Here are the particulars on the Thunder’s next player, according to coach Kevin McClelland:
"He’s going to be wearing a Thunder jersey," McClelland said. "He’s a good player."
Whether the player satisfies the intrigue of that cryptic statement remains to be seen. McClelland said on Tuesday that the move will happen "in the next couple days," meaning he could suit up Wednesday night when Wichita meets Bloomington at Intrust Bank Arena.
Speculation has already begun that the Thunder is bringing back one of last season’s stars, either Alex Bourret or Matt Robinson, the odd man out with Alaska of the ECHL. Bourret’s skills would match the needs of the Thunder, which needs a physical presence and a scorer.
But chances are it won’t be Bourret or Robinson coming to Wichita this week; the team has seemingly passed on the perpetually available Bourret and Robinson is still tied to his ECHL team while his CHL rights are owned by the Thunder.
Scoring has been indentified at Wichita’s most glaring weakness. Before Tuesday’s game at Missouri, Wichita has averaged 5 1/2 goals in five wins, scoring six or more four times. In six losses, including two shootout defeats, the Thunder has averaged just better than two goals.
"Inconsistency in the scoring department," McClelland said when asked if he’s looking to upgrade any specific area. "We’ll score eight, score six, then lose games 1-0 or in shootouts in games we’re outshooting teams."
A stretch of three losses in four games may have accelerated McClelland’s impatience, but he’s on the lookout for improvements whether the Thunder is on a winning streak or a losing streak.
Adding a physical presence could also help the Thunder. With Dustin Donaghy out due to injury, Erick Lizon and Aaron Boogaard are Wichita’s only heavy hitters. Their shifts, however, are sporadic, and no one on Wichita’s first three lines gives the team a physical edge.
"We always want to have an abrasive hockey club that makes the other team pay the price," McClelland said. "But with the way the game is called, you have to watch what you’re doing in that aspect."
Wichita 3, Missouri 2
First period – 1, Wichita, Hanson (Young, Lutz) (pp) 10:17. Penalties — Pierce, M, (slashing) 10:04; Tochkin, M (roughing) 12:15; Flath, W (tripping) 17:54. Second period — 2, Missouri, Pierce (Smith, Kell) 16:28. 3, Wichita, Painchaud (Lowe) 16:54. Penalties — Reaney, W (boarding) 3:17; Young, W (elbowing) 3:59; Tochkin, M (too many men) 6:01; Tochkin, M (cross checking) 8:17. Third period — 4, Missouri, Tochkin (Miller) :21. 5, Wichita, Lowe (Painchaud, Trimm) 9:34. Penalties — Martens, W, (holding) 2:28.
Shots on Goal — Wichita 11-10-4 — 25, Missouri 11-6-9 — 26. Powerplays — Wichita 1 for 4; Missouri 0-4. Goalies saves — Wichita, Jung 26 shots, 24 saves; Missouri, Clemente 25-22. Referee — Kevin Curtis. Linesmen — Ryan Madsen, Jordan Crowell. Time — 2:30. A — 5,172.