Thunder Face-Off with Grizzlies in Utah
The Stockton Thunder (28-24-0-6) face the Utah Grizzlies (30-21-3-5) for the fourth time in five games tonight, on the road. The puck drops at 6:05 p.m. PST at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, UT.
Fans can watch the game at the Thunder’s “Home Away From Home” the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, while enjoying food and drink specials. The broadcast begins at 5:45 p.m. PST with the Black Oak Casino Resort pre-game show. Fans can also watch live streaming video through AmericaONE Sports or listen to free live audio through Spreaker.com and StocktonThunder.com.
The Thunder are coming off of a 3-2 loss to Las Vegas on Sunday in their first match-up of the season with the Wranglers. Defenseman Sean Escobedo scored two goals in the defeat, which was the team’s second in a row over the weekend.
This is the Thunder’s second and final road trip to Utah this regular season. The teams split a two-game set back in January and earned one win each in their series this past weekend in Stockton. Overall, the Thunder are 6-2-0-1 against the Grizzlies in nine total contests this year. Six of the nine games have been decided by just one goal. They meet up twice more in April at Stockton Arena for the Thunder’s Military Appreciation Weekend.
Forward Ryan Hayes has been the Thunder’s go-to weapon against Utah with 10 points in just five games against the Grizzlies this season. Hayes has had multi-point games in four out of those five contests. The 24-year-old’s five goals against Utah are three more than the next closest Thunder player.
Corey Trivino is behind Hayes with seven points against Utah on two goals and five assists. Thunder captain Garet Hunt is the overall team-leader in points (36) of players currently on the roster.
Forward Nick Tremblay and defenseman Mike Keenan will both miss tonight’s game with injuries sustained from hits by Utah forward Danick Paquette. Tremblay was injured in the second period of Friday’s game while Keenan was hit during the first period of Saturday’s contest.
Utah is led by forward David Vallorani who has posted 14 points in nine games against Stockton. The 24-year-old from Hamilton, ON has a team-high 45 points and is first on the team in goals (22) and third on the team in assists (23). Vallorani had a three-point performance, with two goals and one assist, against the Thunder in Utah’s 4-1 win on Saturday in the teams’ most recent meeting.
Igor Bobkov will once again get the start in goal for Utah as the only goaltender currently under contract on the roster, due to Aaron Dell’s call-up to the AHL by the Abbottsford Heat. Bobkov is 2-2-0 against the Thunder this year and will be starting his fourth straight game against the team.
The Thunder have some fresh faces on the roster with rookie forwards Joey Diamond and Alan Quine set to make their ECHL debuts after being assigned from Stockton’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Diamond, 24, has posted 12 points in 36 games for Bridgeport this season. The Long Beach, NY native graduated from the University of Maine last season after leading the team in goals scored as a captain his senior year. Diamond, a 5’8” forward, left Maine as the Black Bear’s all-time leader in penalty minutes with 467 in 135 career games.
Quine, 21, comes to the Thunder as the Sound Tiger’s current-leading scorer with 25 points. The rookie from Ottawa, ON played four seasons in the OHL with three different teams and was a sixth round draft pick of the Islanders last year. As part of the roster moves, Adam Brace and Riley Wetmore were recalled to Bridgeport.
Following tonight’s game, the Thunder return home to Stockton to prepare for a two-game weekend set against the Alaska Aces. On Saturday, the Thunder will be wearing their special-edition “Rough & Ready Islanders” jerseys for the only time on home ice this season. The jerseys, previously worn in Alaska during the ECHL’s Hockey Heritage event in February, will be auctioned off in a variety of ways including a live post-game auction, silent auction and online auction.
Additionally, Saturday is also “Law and Order Night” with police officers, emergency responders and more being celebrated at the game. A portion of tickets sold for the event will be donated to the Stockton Police Officers Association. For more information, visit StocktonThunder.com.
Saturday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. PST. Fans are asked to take extra time to get to Stockton Arena as Interstate 5, Southbound West Fremont Street off-ramp will be closed for the weekend. Fans driving south to the arena can detour through the Monte Diablo off-ramp to get to Fremont Street.
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