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Wichita Thunder

The Wichita Thunder left Moline, Illinois last night with three points from their two roadtrip games against the Quad City Mallards. Kevin McClelland’s “meat and potatoes” team is nothing fancy. They don’t have a true top-notch sniper on their roster, and they are currently short on defense after Dalton Reum was injured early in Wednesday’s game, but what they do have is a mix of very good players who are proving to themselves that they can work together and come back from being down three goals. That is huge! They have also proved to themselves that with hard work and tenacity that the team can move up in the standings. They’ve earned their hard-won points even when it seemed as if all luck had deserted them. McClelland’s “meat and potatoes” team has nothing terribly fancy about them at all, but they do have a lot of substance.

| Scoring by committee — Wednesday night’s 3 goals in 2 1/2 minutes in the 3rd period comeback started with RG Flath (assisted by J. Walker and E. Meland), then Todd Hosmer (assisted by I. Lowe and K. Miller), and capped off by Ian Duval (assisted by E. Meland and J. Walker). The 3 goals tied the score and sent the game into overtime, earning the Thunder 1 point. Final score was 4-3 Quad City in OT. SOG were 39-29 for Wichita.

Friday night’s goals started with Nikita Karshirsky (unassisted) in the 1st period, then 3 goals in the 3rd beginning with Jared Walker (assisted by D. Gauthier and K. Tulupov), another by Ian Duval (unassisted), and the empty netter by Danick Gauthier (with assists from RG Flath and D. Milan). The Thunder won resoundingly 4-1 vs. Quad City. SOG were 34-27 for Quad City.

For the two nights that is 11 different Thunder players, forwards and defensemen, contributing to goals and assists for the Thunder.

With 34 games played Wichita’s forwards, defensemen and even the goalies have assisted in the scoring this season. Chart based on Goals scored while with the Wichita Thunder so far in 2014-15:

Danick Gauthier F 31 14 16 30
Ian Lowe F 34 12 20 32
Kenton Miller F 34 10 17 27
Todd Hosmer F 34 9 7 16
Nikita Kashirsky F 31 7 8 15
Jared Walker F 34 6 9 15
RG Flath F 28 6 7 13
Erick Lizon F 34 5 6 11
Ian Duval F 20 4 13 17
Mike Wilson D 34 4 10 14
Kirill Tulupov D 25 3 3 6
Eric Meland D 23 2 12 14
Kurtis Bartliff F 15 2 5 7
Kyle Gibbons F 16 2 2 4
Michael Trebish D 33 1 6 7
Dalton Reum D 26 1 1 2
Dan Milan D 34 0 7 7
Tyler Bunz G 13 0 2 2
Tim Boron G 21 0 1 1

| Defensive play, physicality, penalties, hits, blocks:

Under Coach McClelland Wichita has become a strong defensive, physical team, and the team plays much better overall when they can be physical — knocking their opponents off the puck and even off their game with key checks and hits along the boards, and yes, even a fight or two as well. They can agitate, frustrate and irritate other teams into penalties, but that also means they end up in the penalty box on their own as well. With 34 games into the season, Wichita has a total of 655 penalties in minutes (PIM), but they fall about mid-range in the conference and division, by no means landing at the top, nor the bottom. Check out the team’s Penalty Kill percentage below — they currently rank 4th in the entire ECHL, and they have the capability to shut down teams entirely when they are playing well.

The standout defenseman Friday night was Kirill Tulupov who ended the game with an assist on Jared Walker’s goal, a +3 (the only one on the team to have above a +2 for the night) and 3 shots-on-goal. He came very close to scoring several times as well, including when he was released from the penalty box in the 1st period as he grabbed the puck and darted for a breakaway. Unfortunately the play was whistled dead since the on-ice officials decided he had been released from the penalty box too soon, basing their decision on the arena clock which was off slightly, preventing Wichita from a great scoring opportunity.

| Powerplay and Penalty Kill at 34 Games: Wichita’s PP and PK have been very good this season. Earlier in the season the Thunder’s highest PP% hit 20.3, but now stands at a 16.3% success rate. The highest the team’s PK% has been is 87.6, but currently it just stands slightly below that at 87.2% success rate.

In Wednesday’s game the Thunder only allowed Quad City to capitalize on 1 of their 7 powerplay opportunities, and Friday night the Thunder did not allow Quad City any room to capitalize on their 7 powerplays. Unfortunately, the Thunder’s powerplay opportunities for both Wednesday (5 PP) and Friday (6 PP) passed without any success. This will need to be addressed very quickly since this is a key factor in this team’s success.

16 Wichita Thunder 34 153 25 16.3 3
4 Wichita Thunder 34 148 19 87.2 2

| Goaltenders: Tim Boron was in goal for the Thunder on Wednesday with the loss in overtime, his second overtime loss of the season, stopping 25 of 29 shots.  Tyler Bunz was in net on Friday to capture the win 4-1 for the Thunder, his 5th win of the season, stopping 33 of 34 shots on goal.

Tyler Bunz: Ranked 4th in the league: 5-7-0-1. GAA: 2.44 — SAV%: 0.910

Tim Boron: Ranked 15th in league: 12-4-2-2. GAA: 2.63 — SAV%: 0.902

| Team Standings:

Wichita is currently standing in 2nd in the Central Division with 40 points, just one point in front of the Mallards and 9 points behind the Allen Americans who sit at the top of the Western Conference. Overall, Wichita is ranked 5th in the Western Conference at 17-11-2-4 (40 points).


| Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 — Quad City wins 4-3 in OT

| Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 — Wichita wins 4-1

The Wichita Thunder will host the Evansville IceMen tonight at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 5:05 p.m.