Thunder Finish Regular Season in Style
The Thunder finished off their regular season with a 6-1 rout over the Las Vegas Wranglers Saturday night, ending the season with a victory over every team in the Western Conference.
“We wanted to finish on a good note going into the playoffs,” said Head Coach Rich Kromm. “I thought we had some pretty good efforts on the road and didn’t get the results we wanted so coming home tonight in front of a good crowd on our last game and get that type of effort I thought was very positive.”
The Thunder began the game with constant offensive pressure in front of Las Vegas goaltender Mitch O’Keefe, ultimately connecting for 2 goals in a 45 second span late in the first period. The first of those tallies came from forward Ryan Hayes.
After receiving the puck from forward Adam Brace, forward Corey Trivino blasted the slap-shot toward O’Keefe, which drew a false reaction from the fans as they thought the shot went in. Hayes was at the side of the net and capitalized on the loose puck flipping the puck in for the 1-0 lead.
Still riding the momentum from the first goal, the Thunder stormed back to again beat the Las Vegas netminder. With control of the puck, forward Jeremy Langlois passed the puck to forward Andrew Clark who was wide open in the right circle, with the rookie from Brandon, Manitoba one-timing the puck into the empty net, doubling the Thunder lead late in the first period.
Las Vegas would respond early in the second period, connecting on their first power play of the night. With Thunder defenseman Marc Cantin in the box for roughing, Las Vegas blue-liner Charlie Cook connected with a slap-shot from the point to cut the Thunder lead in half. This was the lone goal Thunder netminder Brian Foster surrendered as he stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced.
“We wanted to end the game on a good note coming into the game tonight,” said Foster. “It’s always nice having a game where you finish it and you’re feeling good.”
The Thunder again found their scoring touch in the third period when they accounted for 4 goals in the final frame. Just 2:52 into the third, former San Francisco Bull captain Scott Langdon took the shot right off the faceoff win from Clark which forward Matt Bergland deflected past O’Keefe to increase the lead to 3-1.
Then later in the third the Thunder connected on a similar play, this time it was defenseman Ryan Constant, who after the game was recognized by being awarded as the team Defensive Player of the Year, took the slap-shot which was deflected by forward Joey Martin and again by Langlois for the 4-1 Thunder lead with 9:14 left on the clock.
From that point on the Thunder picked up two more goals, the first from forward Trivino and the second from Bergland.
Trivino’s goal was all about effort as he stripped the puck from a Vegas defenseman behind the net after a fumbled exchange between the defenseman and his goaltender. O’Keefe was late getting back to the net which gave Trivino ample time to wrap the puck around and in for the 5-1 lead.
The final tally was another example of tenacious play as Bergland hopped on a loose puck, out waited the goaltender who was down on the ice and out a shot that put the Thunder up 6-1.
After the game, the Thunder announced their Team Awards with Captain Garet Hunt going home with two awards; the Fan Favorite and the Unsung Hero Award.
“It’s definitely a huge part of why I just love playing in Stockton,” said Hunt. “My favorite part about Stockton is having friends and family here but also playing in front of the fans. It’s the same reason why I come back ever single year, I think they are the best fans in the ECHL. The friends that I have made outside the arena through hockey, its home to me here now.”
The Thunder’s Rookie of the Year Award was given to forward James Henry who was a healthy scratch in the regular season finale, but finished the season with 66 games played, 14 goals, 22 assists and 36 points.
To wrap up the awards, Martin also collected the final two, the first the Offensive Player of the Year and the coveted Team MVP.
“Obviously it’s an honor getting these awards but I’ve been very fortunate to play with a lot of good players this year,” said Martin. “Coach has put me in a lot of good situations where I can be productive so I am very thankful for that.”
Following the season finale, the Thunder now have five days off before they host the Ontario Reign for the first two games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30.The first 2,500 fans in the building will receive a special Garet Hunt collector’s card.
The Thunder then host the second game of the series the following night with the same scheduled puck drop, 7:30., with the first 2,500 fans entering Stockton Arena receiving the second card in the set, a Ryan Constant trading card.
The Thunder then shift to Ontario and would return home for the fifth game of the series if necessary. That game on April, 26, is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
There are two more cards to get and all you have to do is take your cards over to the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, and upon purchase at Delta Bistro, you’ll receive either an Andrew Clark or Joey Martin card.
The schedule for the first round is posted below with the dates and times of the away games in Ontario.
Game 1 4/18 @ Stockton = 7:30PM (STH Ticket A)
Game 2 4/19 @ Stockton = 7:30 PM (STH Ticket B)
Game 3 4/22 @ Ontario = 7:00 PM
Game 4 4/23 @ Ontario = 7:00PM
Game 5 4/26 @ Stockton = 7:30 PM (STH Ticket C)
Game 6 4/27 @ Ontario = 5:00 PM
Game 7 4/29 @ Ontario = 7:00 PM
blog comments powered by