WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder played another three-game set against the Allen Americans last week, a series that would give one team the top of the Western Conference for at least a few hours.
The Past Week:
Series vs. Allen (Thunder won 2-0-1-0)
- Wednesday, February 3, 2021 – The Thunder suffered their first loss when scoring first and leading after two periods, getting into penalty trouble in the third period and losing to Allen by the score of 4-3. John Albert, Gordie Green, and Dean Stewart all had multi-point nights for Wichita, while Evan Weninger made 32 saves on the night.
- Friday, February 5, 2021 – After a goal in the first minute by Jay Dickman, the Americans offense answered back with a three-goal onslaught in the span of five minutes to take a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. The Thunder got goals from Dickman and Matteo Gennaro to tie things up and force overtime. In the overtime, rookie Cam Clarke scored the game-winning goal on a pass from Anthony Beauregard to give the Thunder a come-from-behind win.
- Saturday, February 6, 2021 – Honoring the Wichita Wind, the Thunder blew in three goals in the final 20 minutes to pull away from Allen 5-2. Stefan Fournier, ECHL Player of the Week, posted two goals and two helpers on the night and six points on the weekend. Hayden Lavigne posted his second win in a Thunder uniform, stopping 37 shots.
- The line of Dickman-Beauregard-Fournier combined last weekend for 17 points in the three games against Allen last weekend. With the departure of Green, Jeremy McKenna, and Bobby McMann, that line’s continued success is critical to the overall success of the team until the other lines stabilize.
- The team proved that it can take a punch. Spotting a team a three-goal outburst is almost a death sentence in this league. Wichita found the moxie to take Allen’s best punch and deliver a haymaker of their own in an arena that’s been a house of horrors for Wichita since the CHL days.
- The power-play showed signs of life over the weekend, scoring two goals in nine power-play chances.
- Five stick infractions led to Allen power-plays on Wednesday night. Stick infractions have been something that has plagued the Thunder all season. When they play “clean,” they’re tough to beat.
Who’s In, Who’s Out:
- As mentioned earlier, three of the four Toronto players sent down; Green, McKenna, and McMann, have left for the AHL. Head coach Bruce Ramsay said in a pregame show interview on Saturday night he’d hope they’d be back for the playoff run. It’s TBD on how many games Toronto will play this season.
- Earlier this week, the Thunder signed J.C. Campagna, who was released by the Florida Everblades after one game. Wichita will be his ninth ECHL team in the span of his four-plus-year pro career. Overall, he has collected 122 points (65g, 57a) in 168 career ECHL games with Adirondack, Orlando, Allen, Fort Wayne, Norfolk and Florida.
- Wednesday, the Thunder acquired rookie forward Austin McIlmurray from the Fort Wayne Komets for cash. The 24-year-old forward is coming off a solid four-year career at Sacred Heart University, recording 86 points (45G, 41A) in 137 collegiate games. Last season, he was the Atlantic Hockey Association’s scoring champion, recording 32 points (18G, 14A) in 34 games, and led all of NCAA Division I hockey with 11 power-play goals.
- Ramsay says both Campagna and McIlmurray will play this weekend.
The Coming Week:
Into the Bears Cage:
Playing the Utah Grizzlies has not gone very well for the Thunder. In the five-plus years the teams have played, Wichita is 5-17-4-2 against the Grizzlies, including 1-6-0-0 last season.
Friday and Saturday night’s games are scheduled for an 8:10 pm puck drop with the Wichita Thunder pregame show presented by The Sin Bin with Matthew Harding and Matthew Will starting at 7:40 pm on The Sin Bin app on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 2:10 pm puck drop with the pregame show starting at 1:40 pm.
Around the ECHL:
- Friday night’s slate is four-games deep, with the Komets opening up in Wheeling and the Oilers/Rush continuing their three-game set.
- Six games on Saturday night, including the final game of the three-game Florida/South Carolina series, and Allen traveling to Independence to take on the Kansas City Mavericks
- Valentine’s Day features five games, including the final game of the Orlando/Greenville weekend set, and Indy traveling to Wheeling to play the Nailers.
Matthew Harding and Matthew Will cover the Wichita Thunder for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with them on Twitter @SinBinThunder.