Wichita Thunder

Thunder must go without

Now that that the Wichita Thunder-Fort Wayne controversy, sparked by some seriously bad blood between goalies Marty Magers and Nick Boucher, has been dissected from every possible angle by coaches, players, fans, the Central Hockey League and message board posters, there's little else to say about the controversy.

The ramifications become the focus tonight.

Under the best of circumstances, the coming weekend would represent a brutal stretch for Wichita.

The Thunder plays host to Rio Grande tonight and Bloomington on Saturday night before leaving immediately after that game for a 3 p.m. game on Sunday at Mississippi.

The Thunder will face the challenge shorthanded as it deals with the fallout from the Fort Worth melee, which resulted in a three-game suspension for Magers and two-game suspensions for tough guys Jason Goulet and Robin Richards.

"It's gonna be difficult," coach Kevin McClelland said. "A lot of other teams have had to deal with situations like this, too. We just have to play through it."

Team captain Daniel Tetrault and leading goal scorer Matt Robinson said the Thunder must play intelligent hockey.

"Obviously, we know we're all going to log a lot of minutes," said Robinson, who has 27 goals and 47 points in 34 games in Wichita. "It has to be about smart hockey. We have to stay out of the box as much as we can and not get caught out there on long shifts."

Said Tetrault, "Everyone knows we're shorthanded, so they're gonna be gunning for us. There's not easy team out there. We've got to play hard and try and get the Ws, especially after the last two losses we had."

Notes — Rio Grande Valley may be one of the CHL's worst teams, but it boasts one of the CHL's top rookies in Aaron Lewicki. He leads rookies in goals with 14 and points with 35. The Killer Bees' penalty kill is third in the league at 84.8.... The Thunder will show a new pregame video tonight.... The Thunder has signed goalie Kevin Beech to a five-game contract. Beech was 8-4-2 with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .891 saves percentage with Texas this season. He was the CHL's most outstanding goalie in 2009. "It was a real nice pickup," Tetrault said. "He's a proven goaltender in this league."