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The Great:  Even with last night’s discouraging 5-2 loss to Missouri there are some very good elements now appearing in Wichita Thunder’s game which is encouraging at this stage of the season. We’ve seen some of these in the last couple of games, but last night the team showed clear signs that they can compete in this league.

Powerplay — prior to last night’s game the team was ranked at No. 22 in the league (10.7% success rate). After last night’s two Powerplay goals they are now ranked 19th with a 14.7% success rate – in 7 games they have had 34 advantages with 5 goals for, and 1 short-handed goal against.  While it’s still not great, it is clicking and they looked very good last night. (Toledo Walleye at No. 1 have a 25% success rate.)

Penalty Kill — Wichita is ranked No. 8 in the league – in 7 games, they have been shorthanded 24 times, allowed 3 goals — a 87.5% success rate — with 1 short-handed goal for.  (Toledo Walleye also No. 1 with a 95.7% success rate. That’s great!)

Speed — an excellent high tempo game later in the 2nd & 3rd periods! The majority of the team proved last night that they have the speed to compete in the ECHL. Let’s keep this up!

Shots on Goal — great increase of shots on goal last night in large part due to Wichita’s new defenseman Kirill Tulupov who ended the game with the highest individual SOG for both teams at 9, and an assist on Miller’s second goal. Next in SOG, Thunder’s forward Kenton Miller had 7 SOG including his two PP goals. Nicely done!

The Bad: The team has some bad habits.

Possession — Puck turnovers in the neutral zone and elsewhere. Bad passes, giveaways – this is going to do them in if they can’t begin to control this aspect of their game. As Coach McClelland told Jeff Lutz last night following the game, “There for a few games we were just giving the puck away all the time. We were giving the puck away earlier in the game until we settled down in the second period and the third period. We’ve got to make stronger plays. We’ve got to take pucks deep into the offensive zone. We’re turning the puck over inside the blue lines too many times.” (Read Jeff Lutz’s game recap in the Wichita Eagle — highly recommended!)

Lack of even-strength goals – the team’s last even-strength goal was Nov. 2nd, which also relates to their low SOG average of about mid-20’s per game, until last night.

The Ugly:

Lack of on-ice communication between Thunder players – we see this time and time again – passes completely missed due to lack of communication, or the inability to set up or even finish a play. If the team can just communicate it should help with a multitude of problems. TALK to each other out there.

Man-to-man Coverage — this can be a very effective technique for teams since it allows for tighter coverage, taking away space and forcing turnovers. It is great in theory, however man-to-man coverage requires a great deal of communication, which this team is sadly lacking at this stage.

Frivolous penalties – the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties have to stop, along with other senseless penalties. A team currently sitting in 6th in the Central Division can ill afford any penalties, even with a decent PK unit!

The Wichita Thunder travel to Rapid City for back-to-back games on Tuesday, Nov. 11 and Wednesday, Nov. 12, and return home to face the Allen American on Saturday, Nov. 15.

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