PARK CITY — A recent addition to the roster, Steve Makway hasn't been forced to endure much of the misery that has already spoiled the Wichita Thunder's hockey season.
After playing just three games, however, the big defenseman can certainly see the effects of the losing streak that reached 19 games after a 4-1 setback to Tulsa on Friday in the Kansas Coliseum.
"All the confidence is gone," Makway said. "Everyone's so down on themselves. You can see it in the guys' demeanor. Somehow we've got to figure out a way to get our swagger back and win a couple games."
With a challenging schedule coming up, the Thunder (3-26-3) continues to inch perilously close to the Central Hockey League record of 21 straight losses set by Memphis in 1999-2000.
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Like Makway, interim coach Jason Duda talked about the emotional strain on his last-place team.
"When you've lost as many as we've lost, the mental drain is the toughest thing to overcome," he said.
Simply put, there is never anything new to report from Thunder games. The team falls behind early, misses its few opportunities to score, looks bad on the power play, and loses another game.
Such was the case on Friday, when Tulsa scored twice in the first period — the last coming when Aaron Davis fed a nice pass to Derek Eastman, who was stationed just to the right of the goal.
Eastman converted, giving Tulsa (17-14-1) and goalie Trevor Cann (4-1) all the offense it would need against the Thunder's punchless offense.
The Thunder entered the game averaging a league-low 1.84 goals — a painfully low number that dropped to 1.81.
And the power play went 0 for 4.
Makway theorized that the Thunder needs to battle harder to get loose pucks and rebounds in front of the net. One of the most-talented offensive players in team history, Duda is mystified by his team's inability to score.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "I wish I had the answer. If I did, I'd fix it."
Makway scored the Thunder's lone goal, giving the 6-foot-5 defenseman two points in three games with the team.
After 18 seasons of calling the Coliseum home, the Thunder will play its last game in the Brown Barn tonight, and there is little reason to believe it will be a fond farewell.
The opponent, Odessa, has the CHL's top record (25-6-3), best special teams and 10 road wins.
"They're a very good hockey team, very offensive," Duda said. "The best thing we can do is take the body, because if they get wheeling through the neutral zone it's gonna be a long night."
Notes — Someone dressed in a chicken costume attended the game, carrying a flag that read "0-19" while moving from seat to seat.... The Thunder has converted on one of its last 51 power-play chances.... The all-Kansas Coliseum team, as selected by the Thunder, will be presented before the game. Five of six players are expected to be on hand.... Brad Thompson has been placed on injured reserve with a concussion.
Tulsa2 1 1 — 4 Wichita0 1 0 — 1
Scoring—1. Tulsa, Harrison 1 (Radoslovich, Standish) 9:11; 2. Tulsa, Eastman 5 (Davis, Butler) 16:41 pp. Penalties—Wichita, Brian (hooking) 3:57; Tulsa, Caig (tripping) 13:40; Wichita, McAllister (elbowing) 16:22.
Scoring—3. Tulsa, Gumaer 2 (Bartholomay, Butler) 12:20; 4. Wichita, Makway 5 (Henderson, Hanson) 14:57. Penalties— Tulsa, Caig (hooking) 2:52; Wichita, Kaleniecki (holding) 6:46; Tulsa, bench (too many men on the ice) 9:49.
Scoring—5. Tulsa, Riddle 5 (Davis) 19:29 en. Penalties— Wichita, Henderson (interference) 5:09; Wichita, McAllister (boarding) 7:27; Tulsa, Gumaer (hooking) 16:33.
Power play—Tulsa 1-5, Wichita 0-4.
Shots on goal—Tulsa 12-11-9-32, Wichita 11-9-8-28.
Goaltenders—Tulsa, Cann 27 saves on 28 shots. Wichita, Keserich 28 saves on 31 shots.