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2016-17 Season In Review

Monday, February 1st
2016-17 Season In Review

Wichita, KS (April 13th) - The 25th season of hockey in the Air Capital came to a close this past weekend. The Thunder opened the year with their largest Opening Night crowd in franchise history, entertaining 12,231 fans on October 15th as the Tulsa Oilers came to town. The season finished with 8,000-plus watching the final regular season home game on Sunday afternoon.For the first time in franchise history, the organization became affiliated with an NHL franchise, joining forces with the Ottawa Senators and the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators. 2016-17 saw a dramatic increase of players called up to Binghamton. After having just one call-up in 2015-16, 16 different players earned an opportunity to play at the AHL level.The team got off to a tremendous start, going 7-3-0-0 in their first 10 games. Wichita hit the road in late October and made trips to South Carolina and Atlanta for the first time in franchise history. The Thunder won both games before returning home in the beginning of November to host the Utah Grizzlies, who made their first-ever trip to Wichita. In February, the team traveled to Cincinnati for the first time to take on the Cincinnati Cyclones at US Bank Arena. During that same road swing, the Thunder visited Fort Wayne, which was the first time since the 2011 CHL Finals that the team skated at War Memorial Coliseum against the Komets. Wichita also faced the Toledo Walleye and Greenville Swamp Rabbits for the first-time ever.Chris Rumble and Jack Rodewald began the season on the team's opening night roster, but quickly impressed and were called up in November. Rumble, who spent his first two seasons at the ECHL level, appeared in 55 games for the Senators. He was signed to a two-way, AHL/ECHL deal and spent the majority of the season in the AHL, leading the BSens in scoring by a defenseman with 27 points. Rodewald was signed to an ECHL contract and got off to a hot start in Wichita. He netted eight points (5g, 3a) in six games in a Thunder uniform before being loaned to Binghamton. He flourished with the BSens in the first 25 games and earned an AHL contract as he led the team in goals for much of the season. Rodewald currently has 27 points (18g, 9a) in 64 games in the AHL.Alex Krushelnyski, who was also signed to a two-way, AHL/ECHL deal, was on the Thunder's opening night roster and appeared in six games for Wichita. After recording seven points in just six games, the Colorado College product grabbed his chance to get back to the AHL and played in 43 games for the BSens. He had just six games of AHL experience prior to this season.Other players that saw time this year in the AHL included Ryan Rupert, Chris LeBlanc, Scott Greenham, Alexis Loiseau, James Melindy, Triston Grant, Jamie Doornbosch, Zach O'Brien, Chris Driedger and Matt O'Connor. Melindy earned a chance to finish the season with the San Diego Gulls after leading the Thunder in major penalties and penalty minutes.Three Ottawa Senators' prospects saw time in Wichita this year. Early in the season, Gabriel Gagne was assigned by the Senators after the second weekend. Gagne, a second round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (#36 overall), became the youngest player to ever lace up the skates for the Thunder. He netted 11 points (6g, 5a) in 19 games for Wichita in three different stints with the team. Gagne finished his rookie campaign with 39 games of AHL experience. Macoy Erkamps, who signed an entry-level deal with the Senators, was assigned to the team in October and appeared on the opening night roster. The rookie defenseman from Delta, British Columbia appeared in 58 games for Wichita before finishing the season in the AHL with Binghamton. Vincent Dunn was assigned to the Thunder in late October and appeared in 47 games. The former fifth round pick of the Senators (#138 overall) during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft recorded 12 points (4g, 8a) in his first season in Thunder blue. The 2016-17 campaign also saw several milestones being achieved. Captain Ian Lowe moved into third place all-time in games played in franchise history with 327 games. Only Jason Duda and Travis Clayton have appeared in more games in a Thunder uniform. He also moved into fifth place all-time with 208 points and is one of just six players in team history to hit the 200-point mark. Head Coach Malcolm Cameron moved into sixth place all-time in ECHL history in wins (338) and ninth all-time in games coached (627). He needs five wins next season to surpass Matt Thomas and move into fifth place in league history in wins. Despite finishing under .500, the loyal fans of Thunder Nation continued to support the team. Wichita drew crowds of 5,000 or more 11 times this season including back-to-back crowds on February 10th and 11th that were a combined 12,698 in attendance. The season was capped off with 8,499 fans on Sunday afternoon, which was the second-highest during the course of the year.The entire Wichita Thunder organization would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support during our 25th anniversary campaign and can't wait to get back on the ice when the puck drops in October.Contact a Thunder representative at the office today to learn more about our great season, group and other ticket package opportunities!Follow along with us on our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter (@wichita_thunder), Snapchat (wichthunder), Instagram (Wichita_Thunder) and LinkedIn, presented by Wichita Brewing Company.