RECAP: Goal Difference
Early third period rally denied, Alaska takes second game of series
FINAL STATS: Box score
ANCHORAGE, Alaska –
ANCHORAGE, Alaska –The Alaska Aces used multi point games from Scott Gomez, Kane Lafranchise and Alexandre Imbeault to send the Stockton Thunder (15-8-6, 36 points) to a 5-1 defeat before 4,889 fans at Sullivan Arena on Saturday.
The Thunder, who nearly rallied out of a 3-0 deficit in the third period, collected a power play goal by Eric Hunter and had a second tally by Mike Little wiped away by the officials just over a minute after Hunter’s goal.
Alaska followed up with consecutive goals by Gomez and Imbeault to put the game away. Gerald Coleman made 26 saves in net to earn the win.
“We made some mistakes to give them a 3-0 lead but we didn’t quit,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “We kept battling. We came out and did what we needed to do early. [A comeback] was taken away from us – an opportunity to make it a closer game. It’s unfortunate.”
Despite a 7-5 shots edge held by the Thunder after 20 minutes, they fell behind 2-0 after one period on goals by Chris Haltigin and Alain Goulet. Haltigin scored the game’s first goal from the left point after a Thunder turnover in the defensive zone at 2:07.
Gomez then set up Goulet on a one timer in the slot, who netted his first goal of the season at 14:17 to put the Aces up by a pair of goals.
Alaska bumped their lead to 3-0 with 13:30 left in the second period when Nick Mazzolini cashed in on a two on one goal. After the Aces broke up a play in the defensive zone, Lafranchise chipped the puck to center ice. Mazzolini caught up with it and fired a snap shot past Tyler Bunz from the right circle.
The Thunder embarked on its mission for a third period rally on Hunter’s power play goal just 59 seconds into the third period, cutting the deficit to 3-1 when he buried a snap shot from the mid slot.
Alaska’s Bobby Hughes was handed a penalty for closing his hand on the puck and an unsportsmanlike conduct at the 2:16 mark which gave the Thunder a four minute power play. They worked the puck around the perimeter and Yannick Riendeau hit Little with a tape to tape pass at the right circle.
Little whistled a backhander past Coleman’s blocker, but the officials swiftly waved off the goal with Harrison Reed standing in the crease.
“I thought it was a good goal,” said Thomas. “Our player was pushed in the crease. Then he vacates the crease by the time the puck goes in the net – you could tell by [Alaska’s] reaction that they didn’t think it was interference. All of a sudden a 3-2 game turns into a 4-1 game.”
Alaska killed the penalties.
Gomez followed up with a power play goal at 6:52 on a wrist shot from the left circle for a 4-1 Aces lead and Imbeault closed the scoring at 14:05 with a rebound goal at the top of the crease.
Bunz took the loss with 20 saves.
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Matt Reber, Kevin Noble, and Ryan Constant … the Thunder converted on a power play goal for the ninth time in the last ten games and went 1-for-6 with the man advantage … Stockton outshot Alaska 27-25 … the Thunder fell to 5-5-5 on the road, suffering its first road loss in regulation since Dec. 9.
The two teams close out the three game series at Sullivan Arena tomorrow starting at 8:15 p.m. (1280 AM 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. AK – G. Coleman
2. AK – S. Gomez
3. AK – A. Goulet