RECAP: A Chad Too Late

Tuesday, 03.06.12 / 11:22 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Colorado edges Thunder in offensive slugfest behind Costello’s hat trick

FINAL STATS: Box score
AUDIO: Game Highlights – Thunder Replay

LOVELAND, Colo. – Chad Costello had a hat trick and added an assist to provide enough offense to help the Colorado Eagles escape a furious rally by the Stockton Thunder (29-25-5, 63 points), in a 5-4 Thunder loss at Budweiser Events Center on Tuesday.

The Thunder was stuck at a magic number of six to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth and nearly battled back four times from two goal deficits. Stockton outshot Colorado, 38-32 and were aided offensively by goals from Jason Morgan, Max Campbell, Chris D’Alvise and Jordan Fulton.

“I liked the effort and a couple of mistakes cost us,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “We need to eliminate those if we want to win games at this time of year, especially in the playoffs. Giving credit to Colorado – they were sharper than us on special teams tonight.”

After Costello's hat trick in the first period, the Thunder defense tightened up to allow only 16 shots in the last 40 minutes.

Colorado converted at a 2-of-5 rate on the power play.

Six combined goals headlined a wild and wide open pace in the first period, including Costello’s hat trick. He put the Eagles up 1-0 on an early power play just 1:18 into the game, stashing a wrist shot from the left circle.

Ben Chiarot then converted Liam Huculak’s centering pass from behind the net for a 2-0 edge at the 9:18 mark.

The Thunder got back into the game trailing 2-1 on Morgan’s first goal of the season with 4:47 left in the period when he capitalized on a screen, deflecting Jody Pederson’s point shot past Kyle Jones, who would eventually take the win with 34 stops.

On the very next shift and just 16 seconds later, Costello slipped behind the Thunder defense and scored his second of the game for a 3-1 Colorado lead.

The Thunder issued another valiant response on Campbell’s eighth goal of the year with 3:09 remaining in the period, completing D’Alvise’s tape to tape centering feed from the right circle.

Costello complete the hat trick effort with 33.8 seconds left in the period when he broke free down the right wing and hammered a slap shot past Thomas Heemskerk.

Another response by the Thunder, courtesy of D’Alvise’s fifth goal of the season, cut the gap to 4-3 with 3:58 elapsed in the second period when he walked out from behind the net and beat Jones with a wrist shot from the slot.

Late in the period, D’Alvise had a quality chance turned away when he stripped Colorado’s Kevin Ulanski of the puck at the Thunder blueline, and raced up ice on a near breakaway. His wrist shot from the left circle was stopped by Jones’ right pad.

Early in the third period, another open scoring chance was turned away when Garet Hunt was set up in the slot. He fired a wrist shot that Jones stopped with the blocker.

Kevin Ulanski then gave the Eagles a key insurance goal on the power play with 11:14 left in the third period when he snuck a wrist shot past a screen and Heemskerk from the right circle.

Colorado then threatened to blow the game open after another penalty late in the third period, but the Thunder retaliated to cut the gap to 5-4 with a shorthanded goal by Fulton, coming with 6:33 left when he beat Jones at the blocker side on a breakaway.

The Thunder fell short of the game tying goal despite earning a 6-on-4 skating advantage after a late penalty to Colorado’s Kyle with 23 seconds left in the game.

Heemskerk took the loss with 27 saves.

NOTES: Scratched for the game were Tony DeHart (injured reserve), Sebastian Owuya (injured reserve), Matt Foy (injured, day to day) and Cameron Abney (injured reserve) … the Thunder fell to 3-5-0 in the season series against Colorado … Colorado clinched a Kelly Cup Playoff berth with the victory … D’Alvise led the Thunder offense with a goal and assist.

The Thunder returns to play tomorrow, continuing a four game road trip at Colorado which begins at 6:05 p.m.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 2012-13 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 – 13 Chad Costello
2. COL – 29 Kyle Jones
3. STK – 10 Chris D’Alvise