Theo Peckham crashed into and shattered a glass pane around the ice at Intrust Bank Arena on Friday night, but that’s not the only reason his head hurts.
Peckham, who received five stitches in the incident that also injured two fans, is Wichita’s captain, and he’s representing the frustration the team is suffering following Quad City’s 3-1 win on Friday, the Thunder’s fourth loss in five games.
The defeat continued a regression for the Thunder in the most important elements of the game — Wichita (9-10-1-3) has failed to score more than one goal three times in the last five games and has surrendered more shots in those games, too.
Friday, the Thunder outshot Quad City 31-26 but rarely had worthwhile opportunities outside of three second-period power plays, one of which resulted in a Peckham goal.
“We’re fooling it,” Peckham said. “They’re shots from the outside. I don’t want anybody to be fooled and think we’re outplaying teams, because we’re not. We’re getting 32 shots a night, but we’re not getting any penetration. We’re not going to the hard areas of the ice and we’re not doing the little things right now to win.”
Peckham was forced into the glass by a Quad City player as his momentum took him in that direction while he tried to clear the puck. The glass immediately shattered and fell upon the faces of Peckham and two fans seated in the first row.
The fans received medical attention from EMS personnel and other patrons in their seats – one was taken away by stretcher and one by wheelchair, but according to Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno, neither was transported to the hospital after receiving cuts to their faces and hands.
“The lady sitting in the front row, I felt terrible, she was cut worse than I was,” Peckham said. ‘I think the trainer came to help me, but I told him to help her. She paid to be here to watch a hockey game, and it’s unfortunate that something like that happened.”
Peckham eventually returned but may have wished he hadn’t. A defenseman who owns 160 games of NHL experience, Peckham hasn’t been able to steer Wichita’s goal prevention out of its recent funk.
The Thunder has allowed 20 goals in its last five games and at least 28 shots in five of the last eight after giving up that many four times in the first 16 games. Quad City more than doubled the 12 shots it took in Wichita in a Thunder shutout on Nov. 26.
The Mallards scored a pair of 2-on-1 goals Friday, creating plenty of space after Wichita’s defense failed to keep up.
“We’re not doing little things right,” Peckham said. “We’re not getting pucks out, we’re stopping and starting, we think we’re better than we are. We’re not going to go out and out-skill teams, we don’t have that kind of team. We have to work hard to win games, and right now that’s lacking.”
Peckham scored his second goal of the season and was aggressive offensively, playing outside of his role. The Thunder’s scoring depth is lacking and center RG Flath is playing on the wing because Wichita has no other options.
Flath and fellow forwards Nikita Kashirsky and Danick Gauthier were on the ice for all three Quad City goals and didn’t tally a point themselves.
“We’re not scoring goals right now,” McClelland said. “I can’t find three guys that can play together. Our top line – what’s supposed to be our top line – winds up at minus-3 at the end of the night, and that’s not going to win you a lot of games.”
Scoring—1. Quad City, Lamoureux (Duffy, Baker), 4:18. Penalties—Wichita, Milan (holding), 9:09; Wichita, Flath (cross checking), 19:03.
Scoring—2. Wichita, Peckham PP (Lowe, Duval), 7:09; 3. Quad City, Dieude-Fauvel (Fiddler, Lamoureux), 18:00. Penalties—Quad City, Nelson (tripping), 1:47; Quad City, Fox (high sticking), 4:45; Quad City, Duffy (hooking), 6:55; Wichita, Kashirsky (roughing), 18:33.
Scoring—4. Quad City, Perry (Fox, Lamoureux), 16:34. Penalties—Quad City, Lee (delay of game), 7:06; Wichita, Duval (cross checking), 9:32; Wichita, Bunz (tripping), 13:22.
Power play— Quad City 0-5, Wichita 1-4. Shots—Quad City 11-10-5—26, Wichita 5-13-14—31. Saves—Quad City, Milner 31-32; Wichita, Bunz 23-26.
Rapid City at Thunder
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena
Records: Rapid City 7-12-0-2, Thunder 9-10-1-3