WICHITA, Kan. – Bruce Ramsay will open his fourth training camp as Wichita Thunder head coach tomorrow morning. This one will be jam-packed with players he signed through the offseason, and will have some faces coming from San Jose, too.
Joining Evan Buitenhuis, Billy Constantinou, Barrett Kirwin, and Brayden Watts – who were released from their tryouts with the Barracuda – is goaltender Zachary Emond, along with forwards Mark Liwiski, Mitchell Russell, and Timur Ibragimov.
The 22-year-old Emond is in the final year of his entry-level contract with the Sharks, according to CapFriendly, and has had his share of struggles since breaking into the pro ranks. Last season, he played 13 games with the Orlando Solar Bears, going 6-4-1-0 with a 3.67 goals against average and a .879 save percentage. Pending injuries or call-ups above, Emond will be the second goaltender for Wichita this season behind Buitenhuis.
Liwiski just turned 21 years old and will be making his professional debut with Wichita this season. The rookie is coming off a successful final season with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets, posting 46 points (24G, 22A) in 63 games to go with 110 penalty minutes. Overall, he played in 204 regular season games over five seasons, lit the lamp 52 times and had 44 assists for 96 points and 340 penalty minutes.
Like Liwiski, Mitchell Russell will also make his professional debut with Wichita this season. In the first year of his three-year entry-level contract, according to CapFriendly, Russell is coming off two successful seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion. In those two seasons, the COVID-shortened season of 2019-20 and 2021-22, he combined for 62 goals and 68 assists (130 points) in 115 games. In last season’s OHL playoffs, he piled up 22 points (11G, 11A) in 11 contests. Overall, for his five seasons in the OHL, the 21-year-old forward scored 78 goals and collected 83 assists for 161 points in 239 games played.
Ibragimov was taken in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL Draft after a successful teenage career in Russia, and like Emond, is in the final year of his entry-level contract, according to CapFriendly. He has struggled to find his game here in North America, with just two points, one goal and one assist, to go with a minus-6 in 26 games played.
Additional player movement is possible in the days ahead.
Also today, the team announced its training camp roster. In addition to the players coming from San Jose, the Thunder will have 16 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goaltenders on the ice when camp kicks off. Of those 29 players, eight of them are rookies, with just one veteran – Stefan Fournier. The camp roster will also feature seven players who finished the 2021-22 season with Wichita, including Jay Dickman, who signed with the team last week.
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