RECAP: Party on Hold

Friday, 03.09.12 / 11:14 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Playoff clinch put on hold for one night, Reber nets lone Thunder goal

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

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Prospect Mitch Wahl scored one goal and added two assists to help the Utah Grizzlies defeat the Stockton Thunder (30-26-5, 65 points), 4-1, before 5,515 fans at Maverik Center on Friday night.

The Thunder earned a tie for a Kelly Cup Playoff berth after Bakersfield lost in a shootout, 2-1 at Idaho. The Thunder can seize an outright clinch tomorrow if they win, lose in overtime or in a shootout or if Bakersfield loses.

Gabriel Levesque's assist on the second period goal to Matt Reber gave him six points in the last four games. (photo by Sean Blair)

Matt Reber had the only Thunder goal, scoring in his return to Maverik Center for the first time since he left Utah via a trade in January. Andrew Engelage earned the win with 30 saves.

“We didn’t have our legs tonight, but we did an equal amount of poor things when we did make a good play,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “I thought it was a slow game for the first 40 minutes and we had an opportunity to take over by keeping things simple. Hopefully with a better effort and better focus, we’ll see more out of everybody tomorrow.”

Utah went up 1-0 on Ross Carlson’s second goal of the year with 7:55 left when he capitalized off a broken play and stashed a wrist shot under the crossbar from the left circle.

Reber retaliated to tie the game, 1-1 at the 8:37 mark of the second period. He corralled Gabriel Levesque’s saucer pass at the right wing, raced behind the Utah defense and beat Engelage with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Following a Thunder turnover at center ice, Wahl restored the Utah lead at 2-1 with 5:40 left in the period when he buried a rebound at the left post, following Thomas Heemskerk’s stop on Kory Falite from the slot.

Utah entered the game at a 2-of-35 skid on the power play but came to life with back to back man advantage goals in the third period, extending their lead to 3-1 on Colin Vock’s fluke deflection at the goal mouth with 12:22 remaining.

Following a boarding penalty to Cameron Brodie, a slapshot by Ryan Turek from the high slot lifted the Grizzlies to a 4-1 advantage with 5:12 left in regulation.

Heemskerk took the loss with 33 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) … Utah owned the edge in shots, 37-31 … Levesque’s assist was his sixth point in the last four games … the game was the first meeting at Maverik Center between both teams since last year’s first round series in the playoffs … Stockton fell to 1-1-1 in this year’s series.

The Thunder concludes the road trip tomorrow, 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/.

THREE STARS
1. UTA – 7 Mitch Wahl
2. UTA – 4 David Strathman
3. UTA – 48 Ross Carlson