Ottawa Senators name Wichita Thunder new ECHL affiliate
The Wichita, Kansas team replaces the role formerly held by the Evansville Icemen
Randy Lee, Assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators, dropped some important prospect news on TSN 1200:
Randy Lee tells @TSN1200 the Wichita Thunder are the new ECHL affiliate of the Sens.— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) July 4, 2016
UPDATE: This story was actually broken on Saturday by Murray Pam, but Wichita refused to comment until league approval became official.
The Thunder were part of the Central Hockey League for its entire existence, from 1992-2014. Following the folding of the league, the Thunder joined the ECHL. The Thunder have never been an affiliate of an NHL team in their history.
The Thunder replace the Evansville Icemen, who were the Sens' and B-Sens' affiliate for 2014-16. However, due to an issue with the arena lease agreement, the Evansville Icemen were not returning for the 2016-17 season. Evansville was getting a team in the Southern Professional Hockey League, while the the Icemen were relocating to Owensboro, Kentucky and retaining their ECHL affiliation. The catch was that Owensboro won't have an arena ready until 2017, so the Sens needed to find a new ECHL affiliate for the coming season.
As shown on the map below, the Sens probably would've preferred Owensboro to Wichita based on distance, since both Evansville and Owensboro are about 1300 km from Binghamton, while Wichita is 2200 km from Binghamton.
In related news, the playing of Seven Nation Army at Sens games when Ben Harpur was called up now makes a whole lot more sense.