The Thunderbolts didn’t #MakeItToSixteen last year…but just…you… wait…#PlayoffsOrBust!
Head Coach: Jeff Pyle – Second-year head coach of the Evansville Thunderbolts in his 18th season coaching. Pyle during his coaching career has amassed 574 wins in the 1,162 total games as a head coach in leagues from the SPHL, ECHL, AHL, and the first & second-division pro leagues in Germany.
Last Season: Evansville finished last in their first season in the SPHL with 14 wins 42 loses with 10 of those coming from overtime.
2016-17 Season Summary – Let’s just say last season started off on the wrong foot for the newly founded Evansville Thunderbolts, going 0-8-3 before winning their first game of the season in Roanoke. Coach Pyle made some player changes and with those changes came road games, that allowed for the players to bond a little more. The players being able to spend time on the road helped then string together some wins to give a good push towards the team landing a playoff spot in their inaugural season in the SPHL before falling just a couple of games out of playoff contention. The way the first season started for the Thunderbolts was not what they had in mind, but the team did not quit, and the fans didn’t give up on them either.
- Dave Williams (F): Dave is starting his second season with Evansville after finishing as the teams leading scorer for the 2016-17 season with 21 goals and 17 assists for 38 points last year.
- Mark Petaccio (F): Mark is coming back to Evansville after making a strong showing here during his 16 games last season. During his time with the Thunderbolts Petaccio was able to net five goals and dish seven for 12 points before heading back to the Watertown Wolves in the Federal Hockey League to help his team push for the championship.
- Al Graves (F): Al will make his return to Evansville this season after showing the fans he is willing to leave it all on the ice with the big hits and fights everyone enjoys but also scoring goals by putting four in the back of the net and assisting with four more. Standing at 6’1″ and weighing in at 225lbs Al is a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
- Dylan Clarke (F): Clarke is no stranger to the Evansville crowd playing for the Evansville IceMen for two seasons. Clarke will be an excellent asset to the Thunderbolts this season bringing in his veteran skills on and off the ice leading the players in the right direction.
- Jeremy Brodeur (G): Brodeur is a name anyone who enjoys watching the sport of hockey should know. Jeremy’s father Martin Brodeur is a future NHL Hall of Fame goaltender who has seemed to have passed down his skills onto his children. Brodeur is coming off a stellar three seasons in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals one of those seasons the team went on to win the Mastercard Memorial Cup trophy. Brodeur is looking to secure his position with the Thunderbolts as starting goalie for the 2017-18 season.
- Jackson Leef (F): Ft. Wayne, Indiana native Leef spent 11 games in the SPHL in the 2016-17 season with the Knoxville Ice Bears and the Peoria Rivermen. Leef spent four years at Westfield State University in which his last year he was the team captain and in 26 games that year he was able to put 19 goals in the net. Additionally, Leef was able to lend a hand in 21 goals on the season for a total of 40 points.
- Josh Elmes (D): Elmes who spent time with the Fayetteville FireAntz and the Thunderbolts. Josh was able to score six goals and assist on 13 more during his 43 games last season. This season Elmes will be bidding for a position on the roster for the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL
- Austin McKay (F): McKay who was picked up from the Pensacola Ice Flyers last year in a mid-season trade will be heading up the ECHL after signing with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. McKay was able to net six and help out with five more before finishing out his season in the ECHL with the Rapid City Rush.
Given the Thunderbolts started off last season on a downward spiral going winless for 11 games in a row this season has to start off on a different foot. Starting this season facing a team like the Peoria Rivermen who had the Thunderbolts number in plenty of games last year is going to be tough. Pyle is putting together a team that will work and play together on the ice and brings Evansville a championship in the SPHL during their second season in the league. I am thinking that with the team Pyle is compiling the Thunderbolts will push hard for a playoff spot this year and the fans will enjoy each game this season on home ice.
I’m predicting the Thunderbolts will go 30-20-6 with a berth in the playoffs during the second season in the league.
What Say You?