Thunder Comeback Falls Short in 4-3 Loss
The Thunder got a two-goal performance from defenseman Landon Oslanski but fell to Alaska for the third time this weekend, 4-3.
The Stockton Thunder (22-19-0-5) fell to the Alaska Aces (30-11-2-1) for the third straight time this weekend on Sunday night, losing 4-3 at Sullivan Arena. The Thunder battled through 52 minutes worth of penalty time handed out, as well as the ejection of their head coach Rich Kromm, to a one-goal loss. It was their first game this weekend scoring more than two goals against the Aces.
For the first time on the weekend it was Alaska who struck first, finding the back of the net just 1:13 into the first period. Forward Brendan Connolly picked up a pass from Nick Mazzolini for a breakaway before beating Thunder goaltender Brian Foster glove side.
Connolly then returned the favor with 5:40 remaining in the opening frame as he set up Mazzolini for a one-timer goal. The Aces captain found a pocket of space to convert his chance, which made it 2-0 Alaska at the break.
The Thunder started the second period on a strong note as defenseman Landon Oslanski blasted a slap shot from the right point that beat Aces goalie Gerald Coleman on the blocker side high. It was the seventh goal of the season for the 21-year-old rookie out of Camrose, Alberta, scoring 1:35 into the period.
However, Alaska quickly reestablished their two goal edge just 21 seconds later. Peter Sivak was able to knock in a goal on a back door pass by defenseman Drew MacKenzie. With the tally, all three members of the Aces top line, Mazzolini, Sivak and Connolly, have scored at least three goals apiece in their three games against the Thunder.
Oslanski was able to cut the lead to one once again with yet another goal. It was a carbon copy of his first effort as Oslanski found the net with a blast from the right wing point over the blocker of Coleman to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Things heated up towards the end of the second period. With 1:29 remaining, Thunder leading point scorer and alternate captain Joey Martin was hit into the boards by Alaska defenseman Zach Davies. Martin suffered a severe cut on his face and had to leave the ice. The resulting altercations led to Nick Larson receiving two minor penalties and a ten-minute misconduct while head coach Rich Kromm was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty before being ejected from the game by referee Ryan Murphy.
Mazzolini scored for Alaska on the resulting five-on-three power play, tying him for the team lead in goals with Sivak at 17 for the season. That made it 4-2 Alaska going into the third period.
The Aces played strong defensively for the remainder of the game, limiting the number of Thunder chances. The Thunder also had to deal with a string of penalties, being short-handed four times in the final period. Forward Greg Miller scored with 3:26 remaining in the third to make it 4-3, and give the Thunder a chance late on. It was Miller’s team-leading 15th goal of the season. However, a late Alaska power play allowed the Aces to maintain possession in the offensive zone for the final 1:36, as they hung on for the victory.
The Aces top line forwards combined for eight points in the game giving them a total of 21 points on the weekend. The Aces finished the game 1-for-8 on the power play while the Thunder were 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Foster made 35 saves in a losing effort for the Thunder while Coleman picked up his third straight win for the Aces, stopping 28 shots.
The Thunder now take a day off on Monday before returning to action on Tuesday night as part of their five game set with the Aces. They finish off their seven game road trip on Thursday night before returning home to Stockton. Tuesday and Thursday’s games begin at 8:15 p.m. PST. The Thunder are next in action at home on Saturday night when they host the Utah Grizzlies for Star Wars night.
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