WICHITA, Kan. – Welcome to the rebirth of an old feature, looking at the past and breaking down upcoming games, storylines and more for the Wichita Thunder. It’s a feature we call “Rolling Thunder” and no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot take the weather geek out of the man.
Let’s get started, shall we!
Game #1 — Friday vs. Idaho at INTRUST Bank Arena
With a glut of contracted players on the roster, nine from the AHL and NHL to be exact, the Wichita Thunder got their 2018-19 campaign off to a solid start, earning a 3-2 shootout win over the Idaho Steelheads.
After goals by Jakob Stukel (his first as a pro) and P.C. Labrie, Wichita squandered a two-goal late in the late stages of the second period. Both sides played the third period to a stalemate on the scoreboard (Idaho controlled most of the action,) Wichita peppered Phillippe Desrosiers with eight shots, including an unconverted penalty shot, during the five-minute overtime. Desrosiers was equal to the task and forced the game to a shootout, where Colin Jacobs won it in the fourth round for Wichita.
The win gave Wichita back-to-back season-opening wins for the first time since the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.
Game #2 — Saturday vs. Allen at INTRUST Bank Arena
In a word…ouch. In front of more than 10-thousand fans, the Thunder laid a huge egg on home-ice.
All the Stats:
Division Rank: 6th in ECHL’s Mountain Division (2 pts)
Leading Scorer: Five players tied with one point a piece
Goals: 1 each — Labrie and Stukel
Assists: Three tied with one (Jake Kulevich, John McFarland, Colin Larkin)
Plus/Minus: Two at +1 — Larkin and Stukel
Goals For: 3
Goals Against: 7
Power Play: 0-11 (0.0% conversion rate, T-last in ECHL)
Penalty Kill: 7-7 (100% kill rate, T-1st in ECHL)
Goaltending: Stuart Skinner 1-0-0, 1.85 GAA, .950 save percentage
Dylan Wells, 0-1-0, 4.00 GAA, .882 save percentage
Feels Like the First Time: Friday’s season opener was the first professional game for netminder Stuart Skinner and winger Jakob Stukel, and both performed very well. Stukel opened the Thunder scoring 16 minutes into the opening period, potting a feed from John McFarland by Desrosiers. It was also the first time for Thunder player/assistant coach, P.C. Labrie, who scored his first ECHL goal early in the second period.
Meanwhile, Skinner stopped 38 of 40 Steelheads shots, and all four in the shootout, to claim his first win.
The 700 Club: Malcolm Cameron coached his 700th game on Friday night, joining some elite company in the ECHL record books. He joins just four other coaches to reach that feat in the league. Friday night was also his 373rd ECHL win, putting him one behind Steve Martinson for fifth place all-time in that category.
Weird Science: It is interesting to note that Wichita received zero points from their top line of Ralph Cuddemi–Greg Chase–Ryan Van Stralen during the two games this weekend, despite throwing 25 shots to the net between the three of them. Conversely, the bottom two lines and 10th forward slots combined for two goals and two assists.
Mixed Reviews: Wichita is one of seven teams in the league that hasn’t allowed a power-play goal through the first weekend. The Thunder penalty kill went 7-for-7 over the weekend, busting both Allen and Idaho’s power-play units.
Meanwhile, on the power-play, Wichita is one seven ECHL teams to not light the lamp on the man-advantage. Newfoundland, Orlando, Allen, Cincinnati, South Carolina and Kalamazoo are the others.
The Road to “25”: A magic number for Thunder fans to follow is “25,” which represents the number of wins the team would likely need against Tulsa, Kansas City, and Allen to be significant contenders for the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Last season, Wichita went 15-12-2-0 against those three teams. This season, Wichita played those three teams 40 times. Here is a breakdown of the team’s record against the Thunder’s three foes:
Kansas City: No Record
Tulsa: No Record
Comings and Goings:
Here’s a breakdown of the player movement over the last week for Wichita:
|Oct 11||Traded (D) Justin Lemcke to Cincinnati for cash considerations|
|Oct 12||Released (F) Ryan Valentini, Added (F) Hayden Hodgson from trade w/Toledo, (D) Travis Brown assigned by AHL San Antonio, (D) Jake Kulevich assigned by Bakersfield, (F) John McFarland assigned by Bakersfield, placed Mitch Maloney & Kevin Patterson on 14-day IR retro to 10/10|
|Oct 13||Activated (D) Dylan Labbe from reserve, placed (D) Jeremy Beaudry on reserve|
The Next Five:
Here’s a look at the next five opponents for the Wichita Thunder. Home games are in bold italics and all times Central.
|Opponent||Date & Game Start Time||Venue|
|Allen Americans||Friday, October 19 7:05 pm CT||INTRUST Bank Arena|
|Allen Americans||Saturday, October 20 7:05 pm CT||Allen Event Center|
|Tulsa Oilers||Saturday, October 27 7:05 pm CT||BOK Center|
|Kansas City Mavericks||Friday, November 2 7:05 pm CT||Silverstein Eye Centers Arena|
|Utah Grizzlies||Sunday, November 4 4:05 pm CT||INTRUST Bank Arena|
Join Matthew Will and me before every Wichita Thunder game this season beginning at 6:30 pm for The Sin Bin Pregame show! You can tune in on ECHL TV, on mixlr.com or on The Sin Bin app for Apple & Android devices!