WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder returned home last week with a four-game winning streak in tow, to take on a Utah Grizzlies team that had a much sharper edge to their game than the last time the two teams played in March.
The Past Week:
Three games vs. Utah (2-1-0-0; 4 of 6 possible points gained)
- Friday, April 9, 2021 – The Thunder and Grizzlies contest needed Jomboy to break down everything that happened; two ice delays, two goals reviewed, two penalty discussion stoppages, a referee injury stoppage, a power-play, and a shorthanded goal. After getting out to a 3-0 lead and being in control of the game, the Thunder squandered four goals in the final ten minutes of the second period, before scoring two of their own in the third period to escape with a 5-4 win.
- Saturday, April 10, 2021 – Evan Buitenhuis was the star of the show on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles night, stopping a career-high 53 shots as the Thunder once again escaped with a 1-0 win. For the second night in a row, the game had a physical edge, with quite a few post-whistle skirmishes between the clubs.
- Sunday, April 11, 2021 – For the second straight game, goaltending was the story as the teams wrapped up their three-game set. Grizzlies netminder Garrett Metcalf allowed one goal on 37 shots as the Thunder fell to the Grizzlies 2-1. Hayden Lavigne made his return to Wichita after spending more than two months with the AHL’s Stockton Heat.
The Thunder enters the week on top of the Western Conference, with a “magic” number to clinch a playoff berth at 28. This reminder, magic numbers will be calculated differently this year, due to standings being based on points percentage.
Here is where everyone else stacks up heading into play on Friday night:
- Team toughness should not be a concern for Thunder fans. In Saturday night’s contest, head coach Bruce Ramsay started all five of his tough guys; Stefan Fournier, Ryan White, Mathieu Gagnon, Sean Allen, and Jacob Graves to begin the game. Even though nothing materialized from the move, it showed Utah the Thunder would not be intimidated. Message-sending goes a long way this time of year, especially when you could see that team again in the playoffs.
- Evan Buitenhuis beat out Alex Sakarellopoulos for the starting job (for now) and his performance Friday & Saturday night cemented it. Since joining the Thunder, Buitenhuis is 6-1-0-0, with a 2.00 goals against average, a .946 save percentage, with a pair of shutouts.
- Matteo Gennaro has picked up where he left off before going on the shelf with a lower-body injury. Since returning to the lineup, he has four points (2G, 2A) and is on a five-game point streak, dating back to mid-March.
- The team lost the services of Patrik Parkkonen last weekend, as he returned home to his native Finland to prepare for next hockey season. At the time, he was the Thunder’s quarterback on the power play and leading scorer among defensemen. Parkkonen’s cohort on the power-play, Dean Stewart has taken over on the main power-play unit, which scored a power-play goal on Sunday afternoon.
- Jay Dickman has been scoreless in the last four games, his second-longest streak of the season.
- Goals: Beauregard & Fournier – 16 each
- Assists: Beauregard – 36
- Points: Beauregard – 52 (league-leader by one point over Orlando’s Aaron Luchuk)
- Plus/Minus: Beauregard +20
- Rookie scoring: Jay Dickman – 31 pts (13G, 18A, +19; 13 goals are tied for 2nd among league rookies, 18 assists are tied for fourth, 31 points are third, +19 rating leads all rookies)
- Evan Buitenhuis: 6-1-0-0, 2.00 goals against average, .946 save percentage, 2 shutouts
- Hayden Lavigne: 2-1-0-0, 2.01 goals against average, .942 save percentage
Thunder Players in the AHL:
Currently, there are no players on an NHL/AHL contract on the Thunder roster. We’re dedicating this space for players who played here this year and are currently up in the American Hockey League. We’ll have their current AHL statline and, in parenthesis, their stats with the Thunder this season:
- Gordie Green – TOR – 2 GP with Marlies, no points, -2 (5G, 8A, 13 pts, and +3 in 12 games with Wichita)
- Jeremy McKenna – TOR – 15 GP, 3G, 4A with Marlies this season (4G, 7A, 11 pts, and +4 in 13 games with Wichita)
- Bobby McMann – TOR – 8 GP, no points, -6 (5G, 11A, 16 pts, and +13 in 15 games with Wichita)
- Noel Hoefenmayer – TOR – 10 GP, no goals, two assists, -2 (2G, 5A, 7 pts, and -2 in 16 games with Wichita)
- Vincent Desharnais – BAK – 24GP, no goals, seven assists, +1 (0G, 4A, 4 pts, and +5 in 6 games with Wichita)
The Coming Week:
Oil and Water
The Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder renew acquaintances starting tonight at the BOK Center. This season, the Thunder are 2-3-2-0 against the Oilers, their worst record among any Western Conference opponent. All but one game in the season series-to-date have been settled by one goal. Matt Lane and Mike McKee are the leading point-earners for Tulsa, while Anthony Beauregard & Matteo Gennaro are for Wichita. Interestingly, no Wichita player is a “plus” player against the Oilers this season.
Can’t Make it to the Arena?
Tonight and tomorrow night’s game are scheduled for a 7:05 pm puck drop. The Sin Bin Pregame Show gets the night started at 6:35 pm tonight, with the show starting at 6:25 pm tomorrow night on The Sin Bin app.
Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 4:05 pm puck drop, with the pregame show starting at 3:25 pm.
You can listen to every Wichita Thunder game this season on The Sin Bin app.
Around the ECHL:
- Allen continues their three-game set with the Rapid City Rush in Rapid City
- Fort Wayne plays Wheeling/Indy/Wheeling this weekend. The Komets are a combined 15-4-3-1 against the Fuel & Nailers this season, 1-3-0-0 against the rest of the ECHL
- South Carolina hosts Orlando in a battle for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.