WICHITA, Kan. – Free agency has been underway in the ECHL for the last two-plus weeks and while the Wichita Thunder have been quiet in the early stages of this period, it doesn’t mean head coach Bruce Ramsay hasn’t been busy burning cell phone towers trying to find the next crop of Thunder players.
“It has been a very good signing period,” Ramsay recently told The Sin Bin. “We have 12 or 13 players signed and ready to go.”
On Wednesday, the Thunder announced the first three signings to their preseason roster for 2019-20. In this wave of signings, Ramsay went with big-bodied forwards who have some pro and collegiate experience.
The first, Fabrizio Ricci, joins the Thunder after a solid sophomore season with the Elite Ice Hockey League’s (EIHL) Dundee Stars. There, the 24-year-old forward was named team MVP after putting up 39 points in 60 games. The third-year forward began his pro career in France with Cergy, where he tallied 39 points (11g, 28a) in 26 games.
Before turning pro, Ricci spent one season at Ryerson University, where he put up 10 points (5G, 5A) in 16 games. He also spent two years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he put up 74 points (32G, 42A) in 133 games.
Next, Matthew Whittaker joins the Thunder after playing five games with the Kelly Cup Champion Newfoundland Growlers and coming off a four-year career with Mercyhurst University. While he was held pointless in Newfoundland, he put up 58 points in 106 games. In 2018-19, Whittaker was named to the Atlantic Hockey Conference’s all-academic team, had a four-game goal streak, and racked up five points in two games against Canisius.
The final signing is another product of Ryerson University, John Carpino. The 24-year-old native of Vaughan, Ontario joins Wichita after playing the last three seasons at Ryerson, where he posted 60 points (30G, 30A) in 82 games. His best year came in 2012-13 with the North York Rangers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), where he posted 83 points (42G, 41A) in 54 games, good for fourth best in the OJHL that season.
“I’m very excited to have these three young, hungry forwards as part of the Thunder family,” Ramsay said. “They all bring size, grit and determination to our lineup and I’m looking forward to helping them achieve their goal of playing at a higher level.”
Keep track of all the signings and movement during the 2019 ECHL offseason by visiting our ECHL Transactions page!