RECAP: High Voltage
Thunder takes 1-0 series lead to open Kelly Cup Playoffs
STOCKTON, Calif. –
STOCKTON, Calif. –Goaltender Olivier Roy made 35 saves in his postseason debut and the Stockton Thunder never trailed en route to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Eagles in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal at Stockton Arena on Tuesday.
The Thunder opened the Kelly Cup Playoffs and best of five series in impressive manner, owning the shots advantage at 45-36 and scoring the first three goals of the game. Garet Hunt, Jesse Fratkin and Chris D’Alvise scored for Stockton, who improved to 5-4 lifetime in Game 1 scenarios.
“I thought we played a solid game,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “I thought our execution was where it needed to be. I thought our energy level was good. In the first 40 minutes we played exactly how I wanted us to play.”
Colorado, who lost in their ECHL playoff debut, earned its only goal on a third period marker from Aaron Slattengren.
Hunt’s first goal of the postseason lifted the Thunder to a 1-0 edge just 3:10 into the game, crashing the net for a rebound that was initially set up on a feed by Greg Squires to Hunt on a one timer in the slot.
Roy kept Colorado at bay with 12 saves in the first period and made his most impressive save on a Jordan Baker breakaway.
The Thunder boosted the lead to 2-0 in the middle frame just seconds after Jordan Fulton nearly missed on an outnumbered shorthanded attack. Fratkin converted off a 2-on-1 rush for a shorthanded goal with 9:18 left in the second period when he beat Kyle Jones with a wrist shot at the left circle.
With the Thunder holding Colorado back to just two power play chances through 40 minutes – the Eagles came into the postseason with the league’s fifth ranked man advantage – the two goal lead carried into the third period.
D’Alvise made good on the Thunder’s second power play of the game at 4:29 of the third period when he roofed a rebound over Jones’ blocker for a 3-0 Thunder edge. D’Alvise skated to the rebound after Jones stopped Max Campbell’s one timer in the slot.
Slattengren got Colorado on the board at 6:08 of the period with a rebound goal.
Roy faced his busiest workload in the final period and turned away 15 shots, paired with a Joey Sides elbowing penalty with 1:46 left in the game to help seal the win.
“All in all, you always hope to win game one, it’s a big game and a good effort,” said Thomas. “The first one is always the hardest one.”
NOTES: Scratched for the game were Matt Reber (healthy) and Brock Matheson (healthy) … Stockton improved to 2-0 when they hosted Game 1 – it’s last occurrence came in 2009 against Las Vegas in the Pacific Division Final (second round) … the Thunder’s last Game 1 win came in 2010 against Bakersfield in the second round – it was also the last time the Thunder won a playoff series … Thunder owner Brad Rowbotham was in attendance at the game.
The Thunder hosts Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Colorado Eagles (best of five series) tomorrow, starting at 7:00 p.m. Radio coverage for the game will be available at 1280 AM KWSX and online coverage is available 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 – 31 Olivier Roy
2. STK – 24 Garet Hunt
3. STK – 13 Jesse Fratkin