|Founded||1992 (in the CHL)|
|Home arena||Intrust Bank Arena|
|General manager||Joel Lomurno|
|Head coach||Bruce Ramsay|
|Media|| The Wichita Eagle |
|Affiliates|| San Jose Sharks (NHL)|
San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
|Regular season titles||3 (1993–94, 1994–95, 2011–12)|
|Conference titles||2 (1997–98, 2011–12)|
|Ray Miron President's Cup||2 (1993–94, 1994–95)|
The Wichita Thunder are a minor league hockey team based in Wichita, Kansas. The team played in the Central Hockey League from 1992 until 2014, and then in the ECHL since the 2014–15 season. From 1992 until December 2009, the Thunder played in the Britt Brown Arena located in the northern Wichita suburb of Park City. In January 2010 (the second half of the 2009–10 season), the team began playing its home games at the newly built Intrust Bank Arena. The Thunder are currently the ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
The Thunder was one of the first six original teams of the second iteration of the Central Hockey League, along with the Oklahoma City Blazers, Tulsa Oilers, Memphis RiverKings, Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire. Wichita played its first home game at Britt Brown Arena on November 4, 1992, in front of a crowd of 5,486. In the same season, the Thunder had its first sellout in team history when the crowd of 9,686 fans watched the Thunder defeat Oklahoma City 4–3.
The Thunder was originally coached by Gary Fay, but after a 6–20 start, he was replaced by Doug Shedden. The season was quickly turned around by Shedden, and it finished its first season with a 25–32–2 record. On April 5, 1993, the Thunder goaltender Robert Desjardins was named the first CHL Rookie of the Year. In the following two seasons, the Thunder was the regular season champion (Adams Cup) and playoff champion (William Levins Memorial Cup). Ron Handy was the Playoff Most Valuable Player for both seasons and was the only player in Central Hockey League history to win the award on multiple occasions. In the 1993–94 season, Doug Shedden won the Coach of the Year award, Robert Desjardins won the Regular Season Most Valuable Player award and Paul Jackson won the Scoring Champion award.
On May 14, 1995, Shedden resigned to become coach of the Louisiana IceGators of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Don Jackson was hired as the new head coach on July 21, 1995. He led the Thunder to a 22–39–3 record and missed the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. On July 19, 1996, Jackson resigned to become head coach of the Kansas City Blades of the International Hockey League (IHL). Jackson was replaced by Bryan Wells to become the Thunder's fourth head coach in franchise history. Wells wento on to coach the Thunder for five seasons, making the playoffs in four out of the five seasons he coached. On May 2, 2001, Wells was dismissed as head coach.
After the dismissal of Wells, the Thunder announced that James Latos would be the new head coach. In Latos' first season coaching, the team went 24–34–6 and was out of the playoffs. Latos was fired the following season after a disappointing start of 8–19–7. Five days after his dismissal, the Thunder announced that Derek Laxdal would become the team's new head coach. Laxdal went on to coach the Thunder for two seasons to an 87–58–8 record while securing two separate playoff places. On August 3, 2005, Laxdal announced his resignation to become the head coach of the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads.
Mark French took over as head coach from 2005 to 2007. During his tenure, he compiled a record of 70–59–16. He was fired mid-season in December 2007 with a 4–13 record. He went on to become the assistant coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears and the following season took them to a championship as head coach. The Thunder then named former player Rob Weingartner to lead the team. Weingartner played for the Thunder from 1992 to 1996 when he was a member of two championship teams. Weingartner compiled a record of 16–29–2 during his tenure. He has since become the head coach of the Western States Hockey League's Wichita Jr. Thunder.
Brent Bilodeau was hired during the 2008 off-season and lead the team for two seasons and a record of 22–48–0. He was fired early in his second season and became the assistant coach of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans for two seasons. After the Thunder fired Bilodeau nine games into the 2009–10 season, Jason Duda was given the job on an interim basis while on injured reserve. Duda owns several franchise records from his Thunder career, scoring 870 points in 14 seasons. He finished the season with a 7–43–5 record became an assistant coach under the next head coach, Kevin McClelland.
On October 7, 2014, soon before the 2014–15 CHL season was set to begin, it was announced that the Central Hockey League had ceased operations and the Thunder, along with the Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Quad City Mallards, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush and Tulsa Oilers, were all approved for membership into the ECHL for the 2014–15 season.The team finished fifth out of seven teams in the Central Division, scoring 73 points out of 144.
On April 16, 2016, the Thunder announced that the team would not renew McClelland's contract for the 2016–17 season. He had been with the Thunder since 2010 and guided the team for six seasons becoming the longest tenured coach in Thunder history, leading the team for 408 games. During his time in Wichita, McClelland compiled a record of 194–166–48, earning a playoff spot in his first season and taking the team to the playoff finals in the following two seasons while still in the CHL. However, he failed to lead the team into the ECHL playoffs in his two seasons leading the team in the ECHL and the Thunder finished last in the overall standings in the 2015–16 season.
Malcolm Cameron was announced as the new head coach on May 20, 2016.One of his stated intentions in his opening press conference was to establish the Thunder's first NHL affiliation for the upcoming season. On July 4, 2016, the Ottawa Senators' assistant general manager, Randy Lee, said that his team was in negotiations for an affiliation with the Thunder for the 2016–17 season. The affiliation with the Senators and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, was finally confirmed on July 14. After one season, the Thunder changed affiliations to the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and Bakersfield Condors (AHL). After three seasons, and one playoff appearance, Cameron was not offered an extension.
On May 15, 2019, the Thunder announced that the former Tulsa Oilers' head coach Bruce Ramsay would be Cameron's replacement.
|Season||GP||W||L||T||OTL||SOL||Pts||GF||GA||PIM||Standing||Year||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||Finals|
|1992–93||60||25||33||—||0||2||52||242||320||1876||6th of 6, CHL||1993||—||Did not qualify|
|1993–94||64||40||18||6||—||—||86||309||275||2522||1st of 6, CHL||1994||—||W, 4–3, DAL||W, 4–0, TUL|
|1994–95||66||44||18||4||—||—||92||320||268||2513||1st of 7, CHL||1995||—||W, 4–1, OKC||W, 4–2, SA|
|1995–96||64||22||39||—||—||3||47||270||380||2304||6th of 6, CHL||1996||—||Did not qualify|
|1996–97||66||25||31||—||—||10||60||279||324||2660||4th of 5, Western Div.||1997||—||OKC||L, 1–4, FTW||—|
|1997–98||70||35||31||—||—||4||74||302||303||2321||2nd of 5, Western Div.||1998||—||W, 3–2, TUL||W, 4–3, OKC||L, 0–4, COL|
|1998–99||70||34||26||—||—||10||78||257||262||2158||3rd of 6, Western Div.||1999||—||L, 1–3, SA||—||—|
|1999–00||70||37||26||—||—||7||81||245||231||2049||2nd of 6, Western Div.||2000||—||L, 2–3, OKC||—||—|
|2000–01||70||30||32||—||—||8||68||251||251||2418||5th of 6, Western Div.||2001||—||Did not qualify|
|2001–02||64||24||34||—||—||6||54||203||262||1913||3rd of 4, Northwest Div.||2002||—||Did not qualify|
|2002–03||64||21||36||—||5||2||49||216||261||1837||4th of 4, Northwest Div.||2003||—||Did not qualify|
|2003–04||64||35||24||—||1||4||75||194||197||1558||2nd of 5, Northwest Div.||2004||—||W, 3–1, COL||L, 1–4, BS||—|
|2004–05||60||40||17||—||2||1||83||210||158||1784||2nd of 4, Northwest Div.||2005||—||W, 4–3, BS||L, 2–4, COL||—|
|2005–06||64||38||18||—||4||4||84||233||200||1841||2nd of 4, Northwest Div.||2006||—||L, 1–4, BS||—||—|
|2006–07||64||28||28||—||0||8||64||191||213||1841||3rd of 4, Northwest Div.||2007||L, 2–4, BS||—||—||—|
|2007–08||64||20||42||—||1||1||42||156||247||1905||5th of 5, Northwest Div.||2008||Did not qualify|
|2008–09||64||20||41||—||2||1||43||168||230||1419||4th of 4, Northwest Div.||2009||Did not qualify|
|2009–10||64||9||50||—||1||4||23||128||257||1354||7th of 7, Northern Conf.||2010||Did not qualify|
|2010–11||66||34||26||—||2||4||74||249||231||1189||5th of 9, Turner Conf.||2011||L, 2–3, MO||—||—||—|
|2011–12||66||44||19||—||1||2||91||231||181||1077||1st of 7, Berry Conf.||2012||—||W, 4–1, RGV||W, 4–2, TEX||L, 1–4, FW|
|2012–13||66||39||19||—||2||6||86||240||182||1106||2nd of 10, CHL||2013||—||W, 4–0, ARZ||W, 4–0, FTW||L, 3–4, ALN|
|2013–14||66||27||30||—||4||5||63||201||223||973||9th of 10, CHL||2014||—||Did not qualify|
|2014–15||72||32||31||—||2||7||73||213||240||1508||5th of 6, Central Div.||2015||Did not qualify|
|2015–16||72||18||41||—||7||6||49||150||240||1152||4th of 4, Central Div.||2016||Did not qualify|
|2016–17||72||21||44||—||6||1||49||189||278||1291||7th of 7, Central Div.||2017||Did not qualify|
|2017–18||72||34||30||—||6||2||76||222||235||1091||4th of 7, Mountain Div.||2018||L, 2–4, COL||—||—||—|
|2018–19||72||29||31||—||9||3||70||224||251||1286||5th of 7, Mountain Div.||2019||Did not qualify|
|2019–20||62||24||30||—||8||0||56||181||233||794||6th of 7, Mountain Div.||2020||Season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|2020–21||71||41||22||—||6||2||90||218||190||985||2nd of 7, Western Conf.||2021||—||L, 2–3, FW||—||—|
|2021–22||72||27||36||—||9||0||63||202||258||1062||7th of 7, Mountain Div.||2022||Did not qualify|
|12||Peter Bates||F||L||26||2022||Evanston, Illinois||Thunder|
|19||Kelly Bent||C||L||27||2022||Halifax, Nova Scotia||Thunder|
|30||Evan Buitenhuis||G||L||29||2022||Burlington, Ontario||Thunder|
|21||Jay Dickman ( A )||C||L||29||2022||St. Paul, Minnesota||Thunder|
|44||Dominic Dockery||D||L||26||2022||Lockport, New York||Thunder|
|1||Zach Emond||G||L||22||2022||St. Cyprien, Quebec||Sharks|
|28||Dillon Hamaliuk||LW||L||22||2022||Leduc, Alberta||Sharks|
|7||Kenneth Hausinger||F||R||27||2022||Anchorage, Alaska||Thunder|
|6||Zack Hoffman||D||R||24||2022||Newcastle, Ontario||Thunder|
|16||Timur Ibragimov||LW||L||22||2022||St. Petersburg, Russia||Sharks|
|20||Mark Liwiski||C||L||21||2022||Dauphin, Manitoba||Barracuda|
|26||Cole MacDonald||D||L||27||2022||Wetaskiwin, Alberta||Thunder|
|2||Dylan MacPherson ( C )||D||R||24||2022||Redcliff, Alberta||Abbotsford|
|55||Chris McKay||D||R||26||2022||Edmonton, Alberta||Thunder|
|43||Quinn Preston||F||R||25||2022||Trenton, Michigan||Thunder|
|3||Kyle Rhodes||D||R||25||2022||Ashburn, Virginia||Thunder|
|25||Sam Sternschein||LW||R||24||2022||Syosset, New York||Thunder|
|22||Michal Stinil||LW||L||23||2021||Decin, Czech Republic||Thunder|
|42||Brett Van Os||LW||L||26||2023||St. Albert, Alberta||Thunder|
|83||Jake Wahlin||LW||L||26||2022||St. Paul, Minnesota||Thunder|
|24||Connor Walters||D||R||25||2022||Welland, Ontario||Thunder|
|29||Brayden Watts ( A )||RW||R||23||2020||Bakersfield, California||Thunder|
List of Wichita Thunder alumni who played more than 25 games in Wichita and 25 or more games in the National Hockey League.
The following lists the league awards which have been won by the Thunder team and its players.
Most Valuable Player
Coach of the Year
General Manager of the Year
Community Service Award
Coach of the Year
Playoff Most Valuable Player
Most Outstanding Defenseman
Rick Kozuback Award
Rookie of the Year
All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (North)
The ECHL is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and Canada. It is a tier below the American Hockey League (AHL).
The Central Hockey League (CHL) was a North American mid-level minor professional ice hockey league which operated from 1992 until 2014. It was founded by Ray Miron and Bill Levins and later sold to Global Entertainment Corporation, which operated the league from 2000 to 2013, at which point it was purchased by the individual franchise owners. As of the end of its final season in 2014, three of the 30 National Hockey League teams had affiliations with the CHL: the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Idaho Steelheads are an American professional minor league ice hockey team based in Boise, Idaho, and a member of the ECHL. The Steelheads play in the Mountain Division of the ECHL's Western Conference since the 2016–17 season. In 1996, the Steelheads were announced as a 1997–98 expansion team by Diamond Sports Management, headed by Cord Pereira, as a member of the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL). The Steelheads and the rest of the WCHL joined the ECHL in 2003. As of 2021, the Steelheads are the westernmost ECHL team. During the 2003–04 season and since the 2005–06 season the Steelheads have been an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars. The Austin-based Texas Stars have been the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate since the 2009–10 season. Home games are played at the 5,002-seat Idaho Central Arena in downtown Boise.
The Reading Royals are a professional ice hockey team that currently plays in the ECHL. The team participates in the North Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The Royals play their home games at the Santander Arena located in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania.
The Tulsa Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and play in the ECHL. The Oilers played their home games at the Tulsa Convention Center until 2008 when they moved into the new BOK Center. For many years, the Tulsa Oilers name was shared with Tulsa's former minor-league baseball team that pre-dated the Tulsa Drillers. To reduce confusion in local news reporting, the hockey team was often called the "Ice Oilers".
The Elmira Jackals were a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Elmira, New York. They were members of the United Hockey League from 2000 to 2007 and the ECHL from 2007 to 2017. The Jackals played their home games at First Arena.
The Colorado Eagles are a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Loveland, Colorado. The Eagles play in the Pacific Division of the American Hockey League.
The Columbus Cottonmouths were a professional ice hockey team based in Columbus, Georgia. The team is nicknamed the Snakes and played their home games at the Columbus Civic Center. In 2017, the team suspended operations after failing to find a new owner.
The Cincinnati Cyclones are a professional ice hockey team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The team is a member of the ECHL. Originally established in 1990, the team first played their games in the Cincinnati Gardens and now play at Heritage Bank Center. The Cyclones are a minor league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Americans.
Douglas Arthur Shedden is a Canadian ice hockey coach and former player. He played in the National Hockey League between 1981 and 1991. After his playing career he became a coach, and worked in the minor leagues for several years. He coached Team Finland to a bronze medal in 2008 World Championships. Shedden is currently coaching ERC Ingolstadt in the German DEL.
The Texas Stars are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL) based in Cedar Park, Texas, near Austin, with home games at the H-E-B Center. They are owned by the National Hockey League's (NHL) Dallas Stars and are the team's top developmental affiliate.
The Rapid City Rush are a professional ice hockey team in the ECHL based in Rapid City, South Dakota, and play their home games at The Monument. The Rush are currently a minor affiliate of the Calgary Flames NHL franchise.
The Kansas City Mavericks are an ice hockey team in the ECHL. Founded in 2009 as the Missouri Mavericks of the CHL, the team plays in Independence, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, at the Cable Dahmer Arena.
The Allen Americans are a professional ice hockey team headquartered at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center in Allen, Texas, which currently plays in the ECHL. The team was founded in 2009 in the Central Hockey League (CHL) where they played for five seasons, winning the Ray Miron President's Cup twice. The CHL folded in 2014 and the ECHL accepted the remaining CHL teams as members for the 2014–15 season. In their first two seasons in the ECHL, Allen advanced to the Kelly Cup finals, winning the championship in both years. The team is led by President Jonny Mydra and head coach/general manager Chad Costello. Currently, the Americans are affiliated with the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators and the American Hockey League's Belleville Senators.
The Quad City Mallards were a minor league professional ice hockey team based in the Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa that competed in the International Hockey League, Central Hockey League and ECHL. They were named after the Mallards team that played in the United Hockey League from 1995 to 2007, this Mallards franchise marked their debut in 2009 in the International Hockey League. The Mallards played their home games at TaxSlayer Center in Moline, Illinois.
Malcolm "Sweet Daddy Leo" Cameron is a Canadian professional ice hockey coach. He coached several ECHL teams, including the Long Beach Ice Dogs, Texas Wildcatters, Florida Everblades, Elmira Jackals, and Wichita Thunder. Cameron was also the head coach of the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League.
The Brampton Beast were a professional ice hockey team based in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. The team originally played in the Central Hockey League for one year during the 2013–14 season prior to the league's folding before joining the ECHL from 2014 to 2020. The Beast played their home games at the CAA Centre. The team was one of only two ECHL members located in Canada, along with the Newfoundland Growlers, from 2018 to 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beast voluntarily suspended operations through at least the 2020–21 ECHL season, then ceased operations entirely.
The 2013–14 CHL season was the 22nd season of the Central Hockey League (CHL). It was the last season of the CHL, as the league ceased operations in October 2014 after only seven teams remained. Allen, Brampton, Missouri, Quad City, Rapid City, Tulsa, and Wichita were accepted as expansion teams into the ECHL.
Troy Schwab is a Canadian former professional ice hockey center, who played in the ECHL and the Central Hockey League. He is currently an assistant coach for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits.
The 2014–15 ECHL season was the 27th season of the ECHL. The regular season schedule ran from October 17, 2014, to April 11, 2015, with the Kelly Cup playoffs following. Twenty-eight teams in 20 states and one Canadian province each played a 72-game schedule. Ten days prior to the start of the season, the league was significantly expanded on October 7, 2014, after the ECHL had accepted the Central Hockey League's remaining seven teams as members for the 2014–15 season.