Wichita Thunder

The Wichita Thunder are a minor league hockey team based in Wichita, Kansas. The team played in the Central Hockey League from 1992 until 2014, and then in the ECHL since the 2014–15 season. From 1992 until December 2009 the Thunder played in the Britt Brown Arena located in the northern Wichita suburb of Park City. In January 2010 (the second half of the 2009–10 season), the team began playing its home games at the newly built Intrust Bank Arena.

Wichita Thunder
2019–20 ECHL season
CityWichita, Kansas
LeagueECHL
ConferenceWestern
DivisionMountain
Founded1992 (in the CHL)
Home arenaIntrust Bank Arena
Owner(s)Rodney Steven
Brandon Steven
Johnny Steven
General managerJoel Lomurno
Head coachBruce Ramsay
MediaThe Wichita Eagle
KAKE-TV
KWCH
AffiliatesEdmonton Oilers (NHL)
Bakersfield Condors (AHL)
Franchise history
1992–presentWichita Thunder
Championships
Regular season titles3 (1993–94, 1994–95, 2011–12)
Conference Championships1 (1997–98, 2011–12)
Ray Miron President's Cup2 (1993–94, 1994–95)

Franchise history

Central Hockey League

The Thunder were one of the first six original teams of the second iteration of the Central Hockey League, along with the Oklahoma City Blazers, Tulsa Oilers, Memphis RiverKings, Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire. Wichita played their first home game at Britt Brown Arena on November 4, 1992, in front of a crowd of 5,486. In the same season, the Thunder had their first sellout in team history, the crowd of 9,686 fans watched the Thunder defeat Oklahoma City 4-3.

The Thunder were originally coached by Gary Fay, but after a 6-20 start, he was replaced by Doug Shedden. Although they started out with a 6-20 record, the season was quickly turned around by Shedden, and they finished their first season with a 25-32-2 record. On April 5, 1993, Thunder goaltender Robert Desjardins was named the first CHL Rookie of the Year. In the following two seasons, the Thunder were the regular season champions (Adams Cup) and playoff champions (William Levins Memorial Cup). Ron Handy was the Playoff Most Valuable Player for both seasons, he was the only player in Central Hockey League history to win the award on multiple occasions. In the 1993–94 season Doug Shedden won the Coach of the Year award, Robert Desjardins won the Regular Season Most Valuable Player award and Paul Jackson won the Scoring Champion award.

On May 14, 1995, head coach Doug Shedden resigned to become coach of the Louisiana IceGators of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Don Jackson was hired as the new head coach on July 21, 1995. He led the Thunder to a 22-39-3 record and missed the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. On July 19, 1996, Don Jackson resigned to become head coach of the Kansas City Blades of the International Hockey League (IHL). Jackson would be replaced by Bryan Wells to become the Thunder's fourth head coach in franchise history. Wells would go on to coach the Thunder for five seasons; they made the playoffs four out of the five seasons he coached. On May 2, 2001, Wells was dismissed as head coach.

After the dismissal of coach Wells, the Thunder announced that James Latos would be the new head coach. In Latos' first season coaching, the team went 24-34-6 and were out of the playoffs. Latos was fired the following season after a disappointing start of just 8-19-7. Just five days after coach Latos' dismissal, the Thunder announced that Derek Laxdal would become the team's new head coach. Laxdal went on to coach the Thunder for two seasons to an 87-58-8 record while clinching two separate playoff berths. On August 3, 2005, Laxdal announced his resignation to become the head coach of the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.

Mark French took over as head coach from 2005 to 2007. During his tenure, he compiled a record of 70-59-16. He was fired mid-season in December 2007 with a 4–13 record. He would go on to become the assistant coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears and then the following season take them to a championship as their head coach. The Thunder then named former player Rob Weingartner to lead the team. Weingartner played for the Thunder from 1992 to 1996 where he was a member of two championship teams. Weingartner compiled a record of 16-29-2 during his tenure. He has since gone on to be the head coach of the Western States Hockey League's Wichita Jr. Thunder.

Brent Bilodeau was hired during the 2008 off-season and lead the team for two seasons and a record of 22-48-0. He was let go early in his second season but would go on to be the assistant coach of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans for two seasons. After the Thunder fired Brent Bilodeau nine games into the 2009–10 season, Jason Duda was given the job on an interim basis while on injured reserve. Duda owns several franchise records from his Thunder career, scoring 870 points in 14 seasons. He would finish the season with a 7-43-5 record and go on to be an assistant coach under the next head coach, Kevin McClelland.

ECHL

On October 7, 2014, soon before the 2014–15 CHL season was set to begin, it was announced that the Central Hockey League ceased operations and the Thunder, along with the Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Quad City Mallards, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush and Tulsa Oilers, were all approved for membership into the ECHL for the 2014–15 season.[1][2] The team finished 5th out of 7 teams in the Central Division, scoring 73 points out of 144.

On April 16, 2016, the Thunder announced that the team would not renew head coach Kevin McClelland's contract for the 2016–17 season. He had been with the Thunder since 2010 and guided the team for six seasons becoming the longest tenured coach in Thunder history, leading the team for 408 games. During his time in Wichita, McClelland compiled a record of 194-166-48, clinching a playoff spot in his first season and taking the team to the playoff finals the following two seasons while still in the CHL. However, he failed to lead the team into the ECHL playoffs in his two seasons leading the team in the ECHL and the finished last in the overall standings in the 2015–16 season.

Malcolm Cameron was announced as the new head coach on May 20, 2016.[3] One of his stated intentions in his opening press conference was to establish the Thunder's first NHL affiliation for the upcoming season. On July 4, 2016, the Ottawa Senators assistant general manager, Randy Lee, stated that his team was in negotiations for an affiliation with the Thunder for the 2016–17 season.[4] The affiliation with the Senators and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, was finally confirmed on July 14.[5] After one season, the Thunder changed affiliations to the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and Bakersfield Condors (AHL). After three seasons, and one playoff appearance, Cameron left the team.[6]

On May 15, 2019, the Thunder announced former Tulsa Oilers head coach Bruce Ramsay as Cameron's replacement.[7]

Season-by-season records

Regular season Playoffs
SeasonGPWLTOTLSOLPtsGFGAPIMStandingYear1st round2nd round3rd roundFinals
1992–93602533025224232018766th of 6, CHL1993Did not qualify
1993–9464401868630927525221st of 6, CHL1994W, 4–3, DALW, 4–0, TUL
1994–9566441849232026825131st of 7, CHL1995W, 4–1, OKCW, 4–2, SA
1995–9664223934727038023046th of 6, CHL1996Did not qualify
1996–97662531106027932426604th of 5, Western Div.1997OKCL, 1–4, FTW
1997–9870353147430230323212nd of 5, Western Div.1998W, 3–2, TULW, 4–3, OKCL, 0–4, COL
1998–99703426107825726221583rd of 6, Western Div.1999L, 1–3, SA
1999–0070372678124523120492nd of 6, Western Div.2000L, 2–3, OKC
2000–0170303286825125124185th of 6, Western Div.2001Did not qualify
2001–0264243465420326219133rd of 4, Northwest Div.2002Did not qualify
2002–03642136524921626118374th of 4, Northwest Div.2003Did not qualify
2003–04643524147519419715582nd of 5, Northwest Div.2004W, 3–1, COLL, 1–4, BS
2004–05604017218321015817842nd of 4, Northwest Div.2005W, 4–3, BSL, 2–4, COL
2005–06643818448423320018412nd of 4, Northwest Div.2006L, 1–4, BS
2006–07642828086419121318413rd of 4, Northwest Div.2007L, 2–4, BS
2007–08642042114215624719055th of 5, Northwest Div.2008Did not qualify
2008–09642041214316823014194th of 4, Northwest Div.2009Did not qualify
2009–1064950142312825713547th of 7, Northern Conf.2010Did not qualify
2010–11663426247424923111895th of 9, Turner Conf.2011L, 2–3, MO
2011–12664419129123118110771st of 7, Berry Conf.2012W, 4–1, RGVW, 4–2, TEXL, 1–4, FW
2012–13663919268624018211062nd of 10, CHL2013W, 4–0, ARZW, 4–0, FTWL, 3–4, ALN
2013–1466273045632012239739th of 10, CHL2014Did not qualify
2014–15723231277321324015085th of 6, Central Div.2015Did not qualify
2015–16721841764915024011524th of 4, Central Div.2016Did not qualify
2016–17722144614918927812917th of 7, Central Div.2017Did not qualify
2017–18723430627622223510914th of 7, Mountain Div.2018L, 2–4, COL
2018–19722931937022425112865th of 7, Mountain Div.2019Did not qualify

Players

Current roster

Updated December 9, 2019.[8]
# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
2 Sean Allen D L 21 2019 Puslinch, Ontario Thunder
49 Lane Bauer F L 23 2017 Anchorage, Alaska Thunder
7 Chris Crane (A) F R 28 2019 West Chester Township, Ohio Thunder
72 Peter Crinella F L 23 2019 East Longmeadow, Massachusetts Thunder
21 Brendan De Jong D L 21 2019 Victoria, British Columbia Thunder
25 Vincent Desharnais D R 23 2019 Laval, Quebec Condors
51 Spencer Dorowicz F L 26 2019 Olds, Alberta Thunder
24 Billy Exell F R 24 2019 Thunder Bay, Ontario Thunder
17 Stefan Fournier F R 27 2018 Dorval, Quebec Thunder
37 Mitch Gillam G L 27 2019 Peterborough, Ontario Thunder
4 Jacob Graves D R 24 2019 Barrie, Ontario Thunder
61 Cameron Hebig F R 22 2018 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Oilers
20 Patrik Parkkonen (A) D L 26 2019 Porvoo, Finland Thunder
43 Fabrizio Ricci F L 24 2019 Toronto, Ontario Thunder
18 Ostap Safin F L 20 2019 Prague, Czech Republic Oilers
16 Jason Salvaggio F L 25 2019 Hanson, Massachusetts Thunder
27 Garrett Schmitz D R 26 2019 Red Lake Falls, Minnesota Thunder
19 Jordan Sims  F L 29 2019 Fort Wayne, Indiana Thunder
3 Brendan Smith D L 23 2019 Centennial, Colorado Thunder
22 Beau Starrett F L 24 2019 Bellingham, Massachusetts Condors
8 Nolan Vesey F L 24 2019 North Reading, Massachusetts Oilers
1 Evan Weninger G L 23 2019 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Thunder
6 Riley Weselowski (C) D R 34 2019 Pilot Mound, Manitoba Thunder

Retired numbers

Notable NHL alumni

List of Wichita Thunder alumni who played more than 25 games in Wichita and 25 or more games in the National Hockey League.

Leaders

Head coaches

Name Year(s) Record
Gary Fay 1992 6–20
Doug Shedden 1992–1995 103–49–12
Don Jackson 1995–1996 22–50–29
Bryan Wells 1996–2001 161–146–39
James Latos 2001–2003 32–53–13
Sean O'Reilly Interim 1–0–0
Derek Laxdal 2003–2005 87–58–8
Mark French 2005–2007 70–56–16
Rob Weingartner 2007–2008 16–29–2
Brent Bilodeau 2008–2009 22–52
Jason Duda Interim 7–40–4
Kevin McClelland 2010–2016 194–166–48
Malcolm Cameron 2016–2019 84–105–27
Bruce Ramsay 2019–present

General managers

Name Appointment Departure
Bill Shuck 1992 2002
David Holt 2003 2005
Chris Presson 2005 2008
Joel Lomurno 2008 present

Awards and trophies

The following lists the league awards which have been won by the Thunder team and its players. [10]

ECHL

Community Service Award

CHL


References

  1. "CHL Clubs Join ECHL for 2014-15 Season". Central Hockey League. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  2. "ECHL Accepts Seven Members". ECHL. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  3. "Malcolm Cameron will be Wichita Thunder's next coach". The Wichita Eagle. May 19, 2016.
  4. "Ottawa Senators name Wichita Thunder new ECHL affiliate". silversevensens.com. July 4, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
  5. "Thunder Lands Affiliation Agreement with Ottawa Senators". OurSports Central. July 14, 2016.
  6. "Wichita Thunder hockey team parts ways with head coach Malcolm Cameron". The Wichita Eagle. April 11, 2019.
  7. "WICHITA NAMES BRUCE RAMSAY AS HEAD COACH". ECHL. May 15, 2019.
  8. "Wichita Thunder Roster - Wichita Thunder Hockey". Wichita Thunder. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  9. Hall, John. "Duda's Number 11 Retired in Wichita". Pro Hockey News. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  10. Central Hockey League Historical Award Winners, archived from the original on November 3, 2015, retrieved October 28, 2019
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