Wichita Thunder

Strong finishes prompt Thunder's fast start

Kevin McClelland thought the Pittsburgh Penguins' two-hour practices did a good job of keeping him in shape in 1984.

Then he was traded to Edmonton and experienced the Oilers' 55-minute workouts.

"I couldn't keep up the first two weeks," he said.

Now the Thunder's coach, McClelland has made the most of hour-long practices, and the results show in the third periods of a 4-0 start.

Heading into a home-and-home weekend showdown with unbeaten Missouri, starting tonight at Intrust Bank Arena, the Thunder has outscored opponents 8-0 in the final period, It twice rallied from three goals down to send games to overtime.

Three shootout victories make the headlines, but third-period rallies and a 60-28 shot advantage in the period make a coach happier.

"I think a lot of it is conditioning," McClelland said. "Your practices have a big influence on your games. We're not out there that long, but it's high intensity."

A high-intensity weekend awaits, too. Missouri has been just as hot as the Thunder, going on the road for its first five games and being almost as dominant in the third period. Missouri has a 7-3 goals edge in the period, with two coming in a game in which the Mavericks already had a three-goal lead.

Mavericks Dale Mahovsky, John-Scott Dickson and Sebastien Thinel are three of the four Central Hockey League scoring leaders with eight points each. Wichita's Matt Summers, named league player of the month for October, is a point back.

"You go on the road for five straight games and come back with an unblemished record, you're doing something right," McClelland said. "They've got three lines that can put the puck in the net and a defense that moves around real well."

Notes — Missouri goaltender Charlie Effinger has a 1.50 goals-against average. Teammate Gerry Festa has allowed one goal in 65 minutes.... The Thunder will hold its Adopt-a-Player auction after the game.