Wichita Returns Two Crinella, Schmitz for 21-22 Season
On August 8th, the Wichita Thunder announced that Garrett Schmitz and Peter Crinella would be making a return for the 2021-22 season. This now puts Wichita at six returning players.
In 50 games throughout the 21-22 season, Schmitz contributed 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points. Usually a defenseman, Schmitz found himself skating out as a forward for a vast majority of last season. “Fans can expect to see someone that will show up to work every night contributing wherever I can, whether it be on forward or defense, to help this team be successful,” he said.
Schmitz, entering his third year playing for the Thunder, found it quite easy to make his decision to return. “After playing the last two seasons in Wichita it’s starting to feel like a second home almost. The fans, coaching staff, and group of guys coming back made it an easy decision,” Schmitz said.
With last season being the most successful in quite some time, Schmitz feels that it sets a foundation for this year, as he says, “I see this team building off of last year’s regular season success and transferring that to this season and into the playoffs.”
However, the unfortunate part of last season was seeing the team that eliminated them go on to win it all. Instead of hanging their heads, Schmitz says the team is using it as motivation, “Getting eliminated early in the playoffs last year knowing we had a group of guys that could do something special definitely stung a lot. Knowing the feeling of coming up short and taking off your jersey for the last time of the year hopefully drives us this year.”
Schmitz has still been preparing for the 21-22 season, despite the shortened offseason. “With only a few short months of the offseason this year, there is not a whole lot of time to do the things I normally would, but, I’ve just been skating and trying to put back on some muscle that you typically lose in a 72 game season.
With his preparations, he also has a personal goal set. “I hope to contribute a little more offensively this year. A realistic goal of mine would be to get that 30-40 point range and to be a player that can be utilized in all situations.”
He is also eager to make his return, as playing for Wichita has significant meaning to him. “To be able to represent the Thunder organization both on and off the ice, to put on that Thunder jersey, and play in front of the awesome fans of Wichita is an honor and not something that I take for granted.”
Peter Crinella, a forward, appeared in 66 games for Wichita last season putting up 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points. Crinella also appeared in 3 of the 5 playoff games. Also heading into his third season with Wichita, he found it relatively easy to decide to return based on some factors. Those deciding factors are: “The cluminations of the coaching staff, the city of Wichita, and the support we get from the community as well as the run we went on last year.”
Coming so close, but falling short to the team who went on to win it all leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. However, Crinella uses it as motivation. “Being that close to moving on will always leave you wanting more. We had a great team and even better locker room, so losing game 5 in overtime has made me eager to get back at it.”
With COVID, it caused an even longer offseason last year, but provides an even shorter one this year. Peter has still been preparing for the 21-22 season, despite how little time he has, compared to a normal offseason. “Since last years off season was so long, I was able to make significant gains in my training both on and off the ice. I worked hard to maintain that during the year so I would be able to improve this offseason. After a little time away from the rink/gym I’ve tried to make the most of the little time I have before next season. I have an awesome group of guys and coaches back home so it makes it easy to jump back in,” he says.
Improvement throughout the years is something that is seen among many players who’ve made the decision to return, as that is a personal goal of Crinella’s. “I personally want to continue to improve all facets of my games. I would like to play in all situations, as well as taking a jump in my production.”
Wearing the Thunder’s blue and white is special to Peter. “Putting on the Thunder jersey is pretty special to me because it’s where I started my professional career. It also means that you commit to playing a certain way, which is to play tough and hard. I believe Coach has installed that in the team since we both joined the organization two years ago,” he said.
The Wichita Thunder will open their season up on the road against the Allen Americans, on October 23rd in Allen, TX.
By Gabe Daniel