In Double-A hockey, there are more conversations.
That has been Kyle Platzer’s experience, anyway. He hasn’t gotten much from the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL team that drafted him in the fourth round four years ago, but the lines of communication have been open so far during his time with the Thunder.
The 22-year-old, who has played more than 100 games in the Triple-A American Hockey League, has aspirations beyond the Thunder and the ECHL. But while he’s here, he’s taking advantage of comfortable surroundings while leading the undefeated Thunder (6-0) with 11 points.
Platzer was chosen the ECHL’s player of the month for October on Thursday.
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“We have good talks all the time,” Platzer said of his relationship with Thunder coach Malcolm Cameron. “Not even just (about) hockey, just anything, getting settled in the city and stuff. He’s been really welcoming and he’s also been really patient with me.
“Nobody’s perfect – I have a lot of things to work on. He likes to point those out, but in a positive, encouraging way where I don’t resent him, I want to work hard for him.”
Platzer, a 5-foot-11 center who scored 28 points in 103 AHL games, is in the midst of his second breakthrough in the last four years. His first, an 81-point juniors season in 2014-15, helped jumpstart his professional career, as he was immediately placed in the AHL.
Platzer was mostly a part-time player for Bakersfield as the Oilers franchise attempted to develop him away from game situations. That has changed with the Thunder, which has made Platzer a focal point and given him an environment in which he could break out again.
“I haven’t really talked to them much lately,” Platzer said of the Oilers. “I think coming down here they want me to get some playing time and my confidence back and kind of develop. I wasn’t playing much – I was more of a practice player, and that’s sometimes very tough to improve and work on your skills.
“Coming here and playing a lot, playing with very good players and having some success and feeling confident and happy, that’s kind of the main thing for me right now. I’ve really enjoyed it here.”
Platzer’s resurgence is part of the reason the Thunder has exceeded external expectations. Wichita didn’t boast many players with high-scoring ECHL seasons, but Cameron recruited players with high ceilings and the Thunder has been boosted by the affiliation with Edmonton.
Wichita has seven players with multiple goals and none are older than 25. They possess skills similar to the speedy, shifty Platzer with just enough differences to ensure balance and versatility.
It’s a formula that could help Platzer – and others – earn promotions, even though he’s enjoying his current lot.
“I think you’ve got to have goals, for sure, and look at the big picture,” Platzer said. “But I had a good summer, I reset mentally and physically. I plan to be super-patient and do the right things and not worry about whether I’m getting called up. Instead of being selfish, just worrying about the things I can do to help my team and help myself every day.”
Allen at Thunder
- When: 7:05 p.m. Friday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: Allen 3-3-2-0, Thunder 6-0
- Broadcast: wichitathunder.com