WICHITA, Kan. – Just five games into the 2019-20 season there are already two distressing offensive trends for the Wichita Thunder. One, the offense has managed to put up more than 35 shots in a game one time and is next-to-last in the league with an average of 27.4 shots per game (they have a total of 137 shots on goal in 309 minutes played this season). The other is on the man-advantage, which is operating at a paltry 9.5 percent clip (2-21 so far), which is sixth-worst in the league.
There has been some shuffling of the roster out in Bakersfield — leading to the additions of Jakob Stukel and Nolan Vesey to the Thunder lineup — the players signed by head coach Bruce Ramsay haven’t been getting it done on the offensive end.
With the Thunder in the middle of a stretch where they play once in 12 days, on Thursday, Ramsay looked to change that, with the signing of veteran Jack Combs. The 10-year veteran joins the Wichita Thunder after spending three years in Europe, with the German DEL and the Swiss NLB leagues.
Combs’ best season came in 2010-11, when he racked up 82 points (40G, 42A) in 64 games with the then-Ramsay led Tulsa Oilers in the former Central Hockey League. From there, he graduated up to the ECHL/AHL, spending the next three seasons bouncing back and forth between the two leagues.
He was named an ECHL All-Star in 2014-15 with the Allen Americans, during which time he posted 56 points (22G, 34A) in just 32 games.
Combs is an immediate boost to the Thunder offense. First, Combs will fire more shots on net, with 743 recorded shots in 205 ECHL games (averaging more than 3.5 shots per game). On special teams, 30 of his 127 ECHL goals (23.6%,) have come on the man-advantage. With playmakers like Steven Iacobellis, Chris Crane, Stukel, and Jordan Sims having a shooter like Combs on the ice will buoy the power-play. Finally, for a team that is still really young, Combs is another veteran voice in the room.
Wichita returns home after a three-game road trip tomorrow night to host the Idaho Steelheads for the final game of their three-game mini-series. Face-off is set for 7:05 pm at INTRUST Bank Arena, but Matthew Will and I will have The Sin Bin Pregame Show starting at 6:30 pm, exclusively on The Sin Bin app.
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