The Wichita Thunder and Rapid City Rush, who will face off tonight in Intrust Bank Arena, are similar in most categories.
Rapid City (8-6-3) leads the Thunder (7-7-2) by three points.
The Thunder is scoring 3.25 goals per game, while the Rush is right behind at 3.18. The Thunder is allowing 3.31 and, again, Rapid City is close at 3.71.
An obvious difference, and an area to watch tonight, is the Rush's power-play prowess. Rapid City is third in the Central Hockey League at 21.8 percent with the man advantage. That unit will likely test the Thunder's penalty kill, 15th in the CHL at 77.6 (the same as Rapid City).
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However, Thunder coach Kevin McClelland has confidence in his PK, saying it has performed well overall — with the exception of Friday night when Colorado scored five power play goals.
"The PK was doing good until we got shelled up in Colorado," he said.
Rapid City, the defending CHL champ, is winless in its last three games — a streak that matters little to McClelland.
"They're a great team," he said. "They're well coached, well prepared. We've got to be physical but we have to be disciplined. We can't be in the box all night."
* Montreal Canadians goalie coach Pierre Groulx arrived in Wichita on Sunday to work with Peter Delmas, who was assigned to the Thunder by the NHL team. McClelland was pleased that Groulx also made time for the Thunder's other goalies, Marc-Antoine Gelinas and Marty Magers. "It was nice to see him working with all three goaltenders," McClelland said. "That's a quality person right there."
* In his first two games back after sitting out for seven with an injury, captain Daniel Tetrault was plus-2 with an assist. "He looked real good, but he looks good just sitting in the dressing room because of his character," McClelland said. "He's a good guy to have in the room, and he takes that leadership out on the ice on plays well."
* There was plenty of offensive talent behind the benches during the Thunder's game against Colorado on Saturday: Thunder assistant coach Jason Duda and his Colorado counterpart, Greg Pankewicz, combined for 546 goals during their distinguished careers.
* Tonight's your chance to check out the Thunder for free. Vouchers for free admission for upper-level seating to tonight's game are available at Freddy's Frozen Cusard & Steakburger locations in Wichita, Derby and El Dorado.
Officials blew it on the 15-round shootout involving the Thunder and Mississippi last Wednesday. After the 10th shooter, teams were to return to the first shooter and continue in the same order as used previously. Instead, both teams used a different order. The league's response, via director of operations Bob Hoffman: "There are many different rules on the shoot-out that span through many different leagues. What happened in Wednesday's game was something that was missed from many areas and we are reviewing the process and will put in new protocol for tracking this, if warranted after our review."
TAP OF THE STICK
Putting the Kiss Cam on a couple players from the opposing team just never gets old.
Gelina's goals-against average — third best in the CHL
HE SAID IT
"I've been proud of this team since Day 1. We've fought through a lot of adversity. We started out 0-4 but the guys didn't quit."