|Thunder, Wilson and Kyros strike 100 games
This weekend’s double header against the Sydney Ice Dogs will see the Perth Thunder and two members of the squad reach considerable milestones.
Saturday’s game at the Perth Ice Arena will see the Thunder play their 100th regular season game in the AIHL since entering the league in 2012. Squad members and fan favourites Jordan Kyros and captain Sam Wilson have played every game in the Thunder’s history and will also play their 100th games for the Thunder colours!
The Thunder’s 2015 season campaign sees them sitting in 3rd position in the standings and eyeing off their second finals berth in four seasons. As a club, the Thunder organisation has developed rapidly over the past four seasons.
The 99-game road to what is now a well established and highly competitive team began in 2010 when the Thunder were granted a provisional licence with the AIHL. Throughout the 2011 season, the team participated in several exhibition games before being voted in as the ninth team to join the Australian Ice Hockey League for the 2012 season.
Foundation head coach and general manager Stan Scott is proud of what the team has been able to achieve.
“As a club, we have achieved a lot both on and off the ice,” he said. “We have established ourselves as a very competitive team with a strong support base and long term sponsors.”
Across their first four seasons in the league, Scott pinpointed the Thunder’s first finals appearance as a key moment.
“Making the finals in our second season was a highlight, but also seeing how much our local talent has improved,” he said. “As GM, establishing a solid team of people with good skill sets to assist in running the club has been a focus. It takes a lot of commitment from people off the ice and I am proud of the off-ice team we have established.”
2015 has seen further development of the Thunder’s on-ice squad and off-ice management with Dave Kenway being handed the coaching reigns for the 2015 season, allowing Scott to step solely into the role of GM. The Thunder TV initiative has been a key addition as the club continues to expand and the team received strong public exposure, providing the curtain raiser to the USA vs Canada Ice Hockey Classic at Perth Arena in June.
The fan support base has been a key part of the development of the Thunder brand. At the conclusion of the New Zealand Tri-Series in April this year, Thunder alternate captain Andrew Cox, who represented the Ice Blacks, labelled the Thunder fans as “ruthless as hell” and “loved playing in front of them” as an opposition player. With ice hockey still being a relatively small scene in the Australian sporting landscape, the fan support has been vital to the growth of the Thunder.
Long-time Perth Thunder fan and member Scott Buckle has found the growth of the Thunder in Perth very exciting.
“It’s been great watching the players grow in both skill and confidence from year to year,” Buckle said. “There have been so many highlights, from dropping the puck earlier this season to the team’s amazing support when my son Tyler was sick in hospital last season.”
Buckle said that he feels the future of the team is “limitless” and is very excited about what is to come for the club.
The playing group for the Perth Thunder is one that has undergone significant change and development since their inaugural season with the comings and goings of both local talent and imports. Two players have been there for every game the Thunder has played in the AIHL.
Sam Wilson was selected as the Thunder’s first captain for the 2012 season and has remained in the position ever since. Wilson has not missed a Thunder game since the club entered the competition and will captain the team for the 100th time in Saturday’s game against the Ice Dogs.
Wilson labelled the experience of playing hockey at the Perth Arena earlier this season as a “dream come true” and his time playing for the Thunder has included some amazing highlights.
In 99 games across four seasons, the now 30-year old Wilson has scored 20 goals and racked up 40 assists. Not afraid of the physicality that hockey brings, Wilson is a fast and relentless forward who has left everything on the ice every time he has laced up the skates for the Thunder.
Forward Jordan Kyros will join Wilson in the 100 club as well this weekend. Kyros has also not missed a game for the club despite being selected for National teams several times. A fan favourite, Kyros is quick forward with excellent game awareness and a ‘can do’ attitude.
In his 99 games for the Thunder, the 23-year old Kyros has notched up 25 goals and 57 assists, making him a key team player. He also attacks the game with physicality and has been at the core of the Thunder playing group since the early exhibition games in 2011.
As the Thunder has grown over the past 4 years, so has the sport in Western Australia, with a 40% increase in local memberships, more opportunities to play hockey and proven success in state tournaments.
The number 100 will be on everyone’s lips this weekend as the Thunder celebrates a key milestone for the club, players, coaching staff, support team and fans. The Ice Dogs will be looking for their first regular season win in 2015 while the Thunder will be looking to secure wins in both games to further increase their chances of a finals berth.