The Thunder is last in the ECHL in scoring, next to last in goals allowed and last in power-play efficiency.
Any individual success must fall within that framework, which means the Thunder hasn’t had much of that, either. No Wichita player falls within the top 119 scorers in the 28-team league.
Andy Huff is the Thunder’s leading goal scorer with nine, a title that doesn’t come with a large banner but is a distinction nonetheless. With Wichita sinking further into last place in the Central division, individual achievements may carry more weight.
“Obviously, you want the team to do well, but I’m grateful for the individual success,” said the 23-year-old Huff, playing his first full professional season. “It’s frustrating having the season that we’re having so far, because I think we’re a better team than our record shows.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
The Thunder has lost six straight, its fifth losing streak this season of at least four games.
Ian Lowe leads the Thunder with 20 points and 14 assists, but his minus-24 rating nullifies a significant portion of his productivity. Several Thunder players are far off from career norms and scoring standards reached in the recent past.
“A lot of guys have done well in the past and are kind of just having an off year,” Huff said. “As a team, we just have a little bit of trouble scoring. That just kind of happens. I’ve been on teams in the past where you have the same guys, and you just aren’t exactly clicking.
“… If I had the answer, I’d tell the guys, I’d tell myself how to turn that around. It’s kind of tough. I’m not really sure what is the exact reasoning behind it.”
The Thunder’s scoring issues have affected Huff’s strengths. He established himself as perhaps the team’s best playmaker over the first two months as a pass-first forward who consistently involved his linemates.
Huff, though, has had one assist since late November, a stretch during which he’s scored five goals. The Thunder hasn’t found two reliable forwards to join Huff’s line or any line, though Huff said Wichita’s personnel changes haven’t affected him or the team.
“I mess up plenty, as well, so if a guy misses the net or something like that, I know he’s not doing it intentionally and I’m not worried about it,” Huff said. “I’m not getting mad at anyone else – I make plenty of mistakes myself, so I don’t see it that way.
“You’re grateful when they do make individual plays to get you some points, but it doesn’t affect me mentally when that stuff happens. No one’s doing it on purpose. They’re trying to score as well.”
When a team has played as poorly as the Thunder, players can begin to look out for themselves. Huff hasn’t reached that point, even though personal success could help – at least nominally – rescue a lost season.
“You want the team to do well and you want to contribute to that yourself,” Huff said. “I’ve been doing well and I’ve been lucky enough to play with some players to help me get those points. It’s not fun for me if I’m scoring and we’re still losing. That’s not a fun night for me. It’s a lot more fun if we win and I have no points.”
Allen at Thunder
- When: 7:05 p.m. Friday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: Allen 21-14-2-1, Thunder 9-23-3-4
- Broadcast: wichitathunder.com