Nerves typically don't find Adam Russo when he is in goal for the Thunder. But Russo admits he was nervous before Tuesday night's hockey game against Missouri. Not because he felt the pressure of ending a two-game slide, but because his parents were among the 6,114 in attendance at Intrust Bank Arena.
His mother, from Toronto, and his father, from Montreal, flew in Monday night to see Russo play for the first time in Wichita. Russo delivered his sixth career shutout and the Thunder gave an entertaining performance in a 5-0 victory over their rivals from Independence, Mo.
The victory moved Wichita, which picked up its 18th win, in a tie for first place in the Berry Conference with Allen at 37 points.
"I just wanted to put on a good show for my parents," Russo said. "The shutout was a team win. It means our defense was perfect in the back end. It was really nice to see our guys just unload."
The Thunder released some steam from a sour two-game road trip that resulted in losses to Quad City in overtime, and Tulsa after leading by two goals.
A scoreless first period was the only thing Missouri could consider a positive. For the final 40 minutes, Wichita was dominant. It was the first time the Mavericks had been shut out since Wichita did it in a 4-0 victory on Jan. 22 from last season.
"We played a solid game from the goaltender out tonight," Thunder coach Kevin McClelland said. "That's what we needed. We needed some consistency. I thought we played well the last two games, we just didn't get the result. We finally did (Tuesday)."
Matt Robinson broke the scoreless tie nine minutes into the second period on a second-effort swipe after Brett Hemingway slid a pass between a defender and the goalie.
Four minutes later the Thunder made it 2-0 on a back-handed flick from Aaron Davis that Brett Hemingway ricocheted in with his stick in the air. Hemingway joined Davis, Robinson, Alex Bourret and Thomas Beauregard as the fifth Thunder player with at least 10 goals on the season.
"We wanted to come back strong after losing to Tulsa," Daniel Tetrault said. "The guys just came out and battled. We saw our guys completely take control of the game."
The third goal came from Bourret, who stole the puck in the neutral zone, took five strides toward the goal and placed a wrist shot behind Missouri goalie Charlie Effinger.
It seemed everything fell in favor of Wichita after that, as Matt Summers scored and Chris Chappell added his first goal of the season.
But the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night came well after the game had been decided.
McClelland took exception to a hip check from Mike Wakita on Chappell with less than a minute left in the game. McClelland was outraged enough to bang on the glass separating the two benches.
On the next faceoff, McClelland set his enforcer, Erick Lizon, on Missouri's Dave Simoes. After spending nearly two minutes trying to remove gear in preparation for the fight, Lizon quickly ended it on his first punch — a right hook that planted Simoes on the ground.
"In a fight, to be honest, I don't want to hurt a guy ever," Lizon said. "But the thing is, you got to think he's going to want to hurt you, so you got to want to hurt him back."
When Lizon skated off, he sent the crowd into a frenzy when he circled the rink clutching the Thunder logo on his jersey.
"That's old-time hockey and that's what Wichita fans are used to," Tetrault said. "We needed a night like this."
Missouri 0 0 0 — 0 Wichita 0 2 3 — 5
Scoring—None. Penalties— Missouri, Ruel (slashing) 4:20; Missouri, Kaunisto (hooking) 7:53; Missouri, Mahovsky (hooking) 13:46.
Scoring—1. Wichita, Robinson 12 (B. Hemingway, Davis) 9:12; 2. B. Hemingway 10 (Davis, Wight) 13:34. Penalties— Wichita, Donaghy (slashing) 10:01; Wichita, Sawyer (cross checking) 15:23; Wichita, Sawyer (fighting major) 15:23; Missouri, Simoes (fighting major) 15:23; Missouri, Simoes (fighting misconduct) 15:23; Wichita, Beauregard (too many men bench minor) 15:23.
Scoring—3. Bourret 13 (Beauregard) 7:41; 4. Summers 7 (Flath, Bourret) 10:59; 5. Chappell 1 (Summers, Martens) 16:14. Penalties— Wichita, Donaghy (tripping) 7:50; Wichita, Donaghy (fighting major) 18:31; Missouri, Good (fighting major) 18:31; Wichita, Lizon (fighting major) 19:25; Missouri, Simoes (fighting major) 19:25; Wichita, Sawyer (fighting major) 19:26; Missouri, Lewis (fighting major) 19:26.
Power play—Missouri 0-3, Wichita 0-3.
Shots on goal—Missouri 5-11-4—20, Wichita 7-14-10—31.
Goaltenders—Missouri, Effinger 26 saves on 31 shots. Wichita, Russo 20 saves on 20 shots.