Matt Summers, who leads the Wichita Thunder with eight points, is out indefinitely with an injured shoulder.
Summers, a centerman in his first year in Wichita, sustained the injury in the Thunder's victory at the Missouri Mavericks on Saturday. Summers received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head — a call that was later rescinded by the league — and hurt his shoulder in the ensuing scrum.
Summers had scored in five of six games for the Thunder (5-1) and leads the team with five assists. His injury, plus the fact that Tim Kraus is on injured reserve, leaves the team thin at the center position. Aaron Davis and Chris Greene are the healthy centers.
"We'll have guys playing out of position," coach Kevin McClelland said. "We'll see what they can do."
* The injury to Summers comes at a difficult time for the Thunder, which plays host to Rapid City (4-1-1) tonight to begin a stretch of four games in five nights. McClelland, known for quick but intense practices, may adjust his routine. "You have to know when to take your foot off the gas pedal a little bit," he said. "If you give the guys some time off and they use it, it can really help."
* Wichita's opponent on Friday, Quad City, is 3-1 on the road. (Anyone think Adam Russo, the Thunder's emotional goalie, might be just a little fired up to play his former team?) And rival Missouri (6-0-1), whom the Thunder plays on Saturday, has gotten stronger with Ed McGrane coming off IR and because of the addition of defenseman J.P. Testwuide. Testwuide was assigned by the Chicago Wolves of the higher-level AHL.
* Tulsa has the CHL's top three rookie scorers: Dylan Clarke, Mike Ullrich and Ryan Cramer.
Defenseman Kevin Seibel has signed with the Thunder, potentially a big boost for the team. Last season in 34 games with Odessa, he had 18 points and was plus-3 in 34 games. "He's a good defenseman," McClelland said. "He's the kind of guy we've been looking for."
Wichita is getting outscored in the first (8-4) and the second (5-3) periods. But the Thunder holds a league-best 11-3 third-period advantage.
TAP OF THE STICK
Russo, who is 3-1 with a 2.36 goals-against, has gotten much of the attention. But Ryan MacDonald has been solid as well, picking up road wins at Missouri and Tulsa. "There wasn't any question what he'd bring to the hockey club," McClelland said. "We just keep marching along with two goalies."
Two Thunder players, Alex Bourret and Matt Summers, have received match penalties for illegal checks to the head. (Remember, the penalty can only be a minor or match penalty.) Both times, the match penalties have been rescinded by the league. Of the Summers hit, McClelland said, "There definitely was a hit to head on the first one. On the second one (by Summers), I could see from the bench it wasn't. It was the ref that called it. It wasn't the linesman. It's a fast game. There's three of them out there. One of them should be able to get it right."
The plus-minus rating of defensive pair Andrew Martens and Jarred Mohr
HE SAID IT
"You're never gonna have the perfect schedule, but there's got to be a lot more thought process."
—McClelland, annoyed that his team will play four games in five nights this week, with the last two on the road.