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Thunder Falter at Home to Ontario

he Thunder scored first but were unable to hold the lead against the Ontario Reign, ultimately falling to their Pacific Division rivals by a final score of 5-2 Sunday afternoon at Stockton Arena.

“We have played pretty good hockey against them the last few times and tonight we started off well again,” said Head Coach Rich Kromm. “Then they took the momentum away from us in the second period and it took too long for us to bounce back.”

The Thunder collected the first goal of the game when forward James Henry capitalized on a rebound given up by Ontario goaltender Jussi Olkinuora. With Ontario a man down, defenseman Ryan Constant blasted a shot at Olkinuora that caromed to the side of the net right to Henry’s stick. Henry swept the puck around nearly 360 degrees and stuffed the puck past the goaltender for the 1-0 Thunder lead.

“Constant took a really good shot from the point,” said Henry. “The shot was deflected in front and after I collected it my first instinct was to get it to the net as quick as possible.”

Ontario would respond to the Thunder’s powerplay goal with one of their own late in the first period. With defenseman Nathan Deck already in the box for tripping, Ontario had the extra attacker on the ice as Sean Escobedo boarded an Ontario forward behind the Stockton net. The Reign controlled the puck and played a bit of keep away with the Thunder and eventually, forward Matt White tipped in the puck after Thunder goaltender Brian Foster made the initial save off of an Everett Sheen shot.

Although the teams were tied at one after the first period, the Reign would come out and take all the momentum away from the Thunder in the second. Stockton would be outshot 16-7 in the second period while Ontario would claim the lead that they would never relinquish.

Ontario’s second goal, scored by forward Maxim Kitsyn, transpired only 6:47 into the second period. Kitsyn tallied his first ECHL goal but the defensive work of Matt Register started the whole play. Register blocked a point blank chance for J.P. Burkemper at the side of the Ontario net. After the blocked shot, Ontario would turn and burn up the ice, ultimately leading to Kitsyn’s tally.

Just over ten minutes later, Ontario took advantage of the extra ice with teams skating four aside, when forward Mario Lamoureux collected the third straight goal for the visitors and the second tally of the period. On a play that almost looked like the Reign had a power play, Cameron Burt would move the puck around and eventually find Kyle Kraemer who blasted a shot that was tipped by Lamoureux extending the Ontario lead.

Just before the midway mark in the third period, it’d be another Ontario breakout that would end in the Southern California side increasing their advantage as newly acquired defenseman Sacha Guimond beat Foster low glove side with a shot to make it 4-1.

The Thunder would strike back just over two minutes later after Matt Bergland fed Captain Garet Hunt behind the net. Hunt tried to wrap it in front, but Olkinuora made the save, however the feed came right to Greg Miller who capitalized on it to pull the Thunder within two.

“It was a good play by the defense to keep it in,” said Miller. “Hunt and Bergland were cycling low and I was just trying to find a soft spot. After Hunt tried to wrap it, it came out to me and I put it far side.”

The Thunder had a golden opportunity to try and make something happen after Ontario’s Eric Springer picked up a high sticking penalty with under a minute left in the game. With Foster on the bench the Thunder tried to capitalize with the two-man-advantage and nearly did so, but in the end, Register would seal the Ontario win when he deposited a shot into the empty net from behind his own goaltender for the Ontario win.

With the loss the Thunder now fall 12 points back of their Pacific Division rivals, a team they see only once in the month of February (Feb. 5). The Thunder are back in action Thursday when they travel to San Francisco to take on the Bulls at the Cow Palace. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 P.M. from Daly City.

While the game resulted in a loss for the Thunder, there was a big positive that happened just after the first period ended. The Thunder finished off Pink Weekend officially as a check of $19,000 was presented to St. Joseph’s Foundation – Breast Health Services. The check was accepted on the organizations behalf by Sister Abby Newton of St. Joseph’s Foundation – Breast Health Services, as well as cancer survivor and mother of five, Natalee Cooks.

The next home game is another hockey game with a cause as February 1st is the team’s “Hockey with Heart”, with event proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women. Join us at Stockton Arena to learn more about how you can prevent heart disease, and how you can help others impacted by heart health. Get your tickets now at StocktonThunder.com/Hockey_with_Heart/
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Author: Caravan News
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