After a successful three year Junior A career with the Yorkton Terriers, Moose Jaw's Chantz Petruic got his first professional goal last week in his first game with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL.
Petruic scored 58 goals and 51 assists in 52 regular-season games last season with the Terriers, winning the league’s top scorer award and most valuable player. While this year, he is a new player on a new team, and he has just played one game so far, there are a few familiar players on the ice with him.
“I had a couple of buddies that are playing here now, like Brayden Watts,” Petruic said, referring to former Warriors teammate and five-year WHL player who scored 61 points last year with Prince Albert. “My dad Jeff played here as well. And the coach here (Bruce Ramsey) as well, had a relationship with my father in coaching and playing against him as well. I guess it was more of a comfortability thing and it just worked out well.”
Jeff Petruic scored 35 points in 37 games in Wichita in 2002-03, and three years later joined the Muskegon Fury of the UHL, where he played under assistant coach Ramsey.
The younger Petruic, who was the captain of the Terriers last season, is glad to start his pro career.
“It’s kind of been a little bit of a whirlwind, coming here on a tryout deal,” Chantz said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s just hockey at the end of the day and I’ve played a long time now. I just try to stick to my game and stick with what works. I was lucky enough to score my first goal and it felt good, for sure.”
The ECHL’s Thunder started their season with a 3-2 overtime win over Tulsa. Their post-Christmas schedule is a daunting one, with eight games in less than three weeks, starting on Boxing Day.
“it’s a little frustrating when you get the debut out of the way and then have that two weeks off, so it kind of puts you back to square one again just trying to get into that game rhythm,” Petruic said. “I think the intensity in practice is a big thing. We’re trying to stay in (game) shape as much as we can.”
The Thunder are in Kansas City Boxing Day to play the Mavericks and will have a steady diet of them and the Allen (Texas) Americans for the next ten games.