RECAP: Back on Track

Tuesday, 12.04.12 / 11:02 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Thunder stops winless skid, powers past Wranglers in Rajala’s return

FINAL STATS: Box score
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame comments – Reichard, Thomas
MORE: Matt Thomas postgame comments – transcript

By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer

STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder (12-5-3, 27 points) snapped a four-game winless skid, using a three-goal second period to defeat the Las Vegas Wranglers 3-1 at Stockton Arena on Tuesday.

Goaltender Cody Reichard (4-1-1) had his best start of the season, stopping 38 shots. In his return to the Thunder, forward Toni Rajala scored to continue his ECHL-leading scoring streak at 12 games. Centers Phil Mangan and Harrison Reed each found the net. Las Vegas’ Joe Fallon made 22 saves. <p. “I liked our goals,” Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said. “I thought all three were pretty. Reichard played incredibly. He was good all night. Obviously, he was good in the third period, and we needed him to be.”

“The guys did a great job in front of me,” Reichard said. “A lot of those 39 shots were from the outside, right in tight, or just right in my path. All the credit to the guys in front of me.”

Harrison Reed doubled the Thunder lead with a goal in the second period. (photo by Asvitt Photogrpahy)

After a scoreless first period, the Thunder got on the board when defenseman Mike Little’s backdoor feed from the right circle found Mangan, who ricocheted the puck past Fallon’s blocker and put the Thunder on top 1-0 at 9:46 into the second period.

The Thunder doubled their lead 17:17 into the second frame. From the left circle, center Justin Maylan found Reed, who streaked in between the circles. Reed took the puck and blasted a snap shot by Fallon into goal, putting the Thunder up 2-0.

Just 1:16 later, the Thunder struck again. Center Eric Hunter weaved the puck between defenders to forward Yannick Riendeau at the right circle. Riendeau found a wide open Rajala in front of goal, who tucked the puck past Fallon’s blocker side to give the Thunder a 3-0 lead.

Reichard’s shutout lasted until 12:19 into the third period. Chris Francis sent a backhanded shot at goal, squeezing the puck into the net to cut the Thunder lead to 3-1.

“We hadn’t worked hard enough in the two games beforehand to get wins,” Reed said. “There were some breakdowns that cost us. It definitely feels good to get a win here at home.”

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Matt Reber, Kevin Noble, Matt Bergland, and Kristians Pelss…Ryan Constant played in the 300th game of his ECHL career (181 with the Thuner)…Toni Rajala picked up where he left off, scoring to increase his consecutive scoring streak to 12 games, an ECHL best this season…nine different Thunder players scored points on the team’s three goals…Reichard’s win was his first since Nov. 23.

These two teams will be back tomorrow night, as the Thunder and the Wranglers battle Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. (1280 KWSX/StocktonThunder.com) 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 – C. Reichard
2. STK – T. Rajala
3. STK – H. Reed