Thunder Open up Three-Game Set vs. Idaho
The Thunder are in Idaho for the first time this season and first time since the 2012-13 Western Conference Final.
The Thunder visit a team outside of California for just the second time in 2013-14 when they take on the Idaho Steelheads tonight at CenturyLink Arena. Puck drops at 6:10 p.m. PST.
Fans can catch live video of the broadcast through AmericaONE Sports or listen to live audio of the game through StocktonThunder.com and Spreaker.com. Fans can also head over to the Thunder’s “Home Away From Home” at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel to watch the game and enjoy special Thunder food and drink specials beginning an hour before the drop of the puck.
The Thunder continues their season-long five-game road trip as they look to put a tough end to the month of November behind them with a three-game set against the Steelheads. The Thunder dropped their last three games in a row, including two straight losses in regulation to Ontario and Bakersfield. Overall, the Thunder still had a winning record over the course of its 16 games in 30 days schedule, going 9-5-0-2 in that span.
Two of those wins came against the Idaho Steelheads on November 23rd and 24th. The Thunder defeated the Boise, ID based team in back-to-back games at Stockton Arena to reach, at the time, a four-game winning streak. The Thunder earned a 3-1 win in the first contest before Andrew Clark scored the game-winner in an entertaining 4-3 overtime victory the next night.
However, since that point the Thunder have been on a winless streak. The team dropped back-to-back games against Pacific Division and division-leading rival Ontario before falling on the road at Bakersfield 6-3.
The Thunder were in town for the Condors’ “Teddy Bear Toss” event and had to deal with a large home crowd throughout the game. Bakersfield got the scoring started early as Kale Kessy whipped home a rebound goal just 33 seconds into the first period to cue the rain of teddy bears from the crowd. The game was delayed for about 15 minutes as several thousand bears were scooped off the ice.
When play restarted, the Condors looked like the delay had not affected them as they added two more goals for a 3-0 lead after just 7:41 of play. The Thunder pushed back and scored on their first shot of the game midway through the period. Brayden Irwin tipped home a drive from the point by Landon Oslanski to pull one back, but Bakersfield quickly regained a three-goal lead two minutes later as Chris Collins was on hand for his second goal of the game. The Thunder continued to battle and incredibly cut the lead to one goal late in the opening frame. Irwin took a breakaway pass and scored the Thunder’s first short-handed goal of the season before Ben Rosen blasted home his 3rd goal of the year on a shot from the point.
Overall, the Thunder scored on three of their first four shots of the game, which was enough to chase starting Bakersfield netminder Tyler Bunz from the game. He was replaced by Chet Pickard at the start of the second period. It marked the second straight time this year that Bunz, a former Stockton goalie, had gotten pulled early from a game against the Thunder.
However, the move appeared to steady the ship for Bakersfield as the Condors scored an insurance goal in both the second and third period while keeping the Thunder off the board in a 6-3 win. The Thunder had just 16 shots in the game, which was tied for the lowest amount they had tallied in a single contest all season.
Idaho comes into the game with a 9-5-2-2 record on the season including a 4-3-0-1 record on home ice. The Steelheads have played just two games since its series in Stockton as they split a two-game set with the visiting Las Vegas Wranglers. Idaho came away with a 4-1 win in the first match-up before losing to Las Vegas in a shootout, 4-3 in game two.
This is the Thunder’s first visit to CenturyLink Arena since last season’s Western Conference Final, when the Thunder took the first two games of the series on away ice before finishing things off at home for a 4-1 series victory. This is Stockton’s lone visit to Boise, ID this season although the teams do meet three more times this year at Stockton Arena.
The Thunder have an off-day following tonight’s game before returning to action against Idaho on Friday and Saturday. The Thunder do not return home until Sunday, December 15th at 4:00 pm when the team looks for some revenge against the Bakersfield Condors. There are several events going on that night, as the first 2,000 fans entering Stockton Arena will receive a holiday-themed Thunder poster. It’s also a Family Day meaning fans can get a four-pack of tickets along with four hot dogs and four sodas for just $38. Finally, the Thunder will also be collecting packages of diapers to benefit the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. Any fan that donates a new pack of diapers to the cause will receive a $3 off voucher good for any Thunder home game.