Wichita Thunder

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Wichita Thunder
2020–21 ECHL season
Wichita Thunder logo.svg
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 Championships2 (1997–98, 2011–12)
Ray Miron President's Cup2 (1993–94, 1994–95)

The Wichita Thunder is 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.

Franchise history[edit]

Central Hockey League[edit]

The Thunder was 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 its 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 its first sellout in team history when the crowd of 9,686 fans watched the Thunder defeat Oklahoma City 4–3.

The Thunder was originally coached by Gary Fay, but after a 6–20 start, he was replaced by Doug Shedden. The season was quickly turned around by Shedden, and it finished its first season with a 25-32-2 record. On April 5, 1993, the Thunder goaltender Robert Desjardins was named the first CHL Rookie of the Year. In the following two seasons, the Thunder was the regular season champion (Adams Cup) and playoff champion (William Levins Memorial Cup). Ron Handy was the Playoff Most Valuable Player for both seasons and 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, 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, Jackson resigned to become head coach of the Kansas City Blades of the International Hockey League (IHL). Jackson was replaced by Bryan Wells to become the Thunder's fourth head coach in franchise history. Wells wento on to coach the Thunder for five seasons, making the playoffs in four out of the five seasons he coached. On May 2, 2001, Wells was dismissed as head coach.

After the dismissal of 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 was out of the playoffs. Latos was fired the following season after a disappointing start of 8-19-7. Five days after his 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 securing two separate playoff places. 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 went on to become the assistant coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears and the following season took them to a championship as head coach. The Thunder then named former player Rob Weingartner to lead the team. Weingartner played for the Thunder from 1992 to 1996 when he was a member of two championship teams. Weingartner compiled a record of 16-29-2 during his tenure. He has since become 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 fired early in his second season and became the assistant coach of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans for two seasons. After the Thunder fired 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 finished the season with a 7-43-5 record became an assistant coach under the next head coach, Kevin McClelland.

ECHL[edit]

On October 7, 2014, soon before the 2014–15 CHL season was set to begin, it was announced that the Central Hockey League had 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 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, earning a playoff spot in his first season and taking the team to the playoff finals in 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 Thunder 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, said 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 was not offered an extension.[6]

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

Season-by-season records[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season GP W L T OTL SOL Pts GF GA PIM Standing Year 1st round 2nd round 3rd round Finals
1992–93 60 25 33 0 2 52 242 320 1876 6th of 6, CHL 1993 Did not qualify
1993–94 64 40 18 6 86 309 275 2522 1st of 6, CHL 1994 W, 4–3, DAL W, 4–0, TUL
1994–95 66 44 18 4 92 320 268 2513 1st of 7, CHL 1995 W, 4–1, OKC W, 4–2, SA
1995–96 64 22 39 3 47 270 380 2304 6th of 6, CHL 1996 Did not qualify
1996–97 66 25 31 10 60 279 324 2660 4th of 5, Western Div. 1997 OKC L, 1–4, FTW
1997–98 70 35 31 4 74 302 303 2321 2nd of 5, Western Div. 1998 W, 3–2, TUL W, 4–3, OKC L, 0–4, COL
1998–99 70 34 26 10 78 257 262 2158 3rd of 6, Western Div. 1999 L, 1–3, SA
1999–00 70 37 26 7 81 245 231 2049 2nd of 6, Western Div. 2000 L, 2–3, OKC
2000–01 70 30 32 8 68 251 251 2418 5th of 6, Western Div. 2001 Did not qualify
2001–02 64 24 34 6 54 203 262 1913 3rd of 4, Northwest Div. 2002 Did not qualify
2002–03 64 21 36 5 2 49 216 261 1837 4th of 4, Northwest Div. 2003 Did not qualify
2003–04 64 35 24 1 4 75 194 197 1558 2nd of 5, Northwest Div. 2004 W, 3–1, COL L, 1–4, BS
2004–05 60 40 17 2 1 83 210 158 1784 2nd of 4, Northwest Div. 2005 W, 4–3, BS L, 2–4, COL
2005–06 64 38 18 4 4 84 233 200 1841 2nd of 4, Northwest Div. 2006 L, 1–4, BS
2006–07 64 28 28 0 8 64 191 213 1841 3rd of 4, Northwest Div. 2007 L, 2–4, BS
2007–08 64 20 42 1 1 42 156 247 1905 5th of 5, Northwest Div. 2008 Did not qualify
2008–09 64 20 41 2 1 43 168 230 1419 4th of 4, Northwest Div. 2009 Did not qualify
2009–10 64 9 50 1 4 23 128 257 1354 7th of 7, Northern Conf. 2010 Did not qualify
2010–11 66 34 26 2 4 74 249 231 1189 5th of 9, Turner Conf. 2011 L, 2–3, MO
2011–12 66 44 19 1 2 91 231 181 1077 1st of 7, Berry Conf. 2012 W, 4–1, RGV W, 4–2, TEX L, 1–4, FW
2012–13 66 39 19 2 6 86 240 182 1106 2nd of 10, CHL 2013 W, 4–0, ARZ W, 4–0, FTW L, 3–4, ALN
2013–14 66 27 30 4 5 63 201 223 973 9th of 10, CHL 2014 Did not qualify
2014–15 72 32 31 2 7 73 213 240 1508 5th of 6, Central Div. 2015 Did not qualify
2015–16 72 18 41 7 6 49 150 240 1152 4th of 4, Central Div. 2016 Did not qualify
2016–17 72 21 44 6 1 49 189 278 1291 7th of 7, Central Div. 2017 Did not qualify
2017–18 72 34 30 6 2 76 222 235 1091 4th of 7, Mountain Div. 2018 L, 2–4, COL
2018–19 72 29 31 9 3 70 224 251 1286 5th of 7, Mountain Div. 2019 Did not qualify
2019–20 62 24 30 8 0 56 181 233 794 6th of 7, Mountain Div. 2020 Season cancelled

Players[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Updated December 29, 2020.[8]
# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
2 Canada Sean Allen D L 22 2019 Puslinch, Ontario Thunder
91 Canada Anthony Beauregard C R 25 2020 Saint-Damase, Quebec Thunder
7 United States Alex Bernardinelli F L 25 2020 Greensburg, Pennsylvania Thunder
12 United States Cam Clarke D R 24 2020 Tecumseh, Michigan Thunder
72 United States Peter Crinella F L 24 2019 East Longmeadow, Massachusetts Thunder
25 Canada Vincent Desharnais D R 24 2019 Laval, Quebec Thunder
21 United States Jay Dickman F L 27 2020 Saint Paul, Minnesota Thunder
51 Canada Spencer Dorowicz F L 27 2019 Olds, Alberta Thunder
17 Canada Stefan Fournier F R 28 2018 Dorval, Quebec Thunder
75 Canada Mathieu Gagnon D L 28 2020 Montreal, Quebec Thunder
34 Canada Matteo Gennaro C L 23 2020 St. Albert, Alberta Thunder
37 Canada Mitch Gillam G L 28 2019 Peterborough, Ontario Thunder
20 Canada Jacob Graves D R 25 2019 Barrie, Ontario Thunder
18 United States Gordie Green RW R 23 2020 Ann Arbor, Michigan Marlies
8 Canada Noel Hoefenmayer D L 22 2020 North York, Ontario Marlies
41 Canada Jeremy McKenna RW R 21 2020 Canmore, Alberta Marlies
24 Canada Bobby McMann C L 24 2020 Wainwright, Alberta Marlies
3 Finland Patrik Parkkonen D L 27 2019 Porvoo, Finland Thunder
19 Canada Chantz Petruic C L 21 2020 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Thunder
27 United States Garrett Schmitz D R 27 2019 Red Lake Falls, Minnesota Thunder
22 United States Beau Starrett F L 25 2019 Bellingham, Massachusetts Thunder
29 United States Brayden Watts RW R 21 2020 Bakersfield, California Thunder
40 Canada Evan Weninger G L 24 2020 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Thunder
6 Canada Riley Weselowski (C) D R 35 2019 Pilot Mound, Manitoba Thunder

Retired numbers[edit]

Notable NHL alumni[edit]

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

Leaders[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

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[edit]

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

Awards and trophies[edit]

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

ECHL[edit]

Community Service Award

CHL[edit]

References[edit]

  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 October 26, 2020.
  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

External links[edit]