Lowe plays to power
Ian Lowe calls himself limited in skill and it doesn’t take his self-description to figure out that his size — 5-foot-9, 175 pounds — isn’t his strongest asset, either. To offset his deficiencies, the Thunder forward learned early the importance of developing a niche.
For Lowe, it’s production on the power play. Among a group of high-scoring Thunder forwards, it wouldn’t be difficult to get lost. That hasn’t happened to Lowe, who stands out because of his special-teams abilities. Ten of his 21 points have come from six goals and four assists on the power-play.
The extra-man opportunities suit Lowe’s game perfectly. He’s a cerebral player with an aggressive approach toward scoring chances, and the freedom allowed forwards in the Thunder’s power play seems tailor-made for Lowe’s strengths.
"Especially on the power play, you get an extra couple seconds with the puck," Lowe said. "When you get that extra time, you’ve got to make sure you do your best at that. Having the extra couple seconds really helps out."
Wichita has several capable power-play scorers. Among them are Neil Trimm and Chad Painchaud, Lowe’s linemates for most of the season, who have combined for 12 power-play points.
Lowe’s six goals in those situations are tied for the league lead and have come as a result of his specialized skills. He has a minus-1 rating largely because he’s frequently on the ice for the Thunder’s penalty kills, but he makes up for that with goals when Wichita needs them the most.
Lowe’s traits were honed in college, when he developed a strong special-teams game, and have continued into his professional career, where he’s been a sought-after player despite opportunities cut short in the ECHL and American Hockey League.
"I kind of pride myself on working hard and outwork guys rather than out-skill them," Lowe said. "I’m not the most skilled guy out there, but I try to work hard and try to out-will guys out there."
Lowe’s diminutive size suggest a player who uses shiftiness and cunning to get to the goal. While those are part of Lowe’s game, he plays with a physicality that belies his compactness.
Last weekend Lowe delivered a booming hit in the corner against Tulsa and he never shies from contact. Part of that ideal comes from Lowe’s desire to prove that his size doesn’t dictate the way he plays.
"I’d love to be 6-foot-2 or -3, even 6-foot would be nice," Lowe said. "You get a little more strength and your reach is a little bit longer. But you’ve got to play with what you’ve got. I wasn’t blessed with a lot of height, so you’ve just got to work a little harder and do things a little differently when you’re a little smaller than the average hockey player.
"The way I play is to get in there and don’t let guys push you around so they know they can’t do that all the time. I’ve always been the smaller guy out there, so it’s hard work and a will to beat somebody that’s a little bigger than you and let them know that they’re not going to push you around just because you’re a little smaller."
Slap shots• A night after losing to Allen and falling into second place behind the Americans, Wichita retook the top spot by beating Quad City at home. The Thunder has 30 points, one ahead of Allen, but has played three more games.
• Wichita is the only CHL team to boast five players with 20 points or more. Tulsa has four such players and no other team has more than three. Arizona and Forth Worth have no 20-point scorers.
In Wichita’s 2-1 weekend, three players scored at least two goals in a game. Neil Trimm recorded a natural hat trick Friday, while two goals were notched by Lowe on Saturday and by Les Reaney on Sunday.
In Kevin McClelland’s two-plus seasons as Thunder coach, Wichita has gone 0-7 at Allen. The teams play eight more times this season, four in Allen and four in Wichita.
Tap of the stick
Wichita goalie Kevin Regan was named CHL goalkeeper of the week. Regan won two games to continue a recent hot streak. He’s 6-1-1 in his last eight games with a 1.72 goals-against average. Regan also won the award in the first week of November.
A good cause
The Thunder’s annual teddy bear toss happens Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena. Fans are encouraged to bring new stuffed animals to toss on the ice after Wichita’s first goal against Tulsa. The team collected nearly 1,700 stuffed animals last year.
The number of game-winning goals by Thunder forward Matt Summers this season, leading the CHL.
He said it
"It was really deflating, then we’ve got to hop on a bus and play a game earlier than we’re used to. It was a big win for us. We’re a couple games ahead of Allen, but it still gets us back in first place. You’re going to lose, but being able to bounce back shows your character as a team.”
—Thunder defenseman Travis Wight on Wichita rebounding from Saturday’s loss at Allen by beating Quad City at home on Sunday afternoon