Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chats From The Bench: Chris Chappell

Chris Chappell was a late training camp addition for Thunder head coach Kevin McClelland. But it was an addition that has proven to be beneficial to the Thunder's success so far this season. Chappell has played a key role on the third line and has been on of the best penalty killers for the Thunder. As of late he has shown his scoring touch as well, contributing five points in the last three games. With the departure of Wichita's leading scorer Alex Bourret, Chappell will be looked upon to continue chipping in points, as the Thunder near the mid point of this season. Chris is a young player, but one that has plenty of experience playing at a high level. Already in his third professional season, Chris has played eleven games in the AHL. Recently he took time to sit down and answer a few questions in this week's chat from the bench.

ZC: This is your first year in Wichita, what is your opinion on the city, fans, and arena? And do you have any favorite spots around town?

CC: I like it here a lot. The downtown area is very nice along with the arena it's first class. The fans are awesome, it's great to have the support we do and nothing beats playing in front of a loud audience.

ZC: Who has influenced you most in your career?

CC: I would say my parents have influenced me most through all of their support and advice. I was always taught to work hard and do my best and I try to replicate that on the ice.

ZC: Who was your favorite player growing up?

CC:Steve Yzerman was my favorite player growing up.

ZC: Do you have any superstitions or rituals?

CC: No not really.

ZC: You played eleven games in the AHL with Hartford/Connecticut, tell me what that experience was like and what you gained from it?

CC: It was really exciting getting called up there. I was able to see how the guys take care of themselves with stretching, warming up, etc it was very professional.

ZC: All year long you have been great on the penalty kill for the Thunder, and played a physical game all year. As of late you've also shown your scoring touch. How would you describe your playing style?

CC: I try to play with a lot of energy each night, get in in the forecheck, play well defensively and also chip in as much as I can on the scoreboard.

ZC: You have five points in your last three games, and in that span have scored your first goal of the season and assisted on the game tying goal in Evansville. How has this stretch felt for you?

CC: It's really helped my confidence and it feels good to start putting up some numbers. Hopefully it carrys on to the upcoming games.

ZC: We as fans here a lot about pranks on rookies or new guys, have you ever been subject to that during your career?

CC: My first year all we had to do was dress up like girls one night out at a bar as well as pick up pucks and clean the bus which is pretty standard.

ZC: So far, where has been the toughest place to play in your career?

CC: There isn't a single city that I've despised playing in so far.

ZC: Lastly, what do you pride yourself on as a player?

CC: Like I said earlier I take pride on overall work ethic. I also take pride on the penalty kill.

My thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer a few questions.

The Thunder go into this weekend riding a three game winning streak. The trouble for Wichita all year has been keeping momentum after a strong week. Only two games this weekend, four points to be won, and a one point lead in the Berry Conference. Wichita plays at Quad City (Moline, Illinois) tonight, and then travels back home to face Tulsa on Saturday Night. Quad City may have been the best team in the Central Hockey League in the month of December. The Mallards went 11-2-1 in December and climbed their way into second place in the Turner Conference. Quad City will no doubt want to show the rest of the league that December was no fluke. Their start to 2012 has not been so kind though, losing on Tuesday night in Evansville 5-2. Tulsa enjoyed December success as well, going 7-5-0 in the month. 

On Wednesday it was made known that Thunder forward Alex Bourret was called up to the AHL's Worcester Sharks. Bourret a 2005 first round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, and in my opinion, deserves this opportunity more than a lot of people I have seen in the CHL. Bourret seemed to do anything it took to help his team win, he played the power play, the penalty kill, he scored short handed, he scored in the shootout, and he did the dirty work during games that some guys will never do. Now I am no coach, though some I may think other wise at times, but Bourret seemed like the type of player that coaches would dream of having on their team. The all around player that can score like it's going out of style. While I will admit that as a fan, I am selfish and want Bourret back soon, but you can't help but root for a guy like Alex to succeed at the AHL level and hopefully move up from there. To put icing on the cake for Bourret he was named the CHL player of the month. Alex Bourret may have only played 27 games in Wichita, so far, but he is a name that Wichita hockey fans won't soon forget. Best of luck to Alex on his quest back to the NHL spotlight.

Until next time.

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