The Wichita Thunder of the Central Hockey League is pleased to announce the re-signing of defensemen Travis Wight (white), Jon Madden, and forward Dustin Donaghy (DON-ah-hay) to the roster for the upcoming 2013-14 season. The team also announced the signing of second-year forward Jared Walker, who spent his rookie season in Bloomington a year ago.
Wight, 31, returns to the Thunder for his fourth season and eighth as a pro. The Fannystelle, Manitoba native has been a model of consistency for Wichita, playing in 198-straight regular season games since joining the team in 2010-11. Wight is 27 games shy of Jason Duda’s franchise record for most consecutive games played in a Thunder uniform. Duda’s mark of 225 was set from March 3rd, 2000 to November 18th, 2003. He was also named as the CHL’s Man of the Year this past season for all his hard work in the community and became the first Thunder player to ever win the award. Wight spent the first three seasons of his pro career with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads under former Thunder Head Coach Derek Laxdal. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defenseman played in 70 games as a rookie for Idaho in 2006-07 and was +27, helping the Steelheads to the Kelly Cup Championship. His +27 rating was best among ECHL rookies and fifth overall. Prior to turning pro, he won a championship and spent a four-year career at the University of Maine from 2002-06.
“For the past three years, Wichita has been a big part of my life not only in terms of hockey, but education and community involvement as well,” said Wight. “It should be very apparent what our goal as a team is this season. I am thrilled to be back for my fourth year and completing what we have fallen short of the past two seasons.”
Madden, 25, begins his second season as a pro after having a solid rookie campaign in Wichita. Last year, he played in all 66 games, accumulating 80 penalty minutes along with eight points (1g, 7a). The Brighton, Michigan native was asked to play many roles, seeing time up front as well as his normal position on the blue line. Madden spent four years at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (NCAA DIII), where he also was asked to play a versatile role and emerged as a physical presence during his senior season for the Pointers. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defender joined the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and faced Wichita in the first round of the playoffs two seasons ago before signing with the Thunder last year.
“I’m really excited to be coming back to Wichita for a second year,” commented Madden. “I hope to build off my rookie season I had personally. I look forward to the challenge of helping this team bring home a championship for the great Thunder fans.”
Donaghy, 24, also returns for his fourth season in Wichita and his fourth year as a pro. The Cranbrook, British Columbia native racked up 73 penalty minutes in just 43 games last season. The Thunder acquired Donaghy mid-way through the 2010-11 season in a trade with the Allen Americans. The 5-foot-11, 196-pound winger made a huge impact that season, tallying 10 goals and 18 points in 33 games, including his first career hat-trick on January 23rd against Laredo. Before turning pro, he played three seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League and won a Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs in 2007-08.
“I am excited to return to Wichita for my 4th year and to finish what we have fallen short of the past two seasons,” said Donaghy. “I know the fans will be excited for another run and for us to finally bring home a championship.”
Walker, 27, begins his second season as a pro after breaking into the CHL with the Bloomington Blaze. A seventh round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native had a solid rookie season compiling 25 points (9g, 16a) and 62 penalty minutes. He spent five years playing junior hockey for the Red Deer Rebels and Prince George Cougars of the WHL from 2002-07. During his five-year junior stint, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound forward recorded 152 points (70g, 82a) and 311 penalty minutes in 295 games. After juniors, Walker spent four years at the University of Manitoba, where he tallied 78 points (32g, 46a) in 122 games.
“I’m excited for my second pro season,” commented Walker. “I have heard great things about the organization and the fans that support the team from witnessing it first hand when I played against them last year.”
Thunder training camp opens on Monday, October 7th at the Wichita Ice Center. The team will host its 5th annual golf tournament the following week at Willowbend Golf Club on Monday, October 14th and Opening Night on Friday, October 18th against Rapid City.Individual game tickets go on sale Thursday, September 5th. Season tickets are still available. A $50 dollar non-refundable deposit is required for all season tickets. Contact the Wichita Thunder Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at (316) 264-4625 if you are interested in season tickets. Stay up-to-date on all the news this off-season by visiting www.wichitathunder.com.