BENTON’S BLOG: 300 Club
Okay Matt Thomas, you got me.
As fascinating storylines go on the ice for this season, this deserved to be pushed to the front.
What an evening for Thomas to crack the 300 win barrier. Last night, in a 4-3 Thunder shootout win against the league’s best Alaska Aces, Thomas joined seven other head coaches who have earned ECHL fame and nostalgia from their ability to lead teams through a long tenure, producing a heavy dosage of #winning (all apologies to Charlie Sheen).
Among those he is joining:
1) Rick Adduono, who has four 40-win seasons and a Kelly Cup ring.
2) John Marks, who built powerhouse teams in Charlotte and Greenville and totaled a pair of Kelly Cup titles along with four 40-win campaigns from those juggernauts.
3) Malcolm Cameron, who seamlessly built teams that won in the regular season year by year like a Chevy factory churning out Silverados, had four of five seasons with a .632 win percentage or greater and coached in three ECHL All Star Games.
Of the entire bunch: Thomas said he “looks up to a lot of them.” But now, they are eye to eye in the elite category.
Never getting a chance to see Thomas’ magic with the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, I’ll always remember his Fresno Falcons teams in the mid 2K decade, and how much they played with passion and aggression. A night against the Falcons meant you were in for a long one. They wore you down and they were happy to emit a passionate scream each time the puck hit the back of your net.
That’s what I knew was coming to Stockton when the Thunder hired Thomas as head coach in 2008-09.
After he took the helm, for two straight seasons, the team was among the roughest blue collar bunch that any opposing squad dared to square up to at opening faceoff time. It’s a “blue collar” mentality, all the way down to the “Sons of Thunder” theme that has carried over into a third year, reflective of the head coach’s mentality.
Even though this year may be a little different – the Thunder have been built to push tempo off the rush with a collection of skilled, bright eyed and bushy-tailed youth – the mentality remains the same:
“This is our house, and no one pushes us around.”
Last night, the Thunder pushed back at the Alaska team in a grueling fight for first place in the ECHL, and Thomas rightfully achieved the milestone win in his own house.
If you missed it – he was doused with a Gatorade shower at the team bench immediately after being saluted on the ice at the game’s conclusion. When nearly 6,000 boisterous fans finally filed out of Stockton Arena, Thomas was left in a golf shirt in his office – his suit obviously drenched, but he was smiling like a relieved college student who just finished a Chemistry 339 final exam and knew they Aced it.
“I’m just glad to get it over with and get it done here,” he said as he cracked open a cold beverage to enjoy in the office.
Well done, coach.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
It’s been bugging me for months – that Jordan Fulton has a striking resemblance to a Hollywood icon. Recently sporting an even more pronounced slicked-back ‘do, it finally became clear.
Have you seen Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas?”
Mike Benton has served the Thunder as television and radio play-by-play announcer since the team’s inception. Got a question or comment?
Follow Mike on twitter at twitter.com/Benton_mike
Mike Benton has served the Thunder as television and radio play-by-play announcer since the team’s inception. Got a question or comment? Follow Mike on twitter at twitter.com/Benton_mike