The Wichita Thunder have won the N. Thomas Berry Trophy as the Central Hockey League’s Berry Conference champions for 2011-12, claiming the title with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Texas Brahmas in Game 6 of their best-of-7 series at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills, Texas on Monday evening.
Wichita advances to the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Finals to meet the winner of the Turner Conference Finals, either the Missouri Mavericks or the Fort Wayne Komets (Missouri currently lead series 3-2). The journey to the Finals is the fourth in the 20 year history of the Thunder who have won two of their previous three trips (defeated Tulsa in 1994, defeated San Antonio in 1995 and lost to Columbus in 1998).
The Thunder made their way to the Finals thanks to a 4-2 series win over Texas in the Berry Conference Finals and a 4-1 Opening Round series win over the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.
Wichita is coached by the 2012 CHL Coach of the Year Kevin McClelland (also won the award in 2007 with Memphis) who helped guide the Thunder to the Bud Poile Governors’ Cup Championship as the CHL’s regular season champs with a 44-19-3 record (91 points). Wichita is looking to become the first team since the 2004-05 Colorado Eagles to win both the Presidents’ Cup and the Governors’ Cup in the same season.
McClelland is 78-45-9 in two seasons with the Thunder and has coached in one previous CHL Finals, 2009 with the Colorado Eagles who lost to the Texas Brahmas. McClelland’s 265 regular season wins rank eighth on the CHL’s all-time wins list.
The Berry Conference and N. Thomas Berry Trophy are named after the current Commissioner Emeritus of the CHL, Tom Berry, who has been involved in the sport of hockey for close to a half-century.