Wichita, KS (Dec. 18th) - The Wichita Thunder, ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, AHL's Bakersfield Condors, and powered by Toyota, announced today that the team has signed defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst.
"Adding a guy of Gabriel's character and experience at this time of year certainly is an added bonus," stated Head Coach Malcolm Cameron. "He's coming off a championship season. With the number of injuries we have had to a defense core this year, adding another veteran on the back end will certainly make our team defense that much stronger."
Verpaelst, 25, returns to the ECHL after spending the majority of last season with the Colorado Eagles. The Sherbrooke, Quebec native helped lead the Eagles to their second Kelly Cup last year. He recorded the game-winning goal in Game 7 against the Florida Everblades that helped clinch the title. He appeared in 66 contests for the Eagles, collecting 27 points (7g, 20a) and 154 penalty minutes.
"I've had good talks with Malcolm and am happy to join the Thunder," commented Verpaelst. "I wanted to join a team that will make the playoffs and try to win again. At the same time, I wanted to go somewhere that will help me be a better hockey player and move to the next level. I felt that Wichita gave me a chance with the coaching staff to do that. Last year was incredible. We had a great team. It wasn't always easy, but we had one goal and it was to win."
Verpaelst brings 260 games of ECHL experience with him to the Air Capital. He has also played in nine AHL games during his career. He has 90 points (23g, 67a) to go along with 643 penalty minutes over his four-year ECHL career.
Prior to turning pro, he played four years for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He notched 66 points (21g, 45a) and 527 penalty minutes in his junior career.
Wichita returns home tonight to face the Kansas City Mavericks. Tonight is Ugly Christmas Sweater Night. Anyone who wears their best ugly Christmas sweater will get a ticket for just $5. Buy tickets here.
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