As was expected, the Wichita Thunder has been able to attract large crowds to games at its new home, Intrust Bank Arena.
But as was undoubtedly feared, the struggling team has sent thousands of fans home disappointed.
Such was the case on Wednesday night, when the rival Tulsa Oilers became the latest opponent to make themselves at home in the new venue, thumping the punchless Thunder 5-1.
A crowd of 9,357, bolstered by a Wichita insurance company's ticket promotion, watched the Thunder give up two power-play goals in 32 seconds in the second period; allow 42 shots; and fall to 1-8 at the arena.
So instead of building on Sunday's upset of Texas, which snapped a league-record 19-game losing streak at home, the Thunder took a step backward.
"It's tough," interim coach Jason Duda said. "It's disappointing. The good news is we play five games in six days, so we can get right back at it."
The Thunder (8-39-4) and Oilers (25-22-5) are two of the Central Hockey League's most-penalized teams, but the first period was played without a whistle.
In the second, though, Tulsa's Dan Riedel and Tyler Butler scored those quick goals on the power play. The goals against Ian Keserich, who shut out Texas 1-0 on Sunday, ended a string of 13 consecutive successful kills by the Thunder's PK unit.
"That gave them a bunch of momentum," Duda said. "What are you gonna do? If he (the referee) calls them, you gotta work with it. We didn't kill them off."
Even so, the Thunder gained a measure of it back when Kevin Cooper's backhander got past Tulsa goalie Marty Magers for a power-play goal to trim the lead to 2-1.
But at 19:09, Jake Riddle scored to increase the margin to two again.
The goal, which Duda described as "huge," seemed to deflate the Thunder.
As has been common, especially at home, Wichita's offense was nearly non-existent, despite some good opportunities.
"We had some chances," Duda said. "They just didn't go in."
Notes — The game was delayed about 20 minutes because Tulsa had bus troubles and arrived late.... It was the last meeting between the teams this season. Tulsa won seven of 10 games.... Keserich's shutout is up for CHL performance of the week. Fans can vote for him at centralhockeyleague.com.... Defenseman Steve Makway and forward Kevin Cooper returned from injuries.
Tulsa 0 3 2 — 5 Wichita 0 1 0 — 1
Scoring—none. Penalties— none.
Scoring—1. Tulsa, Dan Riedel 15 (Tyler Butler, Derek Eastman) 9:31 pp; 2. Tulsa, Tyler Butler 9 (Derek Eastman, Travis Banga) 10:03 pp; 3. Wichita, Kevin Cooper 11 (Joel Hanson, Jason Reese) 16:47 pp; 4. Tulsa, Jake Riddle 12 (Jim Henkemeyer, Troy Riddle) 19:09. Penalties— Wichita, Anders Strome (Tripping), 2 min, 8:18; Wichita, Neil Clark (High Sticking) 9:55; Wichita, Steve Makway (roughing) 11:55j; Tulsa, Travis Banga (Hooking) 16:02; Wichita, Jason Woll (Hooking) 17:00.
Scoring—5. Tulsa, Jake Riddle 13 (Troy Riddle) 3:55; 6. Tulsa, Tyler Butler 10 (Jake Riddle, Troy Riddle) 13:03. Penalties— Wichita, Ian Keserich (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) 13:03; Wichita - Steve Makway (Roughing), 16:50; Tulsa, Derek Merlini (Roughing) 16:50; Wichita Taylor Guay (Fighting) 16:50j; Tulsa, Sean Erickson (Fighting) 16:50.
Shots on goal—Tulsa 9-23-10—42; Wichita 11-12-8—31. Power play— 2-5, Wichita 1-1. Goaltenders— Tulsa, Magers 30 saves on 31 shots; Wichita, Keserich 37 saves on 42 shots. Att— 9,357.