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Thunder make offensive upgrades

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Sep. 10, 2010, at 12:02 a.m.

The days of the Wichita Thunder's offense being the league's laughingstock are over.

That's the word from the team's confident new coach, Kevin McClelland, who says he has added four players with scoring potential to the quickly expanding roster.

Veteran Brent Cullaton, a three-time Central Hockey League all-star, is the biggest name.

McClelland is extremely high on Bobby Hughes, who impressed in a short stint in Wichita last season.

Chris Falloon, who has averaged nearly a point a game overseas the past two seasons, and the much-travelled Brad Bonello have also been added.

Add in the recent signing of speedy all-star Jesse Bennefield and it certainly appears that an offensive resurgence is on the way for the Thunder, which has finished last in scoring in the CHL the past three seasons.

"All these guys are offensively gifted," McClelland said.

Cullaton, who captained Laredo to President's Cup championships in 2004 and 2006, scored a combined 164 points in 121 games during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

He retired, but returned to Laredo late last season.

"He's a guy who wants to come and try to be a part of a winning team; he wants to play hockey again," McClelland said. "He can score with the best of them."

Despite playing with an injury, Hughes had five goals and four assists in 11 games with Wichita late last season.

"Here's a kid who was playing in the AHL at 19 — that says something," McClelland said. "He should be an impact player at this level."

Playing overseas the past two seasons, the speedy Falloon produced 35 goals and 47 assists in 84 games.

"He's been a scorer at every level he's played at," McCallister said.

Bonello has experience in the AHL, East Coast Hockey League and the CHL.

"He's got an abundance of talent," McClelland said. "He can score with the best of them."

Check Kollen Long's Thunderbolts blog at blogs.kansas.com/thunder. Reach him at klong@wichitaeagle.com.

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