Wichita Thunder

Thunder's league merges with IHL

The Wichita Thunder will play in a larger, more stable league and the team could develop interesting new rivalries.

According to Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno, that will be the result of the merger of the Central Hockey League and the International Hockey League announced Tuesday.

Many details were left unresolved. A news release said that the teams joining the new CHL, divisional alignment and schedules will be discussed at upcoming summer meetings for both leagues.

The CHL finished its 18th season in May with 15 teams. The IHL played its 59th season with seven teams.

Lomurno said he expects the powerhouse Fort Wayne (Ind.) Komets, Quad City (Ill.) Mallards and Bloomington (Ill.) Prairie Thunder to play in the new CHL.

With the possibility of expansion teams joining, the CHL will have 18 to 22 teams next season, Lomurno said.

"This is good for everyone," Lomurno said. "The IHL and the CHL have had some teams drop out over the last few years. When you come together as one like this, you get more teams and more teams can equal more stability.

"If you have 20 teams in 20 good markets, you'll have a real stable league."

The CHL's Corpus Christi and Amarillo teams disbanded after the season and plan to be replaced with junior teams.