In the wake of its 1-5 start in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, the expansion Delaware Thunder underwent the first of several anticipated alterations earlier this week. The team’s General Manager and Coach, Charlie Pens, Sr., acquired speedy, explosive forward Anton Kalinin and rugged, puck moving defenseman Egor Kostyukov for financial considerations from Eastern Division rival Watertown.
Both players will be in the lineup for this weekend’s home-and-home series with Eastern Division rival Mentor (Ohio), which is tied with Watertown for first place.
“Anton will bring more scoring to the offense, and Egor will add some grit, speed and mobility from the back end to improve our defense,” said Pens, Sr. “We will be making more changes during the coming weeks.”
Kalinin has the ability to add significant speed and offensive skills to an offense whose majority of goals (12 of 21) have been supplied by two players – forwards Brandon Contratto and Ryan Marker. The 5-foot-9, 170-lb. left handed shooting Kalinin skated in five games for the Wolves this season, recording an assist and a +1 rating. A year ago, he contributed 13 goals – four of them game winners — and 33 points with a +4 rating for Watertown. The left handed shooter also participated in two Commissioner’s Cup playoff games.
In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the 21-year old native of Kasli, Russia was a standout performer for his U-17 and U-18 Mechel Chelyabinsk Russian National Teams, respectively. Kalinin accumulated 35 goals and 57 points during the two seasons, and was the team’s leading scorer and MVP in 2015-16.
Kalinin moved to North America and played during the 2017-18 season for the Lake Erie Eagles of the Tier III Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League (CPJHL), netting 31 goals and 52 points in 35 games. He also contributed two assists in his only post-season action for the Eagles.
Kostyukov is a rugged 22-year old blueliner who recorded an assist in six games for Watertown this season. A year ago, the 6-foot-1, 105-lb. native of Tver, Russia scored two goals, eight points, 43 penalty minutes and a -5 rating in 41 games for the Wolves. A left handed shot, Egor was also +1 in two post-season appearances, and should help bolster a team that enters this weekend’s play next-to-last in the 10-team circuit with 31 goals allowed.
To make room for Kalinin and Kostyukov, Pens released forward Robin Vartanov, who notched an assist and a +1 rating in five games for the Thunder.
The Thunder hopes for the return this weekend of promising young defenseman, Daniel DeCristofaro, who missed last Saturday’s game in Elmira.
Delaware hosts the Ice Breakers on Friday, then visits Mentor in Ohio on Saturday.
Friday is Military Appreciation Night, with discounts available for active and retired military personnel. The Thunder will be wearing military game day jerseys, and the sweaters will be auctioned to fans who bid on the items. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the United Service Organizations (USO at www.usa.org). Tickets are available at www.delawarethunder.com/tickets, or by calling (302) 398-PUCK.