“Rough & Ready Islanders” Open Five Game Set in Alaska
The Stockton Thunder (22-16-0-4) open up a five-game set on the road against the Alaska Aces (27-11-2-1) tonight at Sullivan Arena. The Thunder and Aces square off three times this weekend followed by match-ups on Tuesday and Thursday next week. Tonight’s game gets underway at 8:15 p.m. PST (7:15 p.m. AKT).
The Thunder will be playing as the “Rough & Ready Islanders” for the first two games of the series as part of the ECHL’s Hockey Heritage Weekend. The team is wearing special edition jerseys based on the uniforms of their NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders. Alaska also has a special uniform for the Friday and Saturday night contests, wearing a jersey based on their NHL affiliate, the Calgary Flames, original jerseys.
Tonight’s game is also special as it will be aired on local and national TV. Thunder fans can catch the game live in the Stockton market by tuning in to Antenna TV (KTXL.2) FOX40’s digital channel. The game will also be broadcast on tape delay by Comcast Sportsnet California on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and once again on the NHL Network starting at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. The game will also be carried online through AmericaONE while fans can listen to free live audio through Spreaker.com andStocktonThunder.com.
This game is the first meeting of the season between the Thunder and Aces who last saw each other in the 2013 Kelly Cup playoffs where Stockton ousted Alaska in the Western Conference semi-finals in six games. The Thunder won two of the games in that series in Anchorage including a 4-3 overtime win on April 30, in game six to send the team to the Western Conference Final. However, the Thunder struggled against Alaska in the regular season, losing all six of their visits to Sullivan Arena, as the team went 2-6-0-2 against the Aces overall.
The “Rough & Ready Islanders” come into tonight’s contest having just snapped a three-game losing skid in their previous outing, a 6-3 win over the Ontario Reign. It was the team’s fourth straight victory on Ontario’s home ice in a game where they tied their mark for most goals scored in a road game this season. Six different players found the back of the net, with five of them having multi-point nights. Goaltender Parker Milner picked up his fourth win of the season, making 31 saves in the process.
One of the players with a solid outing against the Reign was forward Joey Martin who had a goal and an assist to bring his total to 41 points this season. Martin is seventh in the ECHL in total points and the only Thunder player in the top 20 in that category. Martin is also tied for the fourth most assists in the league with 30 helpers.
Forward Greg Miller also had another good game as the rookie from Cornell University had his second three-point performance in three games with a goal and two assists against Ontario. Miller’s 14th goal of the season moved him into a tie for the team lead in goals scored along with captain Garet Hunt. Miller has now had at least one point in six of his last seven games, totaling 11 points in that span.
The Thunder’s power play unit also came to life after a couple difficult outings. The power play, which has led the ECHL in conversion percentage for most of the season, briefly lost the lead to the Colorado Eagles in that category going into the game. However, the Thunder responded with three power play strikes from six chances to restore themselves to the top spot with 36 goals from 173 opportunities (20.8%).
Ahead of tonight’s game, the Thunder have added a new player to the roster with defenseman Andrey Pedan being assigned from the team’s NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders. Pedan has played in nine games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season tallying five points. The 20-year-old rookie from Moscow, Russia is a third round pick of the Islanders from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Alaska comes into tonight’s game in the midst of an eight-game home stand. The Aces won two of three meetings with the Idaho Steelheads this past week to help increase their lead in the Mountain Division standings. However, that lead is now just two points over the Colorado Eagles who have won three games in a row, including two against the Las Vegas Wranglers in the midweek. Alaska has played two fewer games than Colorado though.
The Aces could provide the Thunder/Rough & Ready Islanders with one of their most difficult test of the season as they come into the game with a dangerous offense and a stifling defense. The Anchorage based team leads the ECHL with the most shots taken and the fewest shots allowed per game. Alaska also has more shutouts than any other ECHL team this season, blanking their opponents eight times.
Forward Peter Sivak is the team’s leader in goals, assists and points with 14 tallies and 32 helpers for a total of 46 points in 37 games. Goaltender Gerald Coleman looks to be the starter for tonight’s contest, coming into the game with a 4-1-1 record and a .909 save percentage.
Alaska also has a few recent additions to the roster. Forwards Evan Trupp and Turner Elson have been assigned to the team from the Aces’ AHL affiliate, the Abbottsford Heat. Trupp is tied for third on the team in points with 30 in 33 games with Alaska this season, while Elson has yet to play a game in the ECHL in his career. Alaska also brought in forwards Brett Findlay and Jordan Morrison last week after the San Francisco Bulls ceased operations.
This is the third of seven straight games on the road for the Thunder, their longest road trip of the season. The team does not return to Stockton Arena until February 15, when they host the Utah Grizzlies on Star Wars night. The Thunder will also be using the “Rough & Ready Islanders” moniker at home this season, wearing their special edition jerseys on March 22, when Alaska comes to Stockton for the first time.
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