Thunder History

The Wichita Thunder are a member of the Central Hockey League, located in Wichita, KS. The Thunder are the premier source of affordable family entertainment in Wichita. Follow the Thunder in their hunt for the President's Cup at www.wichitathunder.com.

The Thunder were one of the first six original teams of the new Central Hockey League, along with the Oklahoma City Blazers, Tulsa Oilers, Memphis RiverKings, Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire.

Wichita played their first home game at Britt Brown Arena on November 4, 1992 in front of a crowd of 5,486. In the same season the Thunder had their first sellout in team history, the crowd of 9,686 fans watched the Thunder defeat Oklahoma City 4-3.

The Thunder were originally coached by Gary Fay, but after a 6-20 start he was replaced by Doug Shedden. Although they started out with a 6-20 record the season was quickly turned around by Shedden and they finished their first season with a 25-32-2 record. On April 5, 1993, Thunder goaltender Robert Desjardins was named the first CHL Rookie of the Year.

In the following two seasons the Thunder were the Regular Season Champions (Adams Cup) and Playoff Champions (William Levins Memorial Cup) for both seasons. Ron Handy was the Playoff Most Valuable Player for both seasons, he is the only player in Central Hockey League history to win the award on multiple occasions. In the 1993-1994 season Doug Shedden won the Coach of the Year award, Robert Desjardins won the Regular Season Most Valuable Player award and Paul Jackson won the Scoring Champion award.

On May 14, 1995, Head Coach Doug Shedden resigned to become coach of the Louisiana IceGators of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).

Don Jackson was hired as the new head coach on July 21, 1995. He lead the Thunder to a 22-39-3 record and missed the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

On July 19, 1996, Don Jackson resigned to become head coach of the Kansas City Blades of the International Hockey League (IHL).

In July 1996, Bryan Wells was named the Thunder's fourth head coach in franchise history. Wells would go on to coach the Thunder for five seasons, they made the playoffs four out of the five seasons he coached. On May 2, 2001, Wells was dismissed as head coach.

After the dismissal of Coach Wells the Thunder announced that James Latos would be the new head coach. In Lato's first season coaching the team went 24-34-6 and were out of the playoffs. Latos was fired the following season after a disappointing start of just 8-19-7.

Just five days after coach Lato's dismissal, the Thunder announced that Derek Laxdal would become the teams new head coach. Laxdal went on to coach the Thunder for two more seasons comprising a 87-58-8 record while clinching two separate playoff berths. On August 3, 2005, Laxdal announced his resignation in order to become head coach of the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.