four years it's been a joke," he said. "They're not accurate — we've gone over it on film. I'd beg to differ we only had 15 shots."
Notes — Defenseman Chris Kovalcik is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle.... Jay Henderson had points in both games.
Shreveport 0 2 1 — 3 Thunder 1 0 1 — 2
Scoring—1. Wichita, Ottman 2 (Henderson, Truelson) 8:37. Penalties— Shreveport, Aikins (hooking) 2:53; Shreveport, Kryzakos (tripping) 5:09; Wichita, Thompson (tripping) 6:36; Wichita, McAllister (highsticking) 11:28; Shreveport, Mangos (interference) 16:28.
Scoring—2. Shreveport, Pszenyczny 4 (Lucas, Mangos) 16:54 pp; 3. Shreveport, Johnson 2 (Ori) 17:36; Penalties— Wichita, Adamek (hooking) 2:53; Shreveport, Rutherford (interference) 3:04; Shreveport, Aikins (tripping) 8:01.
Scoring—4. Wichita, Detulleo 4 (Belanger, Jorgensen) 6:09; 5. Shreveport, Ori 2 (Blaznek) 10:18. Penalties— Wichita, Woll (crosschecking) 1:42; Wichita, Henderson (cross checking) 18:43.
Shots on goal—Bossier 11-6-6-23, Wichita 4-5-6-15.
Power play—Bossier 1-6, Wichita 0-5.
Goaltenders—Bossier, Carroll 13 saves on 15 shots. Wichita, Horrell 20 saves on 23 shots.