RECAP: Comeback Scrapped

Saturday, 02.11.12 / 9:55 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Late Thunder rally falls short, Campbell nets second goal in as many games

FINAL STATS: Box score

LOVELAND, Colo. – Kyle Jones made 36 saves for his 21st win of the season, enough to help the Colorado Eagles escape and defeat the Stockton Thunder (23-20-5, 51 points), 4-1 before 5,289 fans at Budweiser Events Center on Saturday night.

Olivier Roy denies Joey Sides on a chance at the net, part of a 32 save effort. (photo by A.J. Nazzaro)

The Thunder, who outshot the Eagles 42-36, nearly raged back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period. After a Max Campbell goal to slice the deficit to 2-1, Stockton had a game-tying marker by Matt Foy waved off with 3:03 remaining in the game on a rebound chance that was shoved at the goal line.

Colorado added an insurance goal 33 seconds later and an empty netter by Liam Huculak to take back to back games in the weekend series.

“We didn’t get the breaks we needed tonight,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “It was unfortunate because we played well and I thought we deserved better. Their goaltender did a good job. I thought we played great and played a strong game.”

Thunder goaltender Olivier Roy stonewalled the first 12 Colorado shots – many from high quality scoring chance areas – but succumbed to Riley Nelson’s game opening goal with 7:23 left in the first period. Nelson was tied up by Brock Matheson in the slot, but benefited from Kevin Ulanski’s feed from the right circle which ricocheted off Nelson and past Roy’s blocker.

Foy had an early bid to tie the game on a late first period power play but was foiled when he pursued a rebound in the slot and had a half open net. His slot was blocked by the Eagles defense, who followed by clearing the puck.

Roy and Jones traded point blank saves in the second period to keep the 1-0 score upheld through 40 minutes. Jones denied two close range saves on Jesse Fratkin and Jordan Fulton, while Roy denied two chances by Steve Haddon and Ben Chiarot before the horn sounded.

Matt Reber muscles his way in front of Colorado defenseman Ben Chiarot for a loose puck. Chiarot was awarded a penalty shot. (photo by John Babitz)

Ben Chiarot was awarded a penalty shot with 3:41 elapsed into the third period and converted to the stick side of Roy, putting Colorado ahead 2-0.

Campbell launched the Thunder comeback attempt with his second goal in as many games and fifth of the season with 9:41 to play. He cradled Mike Little’s pass, raced behind the Colorado defense at the right circle and sniped a backhander under the crossbar.

The Thunder put in a bid to tie the game with 3:03 left, when Fulton spun a wraparound attempt on the Colorado net that Jones deflected into the crease. Foy’s whack at the rebound goal was overturned with the Thunder celebrating and the 2-1 score was upheld.

Just 33 seconds later, Ulanski found Joey Sides in the slot for a key insurance goal, lifting Colorado to a 3-1 edge.

Liam Huculak wrapped up the game with an empty net goal with 53.1 seconds left.

NOTES: Scratched for the game were Ryan Martindale (injured reserve), Nathan Deck (injured reserve), Gabriel Levesque (injured reserve), Jason Morgan (injured reserve), Colten Hayes (healthy), Jody Pederson (healthy) and Thomas Heemskerk (injured reserve) … Campbell’s third goal in nine games with the Thunder surpassed two goals in 17 games he put up with Greenville … the Thunder dropped to 1-4-0 in the head to head series.

The Thunder return home for their next game on Wednesday, Feb. 15, hosting the Ontario Reign at 7:00 p.m. at Stockton Arena. The game will be carried on radio at 1280 AM KWSX and online for viewing (pay-per-view video charge) and listening (free of charge) at www.StocktonThunder.com, courtesy of AmericaOne.

A two-time recipient of the ECHL “Award of Excellence,” Thunder was voted “Best Local Sports Team” by readers of the San Joaquin Magazine, led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the sixth consecutive season in 2010-11. Season Tickets for 2011-12 are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit http://www.stocktonthunder.com/.

THREE STARS
1. COL – 29 Kyle Jones
2. COL – 8 Ben Chiarot
3. COL – 9 Kevin Ulanski