PARK CITY — Given the way the Wichita Thunder is playing, it's not at all premature to consider that that the worst is very possible: The Central Hockey League record for futility is looming for the depressed, punchless team.
The Thunder lost yet again on Tuesday night — Rapid City won 4-2, becoming the latest opponent to make itself at home in the Kansas Coliseum — for the team's 16th consecutive setback.
The CHL record is 21, set by Memphis in 1999-2000.
The Thunder (3-23-3) has lost nine in a row at home. That record — 13 by Nashville in 1996-97 — is within reach, too.
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"Guys are frustrated, of course," Thunder forward Brandon Kaleniecki said.
Unlike many losses this season, however, the Thunder wasn't awful, and no one complained about a lack of effort. Wichita laid some big hits — Chris Kovalcik won glassrattler honors — and played solid defensively against Rapid City (19-8-1).
"The guys played pretty good," interim coach Jason Duda said. "The thing is, it's not like we're so terrible. It's just that every time we make a mistake, they score. It happens so consistently that it drives you crazy."
Kaleniecki accounted for the Thunder's goals — the first coming on a nice individual effort when he wrapped around the net and backhanded in a shot, and the second on a shorthanded goal that cut Rapid City's lead to 3-2 late.
Other than Kaleniecki, who has four points in his last three games, the Thunder's offense, last in the CHL at 1.93 goals per game, continues to struggle mightily.
"It seems like we're always playing from behind," Kaleniecki said. "I don't know if that causes guys to press or what. I don't know if we're just struggling or we just don't have the ability to score. You hate to say that, but at what point is it gonna come? You keep waiting for us to find some offense."
The Thunder's power play continued to be remarkably bad. After going 0 for 4 on Tuesday, the unit is 1 for its last 46.
Notes — The Thunder acquired defenseman Steve Makway, forward Kevin Cooper, and goaltender Ian Keserich in a trade with Mississippi on Tuesday. They are expected to play when the Thunder hosts Allen on Thursday. Makway is third among CHL defenseman in scoring with 24 points. The Thunder gave up defenseman Kevin Truelson and goaltender Tim Boron. "It's a good time for some fresh blood in here," Duda said.... As expected, Duda will not play again this season. The veteran forward, out with a bad back, will be placed on season-ending injured reserve today. "I'll probably be the first guy in history to call and put himself on season-ending IR," he said with a grin.
Rapid City1 1 2 — 4 Wichita0 0 2 — 2
Scoring—1. Rapid City, Hansen 5 (Wray, Cook) 10:31; Penalties— Wichita, Kovalcik (tripping) 3:33; Rapid City, Flamminio (cross checking) 14:20; Rapid City, Bartlett (high sticking) 17:55; Wichita, Hanson (hooking) 18:54.
Scoring—2. Rapid City, Jarvis 7 (Bartlett, Flamminio) 7:29. Penalties— Rapid City, Leblanc (instigation, fighting) 10:30; Wichita, Belanger (fighting) 10:30; Rapid City, Flamminio (slashing) 14:37; Wichita, Deleurme (interference) 19:54.
Scoring—3. Wichita, Kaleniecki 4 (Kovalcik, Jorgensen) 11:43; 4. Rapid City, Pelle 8 (unassisted) 14:33; 5. Wichita, Kaleniecki 5 (Woll) 19:35 sh; 6. Rapid City, Pelle 9 (Wray, Flamminio) 19:43 pp en. Penalties— Wichita, McAllister (interference) 3:21; Wichita, Adamek (holding) 18:03; Wichita, McAllister (cross checking) 20:00.
Shots on goal—Rapid City 11-7-8—26, Wichita 9-14-9—32.
Power play—Rapid City 1-5, Wichita 0-4.
Goaltenders—Rapid City, Beaudry 30 saves on 32 shots. Wichita, Campbell 22 saves on 25 shots.