WICHITA, Kan. (July 14) – The Wichita Thunder, powered by Toyota, are excited to announce that they have extended their affiliation agreement with the NHL's San Jose Sharks for the 2023-24 season.
“We're happy to be back with San Jose for another season," said Thunder GM Joel T. Lomurno. "We had some good young prospects come through here last year and with San Jose’s deep talent pool, we look forward to seeing some exciting new players in a Thunder uniform this season."
Under the affiliation agreement, the Sharks will be able to designate players within their development system for assignment with the Thunder. The club will also be composed of players who are signed to two-way AHL contracts in addition to those on ECHL contracts (under agreement with the Thunder).
The 2023-24 season will be the second campaign of the affiliation. Five players from the Sharks organization appeared with the Thunder last year, including forwards Dillon Hamaliuk and Mitchell Russell. Also donning a Thunder uniform last year who were with the Sharks organization were Timur Ibragimov (now with Utica), Zachary Emond (now with Laval) and Mark Liwiski (free agent).
“We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the Wichita Thunder, including Head Coach Bruce Ramsay and General Manager Joel T. Lomurno," commented Sharks Assistant GM/Barracuda GM Joe Will. "Having a solid affiliation in the ECHL is important to our player development plan and the ECHL has a solid track record with preparing prospects for their NHL and AHL careers.”
San Jose joined the NHL in 1991. The Sharks have advanced to the Western Conference Final five times, which included them capturing the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009. San Jose has also earned five Pacific Division titles and made a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016.
“I'm really excited to be working with San Jose for another season,” stated Head Coach Bruce Ramsay. “Last year, we saw some talented players that came from their system and I enjoyed helping develop them so they can reach their dream of playing in the NHL. We look forward to growing our partnership and working together to ensure success at each level for all three teams.”
The Sharks have several ties to the ECHL on the team’s coaching staff, including Assistant Coach Scott Gordon (Johnstown Chiefs), who was the first ECHL graduate to ever play in the NHL and went on to serve as head coach of the Roanoke Express from 1998-2000, Assistant Coach Ryan Warsofsky, who served as an assistant coach with the South Carolina Stingrays from 2013-16 and was the team’s head coach from 2016-18 and Goaltending Coach Thomas Speer, who played for both the Idaho Steelheads and Las Vegas Wranglers in 2011-12 and served as a goaltending coach with then-Sharks affiliate Allen Americans from 2014-2017.
Additionally, Sharks goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood played in five ECHL games with the Adirondack Thunder in 2017-18, defenseman Kyle Burroughs played in 18 contests with the Missouri Mavericks in 2015-16, defenseman Jacob MacDonald skated in 110 games split over three seasons between the Elmira Jackals and Toledo Walleye and forward Scott Sabourin appeared in three games with the Manchester Monarchs in 2015-16.
San Jose is the third NHL partner for the Thunder since joining the ECHL. Wichita has previously worked with the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers.
The 2023-24 schedule is now available. Start planning now as we get ready for our 32nd year as a professional franchise and 10th in the ECHL. Click here to learn more and click here to download the schedule right to your calendar.
Season tickets for the 2023-24 season are on sale now. Save money by reserving your seats for all the fast-paced, hard-hitting action of every game. Click here to learn more.