STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder, the proud ECHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League, has exercised a one-year option for the 2011-12 season and signed head coach Matt Thomas to a two-year contract extension through 2013-14, Thunder president Dan Chapman announced today. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Last season, the first after Thomas helped successfully administer a dual NHL affiliation agreement with the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks, his team tied the club record with 86 points and won 37 games, one shy of the Thunder single season record. It led to a second place finish in the Pacific Division with a 37-23-12 record.
Thomas, one of the winningest coaches in the ECHL for the last decade, returns to the bench for his seventh season as a head coach and his third full season behind the Thunder bench. The 35-year old needs two wins to become the all-time leader in Thunder coaching wins and has amassed a record of 92-68-25 behind the bench since he was named Thunder head coach on Dec. 29, 2008.
Thomas has also never missed the playoffs in his seven years as a head coach and two years as an assistant, launching his pro career as an assistant for Head Coach Mike Haviland (currently an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL) when the two helped guide the Altantic City Boardwalk Bullies to a Kelly Cup Championship in 2002-03.
Thomas has made two appearances as coach at the ECHL All-Star Game in his career, most recently in 2009 while representing the Thunder for the National Conference. Thomas was also named to the American Conference in the 2005 ECHL All-Star Game in his first year as head coach for Atlantic City.