Wichita Thunder

Kollen Long's CHL report

We're talking here

Wichita Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno said he has had "serious discussions" with two candidates for the vacant coaching position. Lomurno added that both have had success as head coaches.

Now the bad news: For reasons Lomurno would not specify, neither candidate is available to join the Thunder immediately. They could be available later in the season, although Lomurno declined to estimate a timetable.

"So we'll continue to wait on the right person," he said. "As I've said all along, we've got to make sure the person we hire is a perfect fit. We cannot afford to continue losing."

For the first time, Lomurno stressed that he strongly prefers to hire someone with head coaching experience. The Thunder has had poor results with its last two hires, Mark French and Brent Bilodeau, both of whom were assistants.

The Thunder was 2-7 when Bilodeau was fired. Injured Jason Duda took over on an interim basis and, while the team has been more competitive, has gone 1-10-3.

Still, Lomurno defended his decision to fire Bilodeau, an East Coast Hockey League assistant who came highly recommend by former Thunder coach Derek Laxdal.

"I think the team needed a shake-up," Lomurno said. "I stand by the fact that the team, regardless of the number of wins we've gotten, has shown more life. I've been happy with Jason Duda's effort and work ethic and commitment. I hope he can get some wins this week."

SLAPSHOTS

* With a loss at Colorado tonight, the Thunder would tie the franchise record for consecutive losses with 11. Wichita last lost 11 in a row during 1992-93, the franchise's first year.

* Goaltender Tim Boron, who hasn't played since Oct. 30, will be activated on Thursday and is expected to play this weekend, Lomurno said. Boron, 1-2 with a 4.67 goals-against average, has been recovering from off-season surgery on both hips.

* Tickets for games at Intrust Bank Arena will be on sale Friday, perhaps even Thursday, Lomurno said. "The interest in opening night (Jan. 23) has been extraordinary," he said.

* Thunder players on the all-star ballot are forward Glenn Detulleo (team-high 19 points); defenseman Mark Adamek (two goals and five assists on power play); and rookie goalie Scott Campbell (2-11-1, 3.53 GAA). Players were nominated by their teams.

PLUS

When at even strength, the Thunder has outscored opponents 8-3 the past three games.

MINUS

The Thunder is last in the 15-team CHL in the following categories: power play (10 percent), penalty kill (78.4), goals (two per game) and shots (25.4).

TAP OF THE STICK

Marc Belanger broke out of a slump with a hat trick in a loss at Rapid City on Saturday. Belanger's second and third goals came 36 seconds apart.

PENALTY BOX

Once a strength, the Thunder's penalty kill has been awful lately. In two losses to Rapid City over the weekend, the Thunder allowed seven power-play goals.

DEFINING DIGIT

5

Number of games the Thunder has lost by one goal under Duda

HE SAID IT

"Look at what we're doing every game. It's not like we're getting killed and there's no hope. We're there til the end."

—Lomurno

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