WICHITA, KS – While sitting in his office after Saturday night’s loss to the Tulsa Oilers, Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron exuded a not-so-quiet confidence in where his team was, despite the defeat.
“My very first game in the ’07-08 season, when we set the record with only nine losses all year, we lost our first game in Augusta, GA,” Cameron said. “Then we lost eight in the next 71, and we lost six in the next 69.”
Followed by, “Don’t get hung up on a win or a loss.”
His team took the advice.
Cameron and his Thunder earned their first win of the season, beating Missouri 4-1 Friday night. It was a win that was sorely needed for the franchise, which had not won in almost seven months dating back to last season.
“We made some huge strides, but by no means are we a finished product,” said Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron. “I still think we gave up too much off the rush and were lackadaisical in the d-zone at times.”
Wichita started off slow, with an inability to get the puck across the red line and beat the Mavericks forecheck with any regularity. Missouri’s pressure paid off when Darren Nowick capitalized on a juicy Scott Greenham rebound to give Missouri a 1-0 lead. It was their first lead of the season, after being shellacked last weekend in Allen.
“I think (the start) was more nervousness. Because we know the ceiling is high for this team” Cameron said. “But once they scored that one, I liked our resolve.”
“That first goal comes back on me, not chipping it up the wall,” said team Captain Ian Lowe. “We go over this stuff in practice, I just had to put it back to the weak side and we take care of the puck.”
From there, the Thunder stepped up their physicality and speed, which seems to be the developing identity for this Thunder team. A hit from Matt DeBlouw on Tyler Elbrecht in the Mavericks end of the ice led to Lowe dropping the mitts with Elbrecht and firing the team up for the rest of the night.
“I felt that if I go in there and confront him, it would give Matty a little more room and help things out,” Lowe said of the fight.
The Thunder fed off the Lowe fight and held the Mavericks shot less for more than seven minutes while generating plenty of offensive chances. The hard work paid off when Chris Rumble fired a shot from the blueline that beat Eamon McAdam blocker side to even the game at 1.
Vincent Arseneau scored the first of Wichita’s two shorthanded markers of the evening, beating McAdam blocker side just 34 seconds into the period to give Wichita a 2-1 lead. The Thunder would add to the lead just 2:15 later when Jack Rodewald beat McAdam on a 2-on-1 breakaway to give Wichita a 3-1 lead. DeBlouw capped off the scoring, by netting his first professional goal at the 3:10 of the final stanza to give Wichita the 4-1 decision.
While Greenham gave up four goals against the Oilers, he looked much better in his second start in net.
“I think it was important for Scott to play back-to-back games as a veteran to get going,” Cameron said. He also said Drew Owsley will get at least one start during the upcoming road trip.
While it is far from the “finished product” Cameron wants, it is obvious this is a tight-knit club. After the game, you could hear the team applauding loudly and “Oh, What a Night” coming from the dressing room. This is a young group that rallies around their head coach and their mission.
The Thunder hit the road for four games, starting with the South Carolina Stingrays on Tuesday night. The team will return home to face the Utah Grizzlies on November 4.