WICHITA, Kan. – With under two weeks until the beginning of the 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the Thunder no longer have their sights set on a playoff spot, but the spot atop the Western Conference.
The Past Week:
The Games (2-1-0-0: 4 of 6 possible points gained):
- The Thunder firmly put their foot down as best in the west, taking four of six points against second-place Fort Wayne. Following a tough Friday night, where the Komets capitalized on two Thunder defensive-zone errors to take a 2-1 win. Wichita bounced back on Saturday when Brayden Watts and Spencer Dorowicz both collected two-point nights to help give the Thunder a 4-2 win. The boys from Toronto pitched in Sunday, with goals from Gordie Green and Jeremy McKenna to help wrap up the series with a 3-1 win for Wichita.
- The Thunder showed their teeth Sunday, with a lot of physicality from minute one to minute 60. In a series where Wichita could pretty much put the Western Conference title out of reach, they showed little mercy after getting beat Friday night.
- The additions of Green, McKenna, Bobby McMann and Noel Hoefenmayer from the Toronto Marlies immediately made an impact as all but McMann found the scoresheet on either Saturday or Sunday.
- Wichita’s penalty kill kept the ECHL’s top powerplay unit to 2-for-11 on the weekend.
- Wichita’s powerplay only converted on one of the seven tries all weekend. Fort Wayne’s penalty kill unit ranks second only behind the Thunder.
- Anthony Beauregard only played one of the three nights, his only game in the Thunder’s last six. He will be one to watch as the Thunder complete their last five games.
Who’s In, Who’s Out:
- Wichita received the four from Toronto on Saturday, causing Garrett Schmitz, Sean Allen and Peter Crinella all to be placed on reserve. On Sunday, Allen returned to the lineup as Beauregard was placed on reserve.
- Dean Stewart and Vincent Desharnais, who are both eligible to play in the ECHL playoffs, remain with Bakersfield, who begin their Pacific Division finals with Henderson tonight.
- On Tuesday, Beauregard’s agent Nick Riopel announced that he has signed with Switzerland’s HC Sierre for the 2021-22 season. However, he will finish the season with Wichita.
The Statistical Overview:
- Team Leaders
- Goals: Matteo Gennero — 24
- Assists: Beauregard — 39
- Points: Beauregard — 71 (leads ECHL)
- +/-: Beauregard & Jay Dickman — +27
- Penalty Minutes: Jacob Graves & Mathieu Gagnon — 113
- Games Played: Dickman & Cam Clarke — 66
- Evan Buitenhuis – 15-6-0-4 record, 2.27 GAA (T-2nd in ECHL), 0.932 SV% (1st in ECHL) and three shutouts (T-2nd in ECHL).
- Evan Weninger – 16-7-4-0 record, 2.60 GAA (7th in ECHL), 0.926 SV% (2nd in ECHL) and one shutout.
- Special Teams
- Powerplay: 36-for-239 for 15.1% (12th in ECHL)
- Penalty Kill: 239-for-274 for 87.2% (1st in ECHL)
The Coming Week:
Three with Oil:
- Wichita (40-18-6-2) continues the season with a three-game set with Tulsa (28-27-10-3) this weekend. After a Friday night showdown inside the BOK Center in Tulsa, the series heads to INTRUST Bank Arena, where the Thunder will conclude their home schedule on Saturday and Sunday. If Wichita can win all three, the Western Conference will likely be theirs.
Can’t Make it to the Arena?
- Friday and Saturday’s contests get underway at 7:05pm with Sunday’s matinee at 4:05pm. Catch The Sin Bin pregame show at 6:35pm on Friday and Saturday night and at 3:35pm on Sunday. You can listen to every Wichita Thunder game on The Sin Bin app.
Around the ECHL:
- Playoff Update:
- Greenville could clinch their spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs tonight with a win.
- Florida remains the only team in the East with a playoff spot clinched.
- Wichita and Allen are the only two in the West with playoff spots clinched.
- South Carolina faces Wheeling twice this week as they hope to keep playoff hopes alive.
- Fort Wayne and Indy share a trio of games – both looking to clinch their playoff spots this weekend.
- Rapid City’s playoff hopes are on the line as they face Allen this weekend.