RECAP: We Can Be Heroes
Brodie lifts Thunder to victory with 15.3 seconds left in regulation
LAS VEGAS – Cameron Brodie’s
LAS VEGAS – Cameron Brodie’sfirst goal in two seasons snapped a tie game with 15.3 seconds left in regulation and lifted the Stockton Thunder (2-1-1, 5 points) to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers before 4,584 fans at Orleans Arena on Saturday.
Brodie, who buried a wrist shot off the rush, capped another victory for Stockton that featured last minute heroics against the Wranglers in the last four seasons.
Brodie joined Matt Robinson (2009-10) and Bretton Cameron (2011-12) as Thunder players who scored a game winning goal against Las Vegas in the last minute of play for regulation.
“I’d like to think that because (Las Vegas head coach Ryan Mougenel) and I know each other so well that the games are going to be close,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “I’m happy we won. I’m not too happy how we kept giving them opportunities to get back in the game, but it’s just two good teams that are exciting and play hard against each other.”
“There’s a rivalry there,” said Thomas. “Both teams play to the final buzzer against each other.”
Goaltender Cody Reichard, making his first start in the pro ranks, earned the win with 26 stops.
The game, which featured three game tying goals in the last two periods, got off to a start with two Thunder goals on the first two shots. Toni Rajala’s first ECHL goal came just 90 seconds after the opening face-off when he converted a tape-to-tape, rinkwide pass by Philippe Cornet and blasted a slapshot from the left circle past Mitch O’Keefe’s glove.
Just 1:10 later, Harrison Reed’s first goal in a Thunder uniform extended the lead to 2-0 when he took Gabriel Levesque’s outlet pass and buried a snap shot from the right circle.
Josh Lunden cut the deficit to 2-1 with 2:19 left in the first period and Judd Blackwater followed up on a rebound at the 11:39 mark of the second period to level the score. But the Thunder quickly responded after the goal and Garet Hunt’s victory in a scrap against Adam Huxley with Phil Mangan’s first ECHL goal.
Mangan, scoring at 12:15 of the period, completed an outnumbered rush on a pass by Matt Bergland with a backhanded shot over O’Keefe’s glove from between the circles.
Rookie Adam Hughesman helped Las Vegas answer with 4:32 left in the period on a power play goal, tying the game at 3-3 when he stashed a rebound in the crease.
Bergland got on the scoresheet with 8:20 left in regulation, completing a three-on-one rush with a one timer from the right circle, set up by Matt Reber’s cross-ice pass.
The Wranglers were quick to respond again on the ensuing shift. With the Thunder failing to clear the zone, Charlie Cook’s wrister beat Reichard’s blocker from between the circles for a 4-4 tie just 26 seconds after Bergland’s goal.
Reichard made an impressive save in the final minutes when he got a blocker on Eric Lampe’s bid on a two-on-one break. Then in the final minute of play, Brodie broke up Lampe’s toe-drag attempt in the Thunder zone which quickly launched a counter-attack.
Reed skated with the puck up the right wing and whipped a pass into the slot, where Brodie quickly fired a bullet through O’Keefe’s five hole with 15.3 seconds to play.
“Great finish,” said Thomas. “You love seeing guys – who normally wouldn’t step up and score a lot of goals – to do something like that. (Brodie) made a great play defensively, joined the rush and finished it off. He’s got a great shot and it was nice to see one go in for him.”
It was Brodie’s first goal since Feb. 20, 2011 – during his rookie season – against the Victoria Salmon Kings.
The Thunder preserved the victory on the ensuing face-off and a two game trip at Las Vegas where they claimed three points in the standings.
O’Keefe took the loss with 20 saves in his season debut.
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Kevin Noble, Ryan Green, Evan Vossen, Justin Maylan, Jesse Fratkin and Shawn Boutin … Las Vegas led the game in shots at 30-25 … the Thunder is now unbeaten in regulation for five straight games against Las Vegas, dating back to last season … Bergland led all skaters with three points (1g-2a).
The Thunder returns to play on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Bakersfield, starting at 7:00 p.m. (1280 KWSX/StocktonThunder.com).
A two time recipient of the ECHL “Award of Excellence,” the Thunder led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the seventh consecutive season in 2011-12. Season Tickets, Group Tickets and Mini-Plans 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 www.StocktonThunder.com.
1. STK – C. Brodie
2. LV – A. Hughesman
3. LV – J. Lunden
All photos courtesy IAA photography