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Rolling Thunder: Opening Weekend, Gillam Shines and Toronto Loans

Rolling Thunder: Opening Weekend, Gillam Shines and Toronto Loans

WICHITA, KS. – After a wait of over 250 days, the Wichita Thunder kicked off their 2020-21 season last weekend. A 14-day wait follows the Thunder’s lone game during the weekend.

The Past Week:

The Game:

Wichita opened their 2020-21 campaign on the road to face familiar opponents, the Tulsa Oilers.  In summary, the Thunder took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission but allowed Tulsa two of their own in the third. Neither team could execute in overtime, sending the contest to a shootout. Peter Crinella scored the lone shootout goal to give Wichita a win in their first game of the year.

The Pros:

  • Wichita looked tremendous on the penalty kill, stopping Tulsa on all four of their powerplay opportunities. This included a long 5-on-3 PP for the Oilers. Wichita’s second goal was scored shorthanded as Matteo Gennaro made the best of a broken Tulsa play.
  • Mitch Gillam is back in Wichita for the second year and he hasn’t missed a beat. Not only did he look solid in net but he stepped up for Wichita in the shootout following Crinella’s goal. His 39 saves on 41 Tulsa shots earned him ECHL Goaltender of the Week honors.

The Cons:

  • The penalties Wichita took were pretty careless. The two slashing penalties and hooking calls were at times that could have really haunted the Thunder, but they played their way out of them fairly well. The delay of game directly after the beginning of the third Tulsa powerplay was the worst one, putting Wichita in an awful situation.
  • Wichita now has a 14-day break between games until they face Kansas City on December 26. While the practice time is nice, it feels as if the time away from real game competition could be bad for the Thunder. Kansas City will enter the game with one additional game under their belt.

Who’s In, Who’s Out:

  • Wichita released forwards John CurranAustin AlbrechtChris GerrieFrankie Melton and defenseman Kyle Pouncy on December 13.
  • On December 15, defenseman Dalton Skelly was activated from the Commissioner’s Exempt List while Riley Weselowski was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.
  • Yesterday, Lane Bauer was released as the Thunder were loaned forwards Gordie GreenBobby McMann, Jeremy McKenna and defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer from the Toronto Marlies. Also, forward Alex Berardinelli was activated from the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

The Coming Week:

A Break in the Action:

  • As stated earlier, Wichita has another week to wait to take the ice against an ECHL foe. They’ll travel to Kansas City on December 26 to take on the Mavericks.

Around the ECHL:

  • There are five games scheduled for Friday night including a Mountain division showdown between the Rapid City Rush and the Allen Americans. Saturday features a four-game slate, once again including a matchup between Rapid City and Allen.

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