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Rolling Thunder: League Accolades & Homestand Continues

Photo: Cat Gonzales/The Sin Bin

Rolling Thunder: League Accolades & Homestand Continues

WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder continued their ten-game homestand last week, playing four contests against the Rapid City Rush.

The Past Week:

Four Games vs. Rapid City (2-1-1-0; 5 of 8 possible points gained)

  • Friday, February 26, 2021 – The Thunder opened up the homestand with a back-and-forth game against the Rush. Peter Crinella and Beau Starrett scored the first two goals for Wichita, but the Rush would score the next four goals, taking a 4-2 lead in the third. Crinella scored again, and Anthony Beauregard tied the game with 8:30 left in regulation. Former Thunder defenseman Ian Edmondson scored the game-winner 2:28 into OT to give Rapid City a 5-4 win.
  • Saturday, February 27, 2021 – For the second night in a row, the Thunder scored the opening goal, only to see the Rush rally to take the lead. Stefan Fournier lit the lamp for Wichita near the halfway point of the first. Rapid City would score the next three goals to take a 3-1 lead in the mid-second period. Crinella scored his third goal of the weekend to narrow the lead to 3-2, and the Thunder would get no closer.
  • Sunday, February 28, 2021 – The weekend three-in-three closed with a goaltending clinic by Evan Weninger and a three-point afternoon (2G, 1A) by Beauregard. Weninger carried a shutout bid into the late stages of the third before Andrew Sturtz broke it up. In all, the second-year netminder made 50 stops on the afternoon, a career-high. The Thunder scored two power-play goals for the first time this season, en route to a 3-1 win.
  • Tuesday, March 2, 2021 – Coming back on roughly 48-hours rest, Weninger was not sharp, allowing four goals on 11 shots faced. In relief, Alex Sakellaropoulos held the Rush off the scoreboard and allowed one of the greatest comebacks in team history to take place. The Thunder offense came alive, scoring four times in the final 30 minutes of regulation, twice in 43 seconds, to force overtime. For the second week in a row, Patrik Parkkonen scored the overtime winner. Wichita won 5-4 in OT.

The Pros:

  • Anthony Beauregard remains red-hot for Wichita. Already at an ECHL career-high with 29 points (10G, 19A), he has bagged points in 19 of his last 22 games
  • Dean Stewart is quickly becoming one of the best rookie offensive defensemen in the ECHL. His 14 points (4G, 10A) not only lead team rookie defensemen but is third in the ECHL among all rookies. The 22-year-old defenseman has points in seven of his last eight games and is on a five-game point streak (2G, 6A)
  • The Thunder power play has connected in five of their last 10 games and have improved their conversion percentage from 9.1% in mid-January to 14.4% in early March

The Cons:

  • Wichita allows the most shots in the league, with an average of 36.07/game. The last time they allowed less than 30 shots in a game came on January 9 (22 to KC). The Thunder are outshot 309-229 (-80 shot differential) in the third period
  • Wichita ranks 7th in the ECHL with 126 minor penalties
  • The penalty kill has allowed a goal in four of their last five games

The Stats:

  • Goals: Fournier – 11 (T-12th in ECHL)
  • Assists: Beauregard – 19  (2nd in ECHL)
  • Points: Beauregard – 29 (2nd in ECHL)
  • Plus/Minus: Beauregard +16 (T-2nd in ECHL)
  • Rookie Scoring: Jay Dickman – 21 pts (8G, 13A) (8 goals tied 2nd among ECHL rookies, 13 assists tied for the lead, 21 points is tied for the rookie lead)
  • Goalies: Evan Weninger, 10-3-3-0, 2.74 goals against average, .923 save percentage, 1009 minutes played, and 548 saves made (3rd in wins, 2nd in save percentage, t-9th best goals against average, second-most minutes played, most saves made)
    Alex Sakellaropoulous, 2-1-0-0, 1.51 goals against average, .958 save percentage

The Accolades:

  • Anthony Beauregard was named the ECHL’s Player of the Month and the co-recipient of Plus Performer for February
    • Beauregard posted seven goals and added 11 assists for 18 points, while sharing the league-lead with a +11 rating in 12 games
  • Jay Dickman was named the ECHL’s Rookie of the Month for February
    • The 27-year-old forward posted five goals and added eight assists for 13 points in 13 games during the month

Who’s In, Who’s Out:

  • Announced the signing of rookie defenseman Alex Peters, a third-round draft pick by the Dallas Stars in 2014. He joins the Thunder after a career with St. Mary’s University in Canadian USports. In 2018-19, he was selected to the USports Second All-Star Team after recording 13 points (5G, 8A) in 20 games. He finished his collegiate career with 33 points (9G, 24A) in 51 games over three seasons. The 24-year-old comes with leadership qualities, too, having been named captain in three of his five years in the Ontario Hockey League.

Thunder Players in the AHL:

Currently, there are no players on an NHL/AHL contract on the Thunder roster. We’re dedicating this space for players who played here this year on NHL/AHL contracts. We’ll have their current AHL statline and, in parenthesis, their stats with the Thunder this season:

  1. Gordie Green – TOR – has not played an AHL game this season (5G, 8A, 13 pts, and +3 in 12 games with Wichita)
  2. Jeremy McKenna – TOR – 5 GP, 0G, 2A with Marlies this season (4G, 7A, 11 pts, and +4 in 13 games with Wichita)
  3. Bobby McMann – TOR – 2 GP, no points with Marlies this season (5G, 11A, 16 pts, and +13 in 15 games with Wichita)
  4. Noel Hoefenmayer – TOR – has not played an AHL game this season (2G, 5A, 7 pts, and -2 in 16 games with Wichita)

The Coming Week:

Welcoming the Grizzlies into the Vault:

The Thunder continue the homestand by hosting the Utah Grizzlies for the first time this season. Wichita won two of three games in Utah around Valentine’s Day and will host the Grizzlies six times the rest of the season. So far in the season series, Beauregard and Dickman are the leading scorers with three points each, while Weninger is 2-1-0-0, with a 3.87 goals against average. At home in the last five seasons, Wichita is 5-9-1-0 against Utah.

Sunday Ride with the Mavericks:

Another four-game week comes to a close Sunday when the Thunder host the Kansas City Mavericks for the eighth meeting of the season. Wichita has won six of the seven meetings so far and will play each other 11 more times, including on the regular season’s final night.

Can’t Make it to the Arena?

Tonight and tomorrow night’s game are scheduled for a 7:05 pm puck drop. There won’t be a pregame show tonight, but the show will return tomorrow, starting at 6:30 pm on The Sin Bin app. Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 4:05 pm puck drop, with the pregame show starting at 3:30 pm.

You can listen to every Wichita Thunder game this season on The Sin Bin app.

Around the ECHL:

  • Kansas City travels to Indianapolis to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Fuel tonight
  • It’s the “Battle of Spire” in Rapid City, as the Rush return home to open a three-game set the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, also owned by Spire Hockey, tonight
  • The South Carolina Stingrays look to remain in a playoff position, as they host the Jacksonville Icemen

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Matthew Harding is the Managing Editor for Field Pass Hockey, covers the ECHL and the Wichita Thunder. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHThunder.

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