The Wichita Thunder of the ECHL have begun filling out their roster for the 2015-16 season. On board are two Ontario Hockey League alumni. Goaltender David Shantz returns to pro hockey for the first time since 2010-11 while Paxton Leroux enters his second year in the league.
Shantz played three years in the OHL from 2003-04 to 2005-06. His first two years were spent with the Mississauga IceDogs and his final year was between the pipes with the Peterborough Petes. David was originally a seventh round pick by the IceDogs at the 2002 OHL Priority Selection, 121st overall.
David was an OHL All-Rookie goalie in 2003-04, appearing in 43 regular season games for Mississauga, posting a 2.90 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. The IceDogs, led offensively by Patrick O’Sullivan, finished second in the Eastern Conference and were swept in the OHL finals by the Guelph Storm. Shantz appeared in 24 playoff games with a 2.03 GAA and .933 save percentage.
In his final season, David helped Peterborough to a first place seed in the Eastern Conference, second overall behind the London Knights. He appeared in 49 regular season games, 19 playoff games and all four of the team’s games at the Memorial Cup tournament. Peterborough took out London to capture the league championship before falling to the Vancouver Giants in the Mem Cup tiebreaker game.
After just his first season in the OHL, Shantz was a second round pick of the Florida Panthers at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, 37th overall. Since 2006-07, he’s played pro hockey in the AHL and ECHL. Shantz has twice appeared in the ECHL all-star game. In 2006-07, he played as a member of the Florida Everblades and in 2009-10 he represented the Victoria Salmon Kings.
Between 2011-12 and 2013-14, Shantz did not play. He spent 2014-15 with the University of New Brunswick, helping that squad to an AUS championship with a win over Acadia in the finals.
David Shantz is signed with Wichita for the 2015-16 season.
Leroux played parts of two years in the Ontario Hockey League, 2012-13 and 2013-14. In his first year, he played 22 regular season games for the London Knights, along with 14 playoff games and two more in the Memorial Cup tournament. The following year, Paxton played 13 games for London and a single game with the Kitchener Rangers.
Originally, Leroux was a fourth round pick by the Saginaw Spirit back at the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, 74th overall. Until he surfaced with the Knights, he played with his hometown Peterborough OJHL team.
In his first year of pro hockey, 2014-15, Leroux appeared in 43 games for the Terry Ruskowski coached Quad City Mallards. Paxton contributed three assists and a whopping 176 penalty minutes. He is signed with the Thunder for one season.
A charter member of the newest version of the Central Hockey League, entering play for the 1992-93 season, the Thunder came over to join the ECHL for the 2014-15 season when the CHL disbanded. In their first ECHL season, Wichita did not qualify for the post season. The team won two Ray Miron President’s Cup championships in the CHL in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
The Thunder play home games at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas, a cavernous (for the ECHL) 15,000 seat venue that opened in 2010. Wichita is found in the southern portion of the state and has a population around 400,000 with a metro population around 650,000.