Wichita Thunder

Kaleniecki provides boost to anemic Thunder attack

Even though the offense has struggled mightily, Wichita Thunder players have enjoyed productive streaks — Marc Belanger had five goals in two games, Joel Hanson had four goals over four games — only to slide back into the slumps that have plagued the whole team.

So the lesson is clear: When a Thunder player gets hot during this disappointing season, enjoy it.

Today, then, we celebrate Brandon Kaleniecki, a fourth-year pro who has been finding the back of the net frequently lately.

"Kal's been playing very well," interim coach Jason Duda said. "As far as I'm concerned, he's been one of our best players the last four or five games."

Certainly, Kaleniecki has been the most offensive.

Consider that in the past three games the Thunder has scored four goals, and Kaleniecki has three, including two in a 4-2 loss to Rapid City on Tuesday.

A left wing from Michigan, the 5-foot-10 Kaleniecki credits his offensive outburst with health — he's been on injured reserve twice — and his linemates, Jay Henderson and assists leader Glenn Detulleo.

"This is definitely the best I've felt all season, and when you play with guys like Henderson and Detulleo, you're gonna get opportunities," he said.

Kaleniecki will try to extend his strong stretch, and the Thunder hopes to halt a 16-game losing streak, against the expansion Allen Americans tonight in the Kansas Coliseum.

Neither goal will be easily reached, given that Allen is 19-7-2 and second in the Central Hockey League in goals against (2.75).

"Kal's been scoring," Duda said. "We just need to get a little more from everybody else."

A revealing stat for the Thunder, last in the league offensively and defensively, is that only one player has a positive plus-minus rating. It's the hardworking Kaleniecki, who is plus-1 in 15 games.

He also brings intangibles, having played for the University of Michigan in a Frozen Four ("Definitely my career highlight so far," he said) and for playoff teams his first three seasons as a professional.

"He's one of those guys you're comfortable putting in any situation out there," Duda said. "He's not flashy, but he's got a good shot, a knack for the finding the net. He's great on the penalty kill. He's just a good, all-around player."