Wichita, KS (May 21st) – For the first time in its 20-year history, the Wichita Thunder welcomes the Junior Thunder, a new franchise in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) and will begin play in the 2012-13 season.
The Junior Thunder is a partnership of Steven Brothers Sports Management LLC and will be operated by the Thunder organization in addition to the parent Central Hockey League club.
“We are very excited to be a part of the WSHL,” commented GM Bryan Wells. “It will give all local kids the opportunity to stay in Wichita to play junior hockey at a level we have never had in town before.”
The WSHL is a Junior “A” league with players ranging from 16-20 years of age. These players are attempting to land spots with a college team or making a jump to the professional level. Junior Thunder players will live with host families during the season, which runs from mid-September through early March.
“The Western States Hockey League is extremely pleased to add another CHL-operated junior team in to the Midwest Division,” said WSHL Commissioner Ron White. “Wichita fits perfectly into our footprint and will bring added competition to the whole league in general.”
The Junior Thunder will play their home games at the Wichita Ice Center and will compete against teams from Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. The Junior Thunder will join the Junior Oilers and the Junior Brahmas as part of the CHL-operated franchises with teams in the WSHL.
“We are very excited to be bringing this caliber of hockey to Wichita,” said Thunder owner Rodney Steven II. “Our goal from day one was to grow hockey and ice sports in Wichita and with an already rich hockey tradition in this city, we felt this was another way to bring our loyal fans a great product while trying to grow the sport to new heights.”
The search is underway for the first Junior Thunder head coach. The team expects to make a coaching announcement in the coming weeks.