When the Wichita Thunder meet up with the Brampton Beast at the Powerade Centre this season, there’s really no excuse why the arena wouldn’t be sold out. First of all, the Beast are putting together an outstanding roster full of OHL grads. Second of all, the Thunder have local boy Andy Bathgate on the ice and four time Stanley Cup champion, and OHL alumnus, Kevin McClelland behind the bench as head coach.
Grandson of Andy Bathgate, the Hockey Hall of Famer, Bathgate played five years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2007-08 to 2011-12 with the Belleville Bulls and Plymouth Whalers. Andy was a third round pick by the Bulls at the 2007 OHL Priority Selection, 54th overall. He played his first four years with Belleville and his final season with the Whalers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, a team his grandfather played for in 1967-68 and 1970-71, selected Bathgate in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 151st overall. His first pro action came in the form of two AHL games with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 2010-11 after the Bulls were eliminated from Robertson Cup playoff contention.
After a year in the OUA with the University of Guelph Gryphons, Andy played his first year of pro hockey in 2013-14. He started the season with 22 games for HYC Herentals in the Netherlands, contributing 42 points. He ended the year in Germany’s Oberliga, appearing in nine regular season and eight playoff games with Konigsborner JEC.
Bathgate is signed with the Wichita Thunder for 2014-15.
Kevin McClelland – Head Coach
McClelland has been a head coach in the Central Hockey League since 2005-06 and the head coach of the Wichita thunder since 2010-11. Denied a championship so far, Kevin led the Colorado Eagles to the Ray Miron President’s Cup finals in 2008-09 and coached the Thunder to the finals in 2011-12 and 2012-13. In both 2011-12 and 2012-13, McClelland was awarded the Commissioner’s Trophy as CHL coach of the year. His coaching career started in 1997-98 as assistant coach under Bert Templeton with the Barrie Colts.
Kevin played three years in the Ontario Hockey League from 1979-80 to 1981-82 with the Niagara Falls Flyers. In 1980-81, McClelland scored 36 and assisted on 72 for 108 points over 68 games. His assist total was good enough to tie him for seventh in the league with Doug Shedden of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The Hartford Whalers picked up Kevin in the fourth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, 71st overall. Before he could play for the Whalers, McClelland was traded, along with Pat Boutette to the Pittsburgh Penguins in June, 1981, in exchange for goaltender Greg Millen.
Over his National Hockey League career, Kevin played 588 regular season games between 1981-82 and 1993-94 with the Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. Over that time, he scored 68 goals and assisted on 112 for 180 points. Playing for the Oilers dynasty of the 1980’s, McClelland appeared in 98 playoff games, adding another 29 points.
Kevin’s first NHL action came in 1981-82 while still a junior with Niagara Falls. He appeared in ten regular season and five playoff games for the Penguins. McClelland was picked up by the Oilers during the 1983-84 season, just in time to capture four Stanley Cup championships over the next five years.
The Thunder are one of the original franchises of the latest version of the CHL, beginning play for the 1992-93 season. The team has won the Ray Miron President’s Cup on two occasions, 1993-94 and 1994-95. The Thunder play out of the new InTrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas, a 15,000 seat venue that opened in 2010. This past season, 2013-14, Wichita placed ninth in the ten team CHL and out of the the playoffs.