Minor League teams are always at the mercy of their higher league teams, even an ECHL team with an assigned goaltender such as the Wichita Thunder and goaltender Tyler Bunz. That is how the entire NHL North American hockey development system works and it can work very well for the NHL teams and their developmental organizations. However it does not necessarily work to the best advantage of some individual players.
Edmonton Oiler’s prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz was called up to the Oklahoma City Barons on February 10, 2015, and his last game with the Wichita Thunder had taken place on January 31st. The Barons did not put Bunz in any game at all until last night (March 4) which sadly did not serve Bunz or the team very well. Last week OKC’s Coach Fleming had stated that he had intended to play Bunz last weekend however that never happened. Last night was Bunz’s first AHL game this season and if you are wondering when his last AHL game took place, that would be just over one year ago on March 2, 2014.
Last night the OKC Barons were shellacked by the Grand Rapid Griffins and after allowing four goals OKC pulled their primary goaltender Laurent Brossoit and turned to Tyler Bunz who had a rough time of it. The entire OKC Barons team played horribly last night, offense and defense across the board. The boys came out of Grand Rapids with a team minus 30. It was a bloodbath of a game already past redemption by the time Tyler Bunz was sent in unfortunately.
Earlier this week I had predicted this very thing would happen, and this falls straight on the team’s management which I highly suspect to be Oilers’ management, Craig MacTavish. The Oilers-Barons could well have played Bunz for a game or two to better prepare him and to help the team, but instead they chose to ignore a crucial part of their team’s backup plan. What a shame for the OKC Barons, and what a shame for Tyler Bunz!
Interesting study on resting primary goaltenders and using their backups on back-to-back nights: Super 16: Analytics say rest goalies on back-to-backs (Oct. 2014) by Corey Masisak, NHL.com.