RECAP: Reber Fever

Wednesday, 03.28.12 / 11:31 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Reber’s heroic goal in the final minutes of play claims victory in Boise

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

BOISE, Idaho – Matt Reber broke a 2-2 tie on a game winning goal coming with 2:57 left in regulation to lift the Stockton Thunder (34-31-5, 73 points) to a 3-2 victory over the Idaho Steelheads before 3,761 fans at Century Link Arena on Wednesday night.

Olivier Roy earned his 6th win in the last 7 decisions and shut out Idaho through 40 minutes. (photo by Sean Blair)

The goal was Reber’s 11th on the season and the win guaranteed the Thunder of a finish of no lower than sixth place in the Western Conference. Stockton moved to within two points of claiming the conference’s fifth seed in the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs and was aided in additional goals by Max Campbell and Gabriel Levesque.

Goaltender Olivier Roy improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven decisions with 33 saves.

“We talked about winning the third period at all costs regardless of what happened and I liked that we did it,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “It was a real good effort by us. Our second period was fantastic. Matt scored a great goal and needs to use his speed to push the defense back – he’s got a great shot. All in all, everybody played well tonight.”

Campbell got the Thunder on the board just 4:04 into the game, converting Gabriel Levesque’s centering attempt at the left circle.

Roy and Idaho goaltender Jerry Kuhn followed by embarking on a goaltending duel through the first 40 minutes and the Thunder pounded Kuhn with 21 shots in the second period.

Chad Nehring’s 16th goal of the season tied the game at 1-1 just 6:37 into the third period on his rebound attempt that was produced by Matt Case’s point shot.

Idaho then threatened to take the lead several shifts later when Derek LeBlanc fed Jacob Cepis on a saucer pass during a 2-on-1 rush. Cepis fired a shot over Roy’s blocker which caught the crossbar and needed an official’s review to confirm an overturned goal after Idaho celebrated a presumed 2-1 lead.

Levesque gave the Thunder the 2-1 lead instead with 7:13 left in regulation when he blasted a one-timer past Kuhn from the left circle, finishing Campbell’s set up from behind the left goal line.

Case’s fourth goal of the season, just 1:08 later, leveled the game at 2-2 when his slapshot from the right point deflected into the net off Roy’s glove.

Reber’s heroics then came after both teams traded quality scoring chances in the ensuing minutes. The Thunder carefully worked the puck out of their own zone and Garet Hunt sprung Reber with a pass up the left wing. Reber rifled a wrist shot past Kuhn’s blocker for a 3-2 lead with 2:57 left.

Idaho failed to capitalize with an extra attacker in the last minute of play and Kuhn took the loss in a 34 save effort.

NOTES: Scratched for the game were Kevin Baker (injured, day to day) and Cameron Brodie (bereavement leave) … the win guaranteed the Thunder would finish with a winning record for 2011-12 … Stockton outshot Idaho, 37-35 … Campbell’s goal and assist gave him 16 points in the last 16 games.

The Thunder returns to play on Friday at Century Link Arena against the host Idaho Steelheads at 6:10 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. STK – 28 Matt Reber
2. IDH – 33 Matt Case
3. IDH – 23 Chad Nehring