Wichita, KS (April 13th) - The Wichita Thunder, proud member of the ECHL and powered by Toyota, handed out their End of the Year Awards on Saturday night as the team closed its inaugural season in the ECHL. Highlighting the ceremony was the selection of Danick Gauthier as Team MVP and Mike Wilson as the Defenseman of the Year.
Awards were handed out to the team's Unsung Hero, Most Improved Player, Community Service, Defenseman of the Year, Lewis Street Glassrattler of the Year and Most Valuable Player. Also honored at the game was the Fan of the Year and a special ceremony highlighting the back-to-back Thunder Championship teams that will be inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame this coming Saturday.
Dan Milan was named as the team's Unsung Hero this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning product had career highs in points (17), assists (16), and penalty minutes (178). Winning the Community Service Award for the third year in a row was RG Flath. The veteran forward donated countless hours of his time going to local schools, participating in handing out teddy bears over the holidays and even donated his hair when the team hit $10K during RACE Charities Night. Kirill Tulupov was named as the team's Most Improved Player. The Moscow, Russia native made significant strides throughout the season and was a deadly threat with his bomb from the blueline.
Mike Wilson was honored as the team's Defenseman of the Year. In his second go-around with the Thunder, he finished third on the team in points (50) and assists (37), tied for third in points by a blueliner in the league and fourth in the league in power play assists (19). Todd Hosmer claimed this year's Lewis Street Glassrattler of the Year. He finished with 43 points (22g, 21a) to go along with 91 penalty minutes.
The Team MVP award was given to Danick Gauthier, who reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career and ended the season with 70 points. He finished with 20 multi-point outings, tied for second in power play goals (12) and second in power play points (27).
The Wichita Sports Hall of Fame announced earlier this year that the 1993-94 and 1994-95 Thunder championship teams are to be inducted into the Hall of Fame under the team category for this year's class. Rob Weingartner, Tom Roulston, Greg Smith, Bobby Desjardins, and Greg Neish represented the two squads while Victor Savage from the HOF presented a special award to them during the on-ice ceremonies. Fan of the year was given to Matthew Osenbaugh, who travels up from Hutchinson for every game.
Season tickets are on sale now. Don't delay! Call the Wichita Thunder office and visit with a season ticket rep today to learn more. Stay up-to-date on all the news during the off-season by visiting www.wichitathunder.com. About the ECHL
The ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 20 states and one Canadian province for its 27th season in 2014-15. There have been 541 players who have started their career in the ECHL have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 29 who made their NHL debuts in the 2013-14 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 26 of the 30 NHL teams in 2013-14, marking the 17th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.