WICHITA, KS — The Wichita Thunder squared off against their two biggest rivals at INTRUST Bank Arena this past weekend. Let’s take a look back at the week that was.
Last Week’s Results (Home team in CAPS):
Friday: Allen 3 @ WICHITA 0 — Wichita peppered Allen goaltender Riley Gill with a season-high 21 shots in the first period and 44 for the game, but the Allen goaltender was equal to the task every single time. The Thunder suffered their third shutout of the season.
Saturday: Missouri 5 @ WICHITA 2 — The Thunder spotted Missouri a three-goal first period lead before cutting the deficit to one before the end of the period. Missouri would fire 24 shots on goaltender Grant Rollheiser in the second period and scored the next three goals to win going away.
Team Leaders (as of 11/24):
Goals: Baptista, Lowe, Sakaris — 4
Assists: Sakaris — 7
Points: Sakaris — 11
PIM: Peckham — 37
Shots on Goal: Sakaris — 39
Wins: Shantz — 3
Team Transactions (as of 11/24):
11/20 — Dalton Reum (D) placed on 21-day IR
11/20 — Eric Springer (D) activated from reserve
ECHL Central Division Standings (as of 11/24):
This Week’s Schedule (Home team in CAPS):
Wednesday: Indy @ WICHITA 7:05pm INTRUST Bank Arena
Friday: Wichita @ TULSA 7:05pm BOK Center
Saturday: Tulsa @ WICHITA 7:05pm INTRUST Bank Arena
Law and Order: The ECHL Tuesday suspended Theo Peckham two games for a cross-check to Mavericks goaltender Parker Milner at the final horn in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss. Peckham was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct. Read more on Peckham’s suspension, here: https://thesinbin.net/echl-announces-fines-and-suspensions.
Career Highs: With his first period goal Saturday night, forward Andy Huff clinched a pair of career highs; goals (3) and points (9). Despite having sat out a few games this season, the Howell, MI native is second on the team in points, with nine.
Sakaris Chipping In: Forward Peter Sakaris continues to be one of the Thunder’s hottest scorers this season. The Candiac, PQ native chipped in an assist Saturday night and continues to lead the team with 11 points (4G, 7A).
Gauthier on the Board: In his 13th game of the season, Wichita’s lone ECHL All-Star game representative last season finally got on the goal sheet. Danick Gauthier trickled a rebound past Mavericks goaltender Parker Milner late in the first period Saturday night.
Shantz Standing Strong: David Shantz ranks 10th in the league in saves (263) and 12th in minutes played (565). The Hamilton, ON native also has a 2.76 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
First Period Productivity: The Thunder have scored 14 of their 31 goals (45.16%) in the first period this season. When scoring first, Wichita is 3-1-0-1 on the season.
Top Heavy: Wichita has played 16 games so far this season. The Thunder has played Missouri seven times and Allen twice, who are the top two teams in the division. Outside of those two opponents, Wichita is 5-2-0-0 on the season.
Power Failure: It’s a dubious distinction, but something this reporter feels needs to be written. The Wichita Thunder have the worst power play in all of minor pro hockey. The Thunder went 0-for-6 on the man-advantage this past weekend and are now 2-for-61 (3.3% efficiency) on the power-play this season.
Here are the next five worst power plays in minor pro hockey, as of 11/24:
|SPHL||Louisiana IceGators||4.4 (2-for-45)|
|SPHL||Macon Mayhem||5.3 (2-for-38)|
|SPHL||Huntsville Havoc||6.1 (2-for-33)|
|SPHL||Columbus Cottonmouths||7.1 (3-for-42)|
|AHL||Manitoba Moose||7.7 (5-for-65)|
“Special teams is costing us games; night after night after night,” Thunder Head Coach Kevin McClelland said after Friday night’s 3-0 loss to Allen. “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.”
Indy Fuel Coming to Town: The Indy Fuel and Wichita Thunder will meet for the first time ever on Wednesday night at INTRUST Bank Arena. It will be the first time since March 2013 that bench bosses Scott Hillman and Kevin McClelland have gone head-to-head. The Fuel have some names that maybe familiar to Thunder fans…Garett Bembridge (member of the 2012-13 CHL Finals squad,) Shane Owen (former Mavericks goaltender,) and Josh Brittain (former Mavericks forward.) More on this matchup, tomorrow.
Weekend With the Oilers: The Thunder will hit the road Friday to kick off a home-and-home series against the Tulsa Oilers. When these teams last played, the two goaltenders — David Shantz and Jussi Olkuinora — battled into the fourth round of the shootout, until Anthony Deluca put an end to the proceedings with a slick goal. The two teams are in a battle for third in the division, so this is a big weekend series. I’ll have more on this weekend’s games later in the week.
Sticktaps: Props to Wichita Thunder fans, who donated nearly 1,000 teddy bears to local children in need Saturday night.
He Said It: “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.” — Kevin McClelland on the Thunder’s lack of scoring so far. The Thunder are averaging 1.94 goals per game.