Thunder coach Malcolm Cameron has an easy answer for how to emotionally handle the in-season departures that are certainties for NHL-affiliated hockey teams.
“You can’t coach the players you don’t have,” Cameron said.
The Double-A Thunder saw three players promoted this week to Binghamton, the Triple-A American Hockey League affiliate to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
Cameron’s attitude guards against attachment to a particular makeup, but the Thunder appears to possess an even more effective form of insurance – depth.
During a 3-1 start, four Thunder players have at least four points, and two more have scored two goals. One of those, defenseman Chris Rumble, was called up to Binghamton along with forward Triston Grant and goalkeeper Scott Greenham.
But in outscoring opponents 11-4 since a season-opening defeat, the Thunder has solidified its scoring lines and defensive pairings while seeing little drop-off among them.
“We’ve already lost three guys to call-ups and we have some guys who are banged up, so of course depth plays a huge role,” Cameron said. “It gives other guys a chance to step up and play more of a role in the lineup than maybe they did the first week. It empowers them to hopefully go on to success.”
The Thunder’s depth, or at least its resilience, is showing up late in games. Wichita has led once entering the third period and has two wins and a one-goal loss to show for its other three games.
In road wins over South Carolina and Atlanta last week, the Thunder rallied with three-goal third periods in each game and took 24 of 68 total shots in those final 20 minutes. Nine of Wichita’s 14 goals have come in the third, a result of superior conditioning and an ability from each line to erase deficits.
“It’s good determination that we have from this group – they’re a pretty determined group,” Cameron said. “That’s a great characteristic to have as a hockey player.
“The second thing is, our guys came in tremendous shape, they really did. A lot of guys were in NHL camps, rookie camps, American League camps. So I certainly think the fact that we’re in really good shape has helped immensely.”
Utah at Thunder
- When: 7 p.m. Friday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: Utah 5-2-0-0, Thunder 3-1-0-0
- Broadcast: wichitathunder.com