The Stockton Thunder and head coach and director of hockey operations Rich Kromm announced today that the team has agreed to terms with veteran left wing Garet Hunt. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Hunt, 26, is the second player to return from last season’s Thunder team that advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals. Last season, his first as Thunder captain, he collected 25 points (7g-18a) and a league leading 235 penalty minutes in 70 games.
“We’re really excited to have the opportunity to bring back a player of Garet’s stature and credentials,” said Kromm. “His fearless, driven and competitive reputation around the league made the priority very high to bring him back for this season. He’s a leader who can provide a real ‘compete’ barometer for all of our players to reach for. We want a team that can play with fierce energy every night and Garet sets the bar as a driven figure, who can push guys in the room and on the ice.”
The 5-foot-8 and 190 pound forward then posted postseason career highs, helping guide the Thunder to its first ever Western Conference title with 13 points (3g-10a) in 23 playoff games.
Hunt – named recipient of the Thunder “Fan Favorite” award each season of his career and “Unsung Hero” twice (2010-11 and 2012-13) – ranks as the Thunder all time leader in games played (314), penalty minutes (1,201) and Kelly Cup Playoff games (61). His career high in scoring came in 2010-11 when he skated under an AHL contract with the Worcester Sharks, totaling 13 goals and 30 points in 60 games.
A member of the Thunder since 2008-09 when he was originally assigned by the Springfield Falcons on an AHL contract, he made his debut with a league leading 248 penalty minutes and skated in 63 games, additionally posting three goals in 13 playoff games en route to the Thunder’s first ever playoff series win.
With Hunt in the lineup, the Thunder has never missed the playoffs and has advanced to the second round or further in four of the last five seasons.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to compete and play for the great city of Stockton,” said Hunt. “It’s my second home and I love the community and fans. They had a huge role in influencing my decision to return. We’ve taken our tradition of winning to the next level and I’m right there to support Coach Kromm as an extension of him to the rest of the team. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win every night and not leave anything on the ice. I’m confident we’ll continue the success we’ve had from years past.”
The native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia played in the Western Hockey League for four seasons with the Vancouver Giants, posting 542 penalty minutes and 41 points in 193 career games. He was a part of the Giants’ run to the Memorial Cup title in 2006-07 when he skated in 57 games with 156 penalty minutes and 11 points, missing the postseason while recovering from a season ending injury.
The Thunder opens the regular season at home for “Opening Night,” with the unveiling of the Western Conference championship banner on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. against the Colorado Eagles at Stockton Arena.
A two time recipient of the ECHL “Award of Excellence,” the Thunder led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the eighth consecutive season in 2012-13. Season Tickets and Mini Plans are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit www.StocktonThunder.com