WICHITA, Kan. (April 17) – On Friday night, the Thunder announced their annual End of Season Team Awards prior to the team's final regular season home game against the Allen Americans. Below are the winners of each award.
Most improved player: #12 Peter BatesThis award is presented annually to the Thunder player who has made significant strides over the course of the season by improving his overall skill level and making positive contributions to the team. Bates was acquired in the offseason from the Atlanta Gladiators. He has really come into his own over the last two months. Bates has eight goals in his last nine games. He finished fifth in goals with 22.
Unsung Hero Award: #83 Jake WahlinThis award is presented annually to the Thunder player whose efforts don’t go unnoticed by his teammates or the fans. Wahlin was always willing to give 100% no matter what the situation is. He has been an important voice in the locker room and has been a key contributor to the Thunder’s second ranked penalty killing unit.
Community Service Award: #24 Connor WaltersThis award is presented annually to the Thunder player who makes significant contributions to the Thunder organization off the ice by donating his time in the community. Walters always volunteered to participate in events throughout the season. He joined our Director of Community Relations, Angie Smith, at various places like the Humane Society, delivering stuffed animals to the local hospitals to name a few.
Rookie of the Year: #43 Quinn PrestonThis award is presented annually to a Thunder rookie who exemplifies great effort, performance and skill during his first season at the pro level. Preston joined the Thunder in a trade in the offseason and has really made an impact on the Kid Line. He has 61 points in 60 games, which is good for sixth among rookie scorers and second among rookies with 13 power play goals.
Glassrattler of the Year: #20 Mark LiwiskiThis award is presented annually to the Thunder player who provides a physical presence on a nightly basis, whether it’s with a big hit or dropping the gloves. Liwiski leads all rookies in penalty minutes and is third in the league in penalty minutes with 192. He is always willing to get his nose dirty with a big hit or to stand up for a teammate. Liwiski is third in the league with 10 major penalties.
Defenseman of the Year Award: #26 Cole MacDonaldThis award is presented annually to the Thunder defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability at his position, offensively and defensively. MacDonald was picked up after the season started and immediately found a role on the top defense pairing. He has since been named as the team captain and has been impressive quarterbacking the power play. MacDonald finished second in scoring by a defenseman with 54, tied for first for defenseman with seven power play goals, first for defenseman in power play assists with 27 and first for defenseman with 34 power play points.
Toyota Fan of the year: Craig BrewerThis individual has been a positive representation of our fan base since joining as a season ticket holder. He comes to all the events that are held in the community, such as all three Tip the Teams and various Season Ticket Holder parties. He traveled to several away venues to support the team and drives to every home game from Sterling, Kansas. This year’s fan of the year is Craig Brewer.
Fan’s Choice Award: #21 Jay DickmanThis award was started last season to help honor a player who is a favorite of the fans. This year, we let the fans voice their opinion with a vote online earlier in March. Dickman has set new career highs in nearly every category and recently played in his 200th game in the ECHL. He has become the King of Empty Netters, tallying 10 of them in his career.
MVP: #29 Brayden WattsThis award is presented annually to the Thunder player that is determined to be the most valuable to his team. Watts has been improving over the course of his career and was off the best start in his three years before suffering an injury in late January. He has surpassed his career-high in all three categories in just 48 games. Watts was named to the ECHL All Star Team back in January.
Our final special jersey of the season is now live online. Fans can bid on the DASH Auction App, presented by J.P. Weigand & Sons Auction Division. Click here to bid. To see the jersey reveal, click here.
Season tickets for the 2023-24 season are on sale now. Get our Tax Day Sale, which ends at the end of April. Click here to learn more and find out what you get for taking advantage of this great offer early.