RECAP: High Five
Five unanswered goals put Thunder on threshold of playoff berth in 6-2 win
LOVELAND, Colo. – Gabriel Levesquescored a goal and added three assists for a career high four points, helping engineer five unanswered goals by the Stockton Thunder (30-25-5, 65 points) in a 6-2 rout of the Colorado Eagles before 5,289 fans at Budweiser Events Center on Wednesday.
The Thunder, who moved within two points of clinching their sixth consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berth, buried ten goals over the two last games in Colorado and finished at 4-5-0 against the Eagles this season. They also moved to five points behind Colorado for fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Thunder can clinch a playoff berth on Friday if they win in Utah, or if Bakersfield loses in regulation at Idaho, or by a combination of Thunder and Condors losses in overtime or a shootout.
Matt Reber collected three assists and Jody Pederson, Max Campbell, Chris D’Alvise, Jordan Fulton and Kevin Baker also scored to aid the Thunder offense.
Goaltender Thomas Heemskerk earned the win with 26 saves.
Four combined goals by both teams spelled a 2-2 tie through one period, beginning with Fulton’s 11th goal of the season 3:33 into the game when he deflected Reber’s blueline shot past Colorado goaltender Kyle Jones.
Back to back power play goals put the Eagles ahead, 2-1 beginning with Steve Haddon’s deflection at the goal mouth at 10:07 on a 5-on-3 situation. Joey Sides then converted on a screen, set up by Ben Chiarot’s one timer just 57 seconds later for the lead.
The Thunder beat the horn for a 2-2 tie when D’Alvise converted Cameron Brodie’s long outlet pass and beat Jones off the rush with a wrist shot from the left circle with 4.9 seconds left.
With both teams battling for control, the Thunder earned momentum when Garet Hunt dropped the gloves with Gord Burnett of Colorado at the 5:06 mark of the second period.
The rally then kicked into high gear following the scrap, continued by Pederson’s first goal of the season on a rocket shot from the left point, set up by Levesque for a 3-2 Thunder lead at the 8:51 mark.
Levesque then went to the goal mouth and re-directed Fulton’s feed from behind the net past Jones with 8:35 left for a 4-2 edge.
Baker’s power play goal from the left circle extended the lead to 5-2 with 6:47 left in the period, set up by Nathan Deck’s blast from the high slot that bounced off Jones’ pad and produced a rebound to Baker, who was left open.
An altercation behind the net in the third period left Colorado short of two men and Campbell capitalized with his ninth goal of the season with 2:54 remaining, firing a slap shot past Jones from between the circles after Levesque connected with Campbell on a tape to tape pass from the right side.
Jones took the loss with 27 stops.
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 outshot Colorado, 33-28 and earned their first win in Colorado since Oct. 22 … Reber’s three point output tied a career high … since his return from the AHL, Brodie is +5 in two games and recorded an assist in the Wednesday victory … Stockton reached the 30 win plateau for the fifth time in club history.
The Thunder continues the road trip on Friday, visiting the Utah Grizzlies at 6:05 p.m. The game will be carried on radio (subject to change) 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/.
1. STK – 12 Gabriel Levesque
2. STK – 4 Jody Pederson
3. STK – 10 Chris D’Alvise