The Stockton Thunder opened training camp on Friday, September 28 with 28 skaters and four goaltenders.
Matt Thomas has signed 19 players to date for camp and also invited a few from the recent free-agent try out. Eleven players are slated to return from last years team, including forwards Jesse Fratkin, Matt Reber, Gabriel Levesque, and Garet Hunt, defensemen Mike Little, Tony DeHart, Nathan Deck, Rob Kwiet, Cameron Brodie, and Ryan Constant and goaltender Cody Reichard.
Fratkin will return for his second season after helping guide Stockton to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs last season. The 24-year old forward posted 11 goals last season, fourth among Thunder rookies and collected 30 points in 56 games.
Reber, 24-years old, will return for his first full season, after his acquisition by the Thunder mid-season last year, finishing the season with 11 goals, and 36 points in 66 games.
Levesque is also a second season returnee. The 22-year old skated in only 26 games last season, due to an injury that sidelined him for 44 consecutive games. However, upon his return in March he mounted a nine point streak (3 goals, 6 assists) in eight games. He ended the season with 9 goals and 14 assists.
The four time recipient of the Thunder fan favorite, Garet Hunt, 24, will also return for his fifth consecutive season. He holds the record for the Thunder all time games played list (244) and penalty minutes (966). He led the Thunder last season, with 255 penalty minutes with 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 69 games as alternate captain.
*Among the returning blue-liners, Mike Little was the first to sign a player contract during the summer months. Little was the first Thunder player in history to be selected to the ECHL All-Rookie Team and was the first lone representative of the Western Conference for the 2011-2012 honorees. Last season, Little played in 70 games leading the Thunder defensemen with 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists). Little will be attending camp at AHL Worcester.
Tony DeHart has also signed a contract to return for his second full season, having joined the Thunder as a free agent in October of 2011. The 6’2”, 202 pound defenseman skated in 46 games last season, posting four goals and eight assists, finishing with a plus-one rating.
The recipient of the Unsung Hero Award in 2011-12 as a rookie, Nathan Deck collected 26 points last season in 60 games. He also skated in eight Kelly Cup Playoff games with the Thunder earning two assists.
Also set to return for his second season is Rob Kwiet. The 24-year old out of Toronto, Ontario joined the Thunder last March, and contributed eight assists in his first 12 games.
Cameron Brodie earned his first call-up to the AHL last year with the Texas Stars, skating in three games on a professional tryout agreement. He played in 52 games with the Thunder last season, earning seven assists and 68 penalty minutes. Brodie will begin his third season with the Thunder.
Back again following a year in Italy, where he helped the Milano Rossoblue earn the championship is Ryan Constant. The blue-liner was named Defenseman of the Year in 2010-11 and ranks sixth on the Thunder all-time list with 161 games played. This will be the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba natives fourth season with the Thunder.
The only goaltender signed to date is Cody Reichard. Reichard appeared on the roster during the 2012 Kelly Cup Playoffs when he signed on under emergency conditions to back up Olivier Roy in the first five games of the playoffs. Reichard had just closed out his college career at Oxford, Ohio at Miami University (NCAA). Reichard will begin camp with AHL Hamilton.
*The remaining list of players to complement the team that have been signed over the summer are forwards Evan Vossen, Ryan Green, Chris Corbeil, Eric Hunter, Harrison Reed, Phil Mangan, Matt Bergland, and Kyle O’Kane and defenseman Shawn Boutin.
Evan Vossen enters his first professional season with the Thunder from an accomplished five year career at McGill University (CIS). As captain, he led the team to their first ever CIS title in program history last season, scoring the championship winning goal in sudden death overtime. He skated in 126 career games, collecting 96 points (53 goals, 43 assists) and 84 penalty minutes.
Ryan Green, a 21-year old, 6’3”, 210 pound center will make his professional debut following a single year at CIS University of Windsor. He skated in 27 games last season, earning 12 goals and 13 assists, ranking second on the team. He had previously skated in 151 career junior games in the North American Hockey League and the British Columbia Hockey League, earning 106 points and 290 penalty minutes.
Chris Corbeil, 24, skated three seasons with the University of Western Ontario (CIS). He collected 25 points in 59 career games. A two sport athlete, he played for three seasons in the National Lacrosse League with Edmonton and Buffalo. He was selected to the NLL All-Rookie team in 2010 and helped Canada earn the gold medal at the world Indoor Lacrosse Championships in 2011.
Eric Hunter just completed his first full professional season with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. He suited up for 75 games earning 6 goals and 10 assists.
*Veteran center Harrison Reed enters his fifth professional season after being selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round (93rd overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and having skated in 284 career games at the AHL, ECHL and CHL levels. Last season with the Walleye, he earned 16 goals and 17 assists in 52 games.
Phil Mangan a 25-year old center will begin his first professional season after skating with Stjernen (Norway) last season. He earned 5 goals and 10 assists in 24 games.
* Matt Bergland played NCAA Providence College last season. He collected 33 goals and 49 assits with 106 penalty minutes in 138 career games, leading the program with 16 assists in his final season.
Kyle O’Kane joins the Thunder after a four year NCAA career with Western Michigan University. He registerd 27 goals and 23 assists in 124 games.
Defenseman Shawn Boutin skated last season with the Arizona Sun Dogs of the Central Hockey League. He notched six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 45 games.
* The following players have signed with the Thunder on Professional Tryout Agreements: Goalies Jimmy Spratt, Ryan Klingensmith, Matt Pamidi and Defenseman Michael Monfredo.
Jimmy Spratt appeared in 54 career ECHL games with Utah, Idaho, Victoria, Toledo and Las Vegas, and posted a 9-12-0 with a .903 save percentage with Idaho and Utah last season.
Ryan Klingensmith skated with HP Partizan in Serbia last season and appeared in 27 games with a 2.86 goals against average.
Matt Pamidi, a 27 year old has suited up as an emergency backup goaltender with Thunder in the past few seasons. He skated with San Jose State University for three seasons.
Michael Monfredo skated with SUNY-Fredonia (NCAA) last season and earned three goals and five assists in 26 games.
In addition eleven players joined camp from free agent tryouts, forwards: Sterline Bear, Balazs Deifik, Tristan Lysko, Evan Mackintosh, Marcus Mitchell, Alexander Molnar, and David Watson. Defensemen Aaron Atwell, Mark Freedman and Eric Galt and goaltender Ryan Fitzsimmons. The Thunder opens their preseason schedule on Wednesday, October 3 against the San Francisco Bulls. They will travel to Bakersfield California for another game on Friday, October 5, and return to the Stockton Arena for their final preseason game on Saturday, October 6.
The 2012-13 season opener will be Friday, October 12 against the Ontario Reign at home.
Contact the writer at Shellie.Lima@prohockeynews.com
Contact the Photographer at Jack.Lima@prohockeynews.com