RECAP: Seventh Heaven

Sunday, 11.04.12 / 12:23 AM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

8,018 fans enjoy Saturday night rout, Cornet and Rajala combine for 7 points

FINAL STATS: Box score
AUDIO: Game highlights – Thunder Replay
VIDEO: Matt Reber’s amazing highlight reel goal
VIDEO: Full highlights and postgame reaction – Matt Thomas

By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer

STOCKTON, Calif. – Philippe Cornet had a four point night while Toni Rajala posted two goals and an assist to lead the Stockton Thunder (6-1-1, 13 points) offense in a 7-4 blowout win over the Alaska Aces before a crowd of 8,018 at Stockton Arena on Saturday.

The Thunder, who claimed its sixth win in the last seven games and looks for a three game sweep tomorrow in its “Thunder Goes Pink VII” event, had all but five skaters register a goal or assist in the game.

“We have a lot of good players,” Rajala said. “We have three great lines and each of them scored tonight.”

The back-and-forth action started on a Thunder power play when Rajala’s shot was deflected toward forward Matt Reber, who sent a backhanded pass to Cornet in front of goal. Cornet’s shot flew into the side of the net to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead at 6:27 of the first period.

The Thunder would double their lead not even two minutes later. Center Harrison Reed stole the puck on the rush, firing a shot at Alaska goaltender Mark Guggenberger. The puck redirected off Guggenberger’s glove to Justin Maylan, who buried it in the back of the net for a 2-0 lead at 8:21 into the opening period.

Alaska would respond shortly on a power play. Brandon Dubinsky – one of three NHL experienced players on the Aces roster – was left open at the right circle and put a one timer past Thunder goaltender Tyler Bunz to cut his team’s deficit to a goal at 10:51 into the first. Then at 15:28 into the period, Dubinsky re-directed Kane Lafranchise’s point shot to tie the game at 2-2.

The Thunder took the lead back early in the second period. Cornet stripped the puck from an Alaska defenseman, and then dished it off to Rajala who took the puck to the wide left side of the zone. He blasted a shot past Guggenberger’s glove side to lift the Thunder to a 3-2 lead just 1:46 into the second period.

At 9:57 of the second period, an Alaska break saw Nick Mazzolini shoot the puck off Bunz’s pad. The deflection went right to Garry Nunn, who put the rebound past a diving Bunz to tie the game at 3-3.

Later on in the period, defenseman Kevin Noble passed to new defenseman Jordan Henry, who made his Thunder debut. Henry’s shot deflected to Reed, who flicked it past Guggenberger to give the Thunder another lead, 4-3 at 13:18 into the second period.

Minutes later, defenseman Tony DeHart took a pass from Cornet and found Rajala all alone by the Alaska goal. Rajala converted the chance to increase the Thunder lead to 5-3 15:06 into the period. That goal sent Guggenberger to the bench and put Brooks Ostergard in the Aces net.

The goaltender change did not stop the Thunder as just 2:16 into the third period, forward Yannick Riendeau buried a shot from the mid slot for his first goal of the season, upping the Thunder lead to 6-3.

Defenseman Nathan Deck passed across the ice to Reber, who picked up speed at the right wing. Reber deked his way around Alaska defenseman William Wrenn, moved on goal and put a backhander under the crossbar for a highlight reel goal and 7-3 lead just 4:35 into the third period.

Tom Mele wrapped up the scoring with his third goal of the season at 7:14 of the final period.

“Success on this type of a weekend is important,” Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said, “It’s important for us as a team and an organization. It was nice to play well today, but we want to make sure we show up tomorrow.”

Harrison Reed beat Mark Guggenberger for a goal in the second period. (photo by Asvitt Photogrpahy)

In victory, Bunz (4-1-1) made 28 saves on 32 shots. Guggenberger fell to 4-2-0. The Thunder improved to 3-1-0 at Stockton Arena on the year.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Mike Little, Cameron Brodie, Phil Mangan, Jesse Fratkin, Matt Bergland, and Evan Vossen … Thunder owner Brad Rowbotham was in attendance at the game … Stockton improved to 11-1-3 all time in the Thunder Goes Pink series … the Thunder wore black jerseys with pink bolts and skated on pink ice – a traditional part of the event … Rajala has collected seven points in his last five games.

Thunder Goes Pink VII will conclude tomorrow, as the Thunder will duel with Alaska again at 4:00 p.m. (StocktonThunder.com) to wrap up the weekend at Stockton Arena.

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.

THREE STARS:
1. STK – T. Rajala
2. STK – P. Cornet
3. AK – B. Dubinsky

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