(Photo: Courtesy of Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved.)
Today the Edmonton Oilers assigned goaltender Tyler Bunz to the ECHL’s new expansion team the Wichita Thunder. With the overloaded goalie situation in the Oilers organization it was almost a given that one of the young goalies would be loaned out to another ECHL team who would be able to provide far more playing time.
Five goaltenders landed in OKC for Barons training camp: Tyler Bunz, Ty Rimmer, Frans Tuohimaa, Laurent Brossoit and Richard Bachman. On October 5th, Rimmer and Tuohimaa were assigned to the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL), which left Richard Bachman, Laurent Brossoit and Tyler Bunz in OKC. After the former CHL team Wichita Thunder was officially announced as part of the new ECHL’s Western Conference expansion Central Division on October 7th, it made perfect sense for Bunz to be assigned nearby in Wichita, just a two-and-a-half hour drive north.
From the Wichita Thunder announcement:
“Bunz, 22, begins his third professional season and first in Wichita. The Regina, Saskatchewan native spent time with the Bakersfield Condors and Stockton Thunder of the ECHL along with six appearances with the Barons over the last two years. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound netminder has a combined pro record of 23-21-6 with a 3.27 goals against average and .889 save percentage. Last season, he was called up and made his first AHL career start on November 9th at San Antonio, making 34 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss. Bunz earned his first AHL win on November 12th against the Rampage stopping 34 shots in a 3-2 victory. He finished the season with the Condors, going 5-2-3 in 13 starts with a 2.55 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
A fifth round selection of the Edmonton Oilers (121st overall) during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bunz played a five-year junior career for Medicine Hat of the WHL. He shattered the program’s record for wins (115), surpassing some impressive names like Kelly Hrudey and Chris Osgood. He was named the Tigers’ regular season and playoff Most Valuable Player in 2012 and was selected as a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All-Star. He added to his awards that year by winning the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL’s top goaltender.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the Wichita Thunder, the team is coached by Kevin McClelland, a former player who Oilers fans will well remember as “Mac” from the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup years. McClelland, a very physical enforcer, was a member of the 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988 Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup teams and you can read more about him at Joe Pelletier’s Greatest Hockey Legends. Unfortunately McClelland was far too busy with the Thunder’s ECHL transition to join the rest of the ’84 Oilers Team Reunion in Edmonton this week.
The Thunder’s season begins on October 25th. Good luck Tyler and the Wichita Thunder!