WICHITA, KS — It is an oddity for a Kevin McClelland coached team to struggle offensively. Sure, individual players have droughts over the course of a season, but rare is it to see everyone so cold at the same time. But the Wichita Thunder offense is as frozen as Saturday morning’s biting north wind.
The Thunder put up 44 shots, including a season-high 21 in the first period Friday night, but failed to get one past Allen Americans goaltender Riley Gill.
“He (Gill) was outstanding and showed why he helped us win a championship last year…stopping everything Wichita threw at him in the first,” said Allen head coach Steve Martinson.
“We can’t play like that every night…we aren’t built like that right now until some guys get some confidence scoring and maybe we can get into those games,” said Thunder head coach Kevin McClelland.
The sheer volume of shots volleyed toward Gill kept the Thunder in the game for most of the night, but it is a continued inability to get anything going on the power play, which severely hinders the team.
“Special teams is costing us games; night after night after night,” McClelland said. “As soon as we start scoring power play goals, we are going to be in games. Games that we lose by one-goal, we are going oh-for and the other team is going one or two power play goals. It’s killing us right now. Guys that are on that power play, need to get things done.”
Wichita failed to convert on four power play chances, including a more than 90 second 5-on-3 man advantage Friday night, and now are an abysmal 2 for 59 (3.4% efficiency rate,) on the man advantage, good for last in the 28-team ECHL and worst in all of minor pro hockey.
“That’s ridiculous,” McClelland said. “It’s not like we don’t have the guys — maybe on the back-end we don’t but up front we have guys that should be able to score. The bottom line is, the guys who are getting paid to score here aren’t scoring. Eventually, that’s going to have to find a solution.”
The guys McClelland brought in for offense during the offseason; Michael Neal, Joey Sides, Danick Gauthier and Kenton Miller have a combined four goals through the team’s first fifteen games.
“I wouldn’t think after fifteen games you’d look to see a couple of guys on our team with zero goals. That’s unbelievable,” McClelland said. “We can’t go do it for them. At the end of the day, they’ve got to find a way to break the monkey off the back and get it done.”
The Thunder return to INTRUST Bank Arena ice tonight, where they look to snap a six-game losing streak to the league-leading Missouri Mavericks.