Wichita Thunder

Bilodeau expecting more from Thunder

While it would be an overstatement to call Brent Bilodeau's words a threat, the Wichita Thunder hockey coach certainly sounded a warning.

After what seemed like a strong recruiting effort in the offseason, the Thunder opened the year in surprisingly poor fashion, losing two home games by a combined score of 10-3.

So on Wednesday afternoon, Bilodeau made it clear that the roster isn't settled as the team heads into a three-game, three-night stretch that begins with a home game tonight against Tulsa.

"I've got guys waiting in the wings," he said.

Specifically, there are three players eligible to come off injured reserve next week: rookie forward Chris Trafford, who scored two goals in an exhibition game; forward Brandon Kaleniecki, who scored 65 points in 115 East Coast Hockey League games; and Jordan Little, a big and physical defenseman.

On Thursday, the team signed 6-foot-2 defenseman Jason Woll, a second-year pro.

"We're obviously still trying to find some chemistry and find the right mix of guys," Bilodeau said.

One obvious early concern is the Thunder's lack of offense.

Wichita was last in the Central Hockey League in scoring a year ago and this year's team, which lost 5-0 and 5-3, couldn't muster an even-strength goal over opening weekend. In going 0-2 for the second straight year, the Thunder averaged just 22 shots a game and managed nine third-period shots two in the first game, seven in the second.

"Obviously, it's a concern," Bilodeau said. "We're capable of doing more. I think the key is to keep things simple. We've got good playmakers on the team, some smart players. But in the same sense, you've got to shoot the puck.

"You can't always try to make the pretty plays and the pretty passes. Sometimes, you just need a greasy goal — you take the shot and it goes off somebody's skate or something. But that won't happen unless you shoot the puck."

Note — Tulsa won its opener at Mississippi 6-4 behind a hat trick from Rob Hisey. The Thunder was 7-4 against Tulsa last year.