2022-23 Thunder Year in Review
WICHITA, Kan. - The 2022-23 season for the Wichita Thunder came to an end on Saturday, April 15 in a shootout loss to Allen. Let's take a look back at some of the highlights from this past year.
The Thunder got off to a great start, winning seven of their first 10 games. At the beginning of January, Wichita was 20-11-3 after a shootout win on January 8 against Tulsa at the BOK Center.
Things started to go downhill at the end of January after the Thunder dropped three-straight to Idaho. Wichita went on to lose 14 of its next 17 games.
Despite the midseason struggles, The Thunder won six of their last 11 and took three of a possible four points during the last weekend of the season. Unfortunately, Wichita came up just short of making it to the postseason.
Several players made significant strides throughout the year. The Thunder finished with five players over 60 points and 20 or more goals. It was just the fifth time in team history that the franchise saw five 20-goal scorers in a season and the first time since 2012-13. Michal Stinil (31), Jay Dickman (26), Brayden Watts (23), Quinn Preston (23) and Peter Bates (22) each hit the 20-goal plateau.
Representing the Thunder at the 2023 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic on January 16 in Norfolk, Virginia was Watts. He had a career year, tallying 63 points (23g, 40a) in 50 games, which was a 17-point increase from a year ago in two less games. Watts was named as the team's Most Valuable Player.
Stinil had one of the biggest increases in team history in terms of points. He finished with 79 points (31g, 48a), a 49-point increase from his rookie season a year ago. He finished eighth in the league in scoring and third in power play assists (24).
Cole MacDonald finished fifth in voting for the ECHL Defenseman of the Year Award. The Wetaskiwin, Alberta native was acquired off of waivers from the Florida Everblades in early November and was inserted quickly into the lineup. He finished tied for first in scoring by a defenseman (54), first in assists (43), tied for first in power play goals by a defenseman (7), first in power play assists for a defenseman (27) and first in power play points by a defenseman (34). MacDonald was named as the team's Defenseman of the Year.
Dickman set a new career-high in points and goals this season. He registered 26 goals and 61 points to jump over his totals from a year ago. The fourth-year pro also appeared in his 200th ECHL game and tallied his 100th assist this season. Dickman earned the Fan's Choice Award.
Preston became a critical part of the team's offense after coming over from Toledo. He finished with 61 points, sixth in rookie scoring and was second for all rookies with 13 power play goals. Preston was awarded the team's Rookie of the Year.
Bates got red hot in early February and finished with 22 goals. On February 4, he notched his pro hat trick against Rapid City. He tallied 15 of his 22 goals after his monster game against the Rush, including goals in seven of his last nine outings. Bates claimed the team's Most Improved Player Award.
The Thunder special teams were solid all season long. Wichita finished second at home on the power play, going 42-for-156 (26.9%) and seventh overall (21.4%). On the penalty kill, the Thunder were 127-for-147, good for a 86.4% kill rate at home. Overall, Wichita finished second in the league (84.8%).
Head Coach Bruce Ramsay set two personal milestones this past season. He coached in his 1,000th game as a head coach and won his 500th game.
Off the ice, Wichita fans started to make their way back to the arena. The Thunder had two crowds over 10,000 in the last month of the season. The team also held their fourth largest crowd in franchise history on April 14 when 12,459 came out to see Wichita knock off the Allen Americans.
Season tickets for the 2023-24 season are on sale now. Get our Tax Day Sale, which ends at the end of April.
Images from this story
Wichita Thunder gather following a victory
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