WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder have found their replacement for Malcolm Cameron. It is 50-year-old Bruce Ramsay.
Flanked by Thunder General Manager Joel Lomurno, Ramsay was introduced at a press conference Wednesday at INTRUST Bank Arena. The introduction of Ramsay as the 14th head coach in franchise history comes just five days before the third anniversary of Cameron’s introduction to the same role.
“I’m very excited to have Bruce back in Wichita,” said Thunder General Manager Joel Lomurno. “I have kept in touch with Bruce over the years and he is someone I have always liked and respected. Bruce is a very passionate coach, has a wealth of championship experience and will no doubt work very hard through his many connections to put a solid team on the ice. More importantly, I think he will be a well-respected ambassador for the City of Wichita.”
“I just believe that the city in general, with the rink, fan support, and ownership, I feel city gives me one of the best opportunities to win a championship,” Ramsay said. “I’m looking forward to recruiting, start putting this team together. Obviously, there’s some really exciting things happening here with the All-Star Game and I want to add a playoff run to that next spring.”
Ramsay joins the Thunder after having a year off following a three-year stint as the assistant coach of the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, where he coached the team’s power play and defense. Ramsay was part of the team that won the Calder Cup championship in 2017.
Before joining the Griffins, Ramsay was the head coach of the Tulsa Oilers, where he went 185-180-35 in 400 regular season games, spanning six seasons. The Oilers made the CHL/ECHL playoffs in three of his six seasons at the helm, and Ramsay has made the league playoffs in eight of his 11 seasons behind the bench as a head coach.
When speaking on the differences between being a head coach in lower leagues, to being an assistant in the American Hockey League, Ramsay said:
“For 11 years as a pro coach, I never had an assistant. Once you make that next jump to the American Hockey League, you learn how much more they get into the meat and potatoes of the game, the pre-scouts, the amount of game preparation is incredible,” Ramsay said. “Having the players prepared is very important; understanding what they are going to be facing, what kind of systems they are going to see. When I was up there, that was one of our priorities and it instilled in me that my players here will be as prepared as they were in Grand Rapids.”
Ramsay has some work to do, but the cupboard is not as bare as when his predecessor took over three years ago. Wichita has 18 players under contract from the 2018-19 season, plus two more on AHL/ECHL deals. The Thunder rallied with a 5-2-3-0 record in their final ten games to finish just two games below .500, fifth in the Mountain Division and eight points out of a playoff spot. Wichita has made the CHL/ECHL playoffs only one time since skating in game 7 of the 2013 CHL President’s Cup Final against Allen.
Lomurno said during the press conference that conversations with the Edmonton Oilers regarding the player affiliation had taken place. It is interesting that Ramsay and new Oilers GM Ken Holland were in contact with each other when Ramsay was in Grand Rapids.
Matthew Will assisted with this story.