RECAP: Thunder Rolling

Friday, 11.16.12 / 11:26 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Offensive success on home ice continues as Thunder roll over Grizzlies

FINAL STATS: Box score
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame comments from Matt Thomas

By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer

STOCKTON, Calif. – After matching team records in their previous matchup with the Utah Grizzlies, the Stockton Thunder (9-3-1, 20 points) brought the offense back home to Stockton Arena, as the Thunder connected for four straight goals in a 6-2 win over the Grizzlies in front of 5,373 fans on Friday.

Forwards Philippe Cornet (2 goals, 1 assist) and Toni Rajala (1 goal, 2 assists) paced the Thunder with three points apiece. Rajala’s effort made it the tenth-consecutive game in which he has registered a point.

In goal, Tyler Bunz (7-2-1) recorded 25 saves for the win, while Utah’s Grant Rollheiser stopped 36.

“[Rajala] and I bring skill,” Cornet said. “Toni has a great shot and great vision. [Eric] Hunter is probably the unsung hero in out lineup right now. He doesn’t get as many points as us, but he’s doing a great job. He wins face-offs and creates space for us. That makes out job a lot easier.”

Making his return to the Thunder was defenseman Dan Ringwald, who had spent the beginning of the season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. Ringwald, who played with the Thunder for the last two seasons, cashed in on his 2012-13 home season debut very quickly.

He collected the puck from center Justin Maylan just inside the blue line and fired a slap shot past Rollheiser just 2:18 into the first period, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead.

The Grizzlies tied the game soon after. Kory Falite passed to Bryan Cameron, who slipped a wrist shot past Bunz from the left circle to make the count 1-1 8:20 into the opening period.

The Thunder response came just 52 seconds later. Center Phil Mangan sent a pass across the ice to forward Matt Reber, who took it to the crease. Reber’s backhand shot was stopped by Rollheiser, but the rebound was scooped up by forward Cameron Abney, also returning from Oklahoma City. Abney slotted it home to restore the Thunder lead, 2-1.

“[Abney and Ringwald] were good,” Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said. “It was nice to see a guy like Abney get rewarded with a good looking goal. It was great passing by Reber and Mangan. It was a real nice goal by Ringwald. One thing that everyone’s on him to do is shoot. And he shot.”

Minutes later, defenseman Ryan Constant found Cornet just above the circles on a power play. Surrounded by Grizzlies, Cornet fired a shot at goal. His wrist shot sailed into the net, increasing the Thunder to 3-1 lead at 11:12 into the first period.

Philippe Cornet was named first star of the game with a two goal and one assist effort. (photo by Asvitt Photogrpahy)

Less than two minutes into the second period, the Thunder struck again. As he fell down just outside the left circle, defenseman Nathan Deck found Rajala behind the Utah goal. Rajala carried the puck around, finding a charging Cornet, who put the puck away for his second goal of the game. The Thunder lead was upped to 4-1 just 1:54 into the second frame.

At 14:11 of the second period, center Eric Hunter sent in a shot from the blue line. The puck deflected off Cornet’s stick to a waiting Rajala on the right post. Rajala finished off the deflection, increasing the Thunder lead to 5-1.

Utah would cut the lead to 5-2 on a five-on-three power play. Josh Burrows found the net from just above the circles at 6:13 into the third period.

On a power play, defenseman Mike Little, returning after missing eight games due to injury, found forward Kristians Pelss, who worked the puck to an open Deck on the right post. Deck converted the chance to put the game at 6-2 at 14:24 into the third period.

“Our defensemen have been doing a great job of getting the puck up to our forwards,” Thomas said. “I’ve been pretty hard on them over the last few games. They were really effective tonight, and that allowed our forwards to get into their rhythm. It was a good effort by all of us tonight all throughout the lineup.”

NOTES: Before the game, the Thunder released forward Evan Vossen … scratched for the game were Yannick Riendeau, Gabriel Levesque, Tony DeHart, Matt Bergland, Jesse Fratkin and Cameron Brodie … the Thunder have scored five goals or more in four consecutive home games…Nathan Deck has scored points in eight of the last ten games … ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna was in attendance tonight.

The Thunder returns to play at Stockton Arena on Sunday, hosting the Idaho Steelheads at 4:00 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.

THREE STARS:
1. STK – P. Cornet
2. STK – T. Rajala
3. STK – T. Bunz