RECAP: Risk Nets Slight Reward

Sunday, 12.30.12 / 12:15 AM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Hughesman nets overtime winner as Thunder fall in Cornet’s return before 6,431 fans

FINAL STATS: Box score
VIDEO: Postgame comments – Thomas, Hunter, Cornet
VIDEO: Game highlights – Reichard, Cornet and Riendeau chip in
AUDIO: Game Highlights – Thunder Replay

STOCKTON, Calif. – A total of 6,431 fans saw the final Thunder home game of the year at Stockton Arena on Saturday. The 2012 finale saw a back-and-forth battle decided by Adam Hughesman’s rebound goal in overtime, as the Stockton Thunder (17-9-4-3, 41 points) fell to the Las Vegas Wranglers (13-12-1-3, 30 points) 3-2.

Yannick Riendeau gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead with his second period goal. (photo by Asvitt Photography)

Forwards Yannick Riendeau and Philippe Cornet, who was making his Thunder return after an eight-game stint with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, each found the back of the net. Goaltender Cody Reichard (7-2-2-2) recorded 42 saves for the Thunder, while Las Vegas’ Joe Fallon stopped 28 in net. The Thunder only had four defenseman activated for tonight’s game.

“We played four forwards on every line, so you have to be more responsible defensively,” Cornet said afterwards, “I think we did a good job tonight. It’s not easy. We didn’t practice it. We just came to the rink and that was the game plan.”

“I think our defensemen played really well,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas, “we played a little bit of a different system based on it. We used a lot of forwards and different rotations. It was something that we just went over right before the game, so it wasn’t like we had any time to practice. So, considering that, to get a point was really important.”

Cornet’s impact was evident from his first shift onward. Riendeau found Cornet at center ice, where Cornet took the puck, skating between the circles and around a defender. Cornet’s first shot of the game went right between Fallon’s pads, putting the Thunder up 1-0 just 3:14 into the first period.

It appeared that the Wranglers had tied the game 11:05 into the period, but the goal was overturned after the officials deemed that the puck went in off a Las Vegas high stick.

Las Vegas did tie the game just four minutes later. Mike Madill took the puck around behind the Thunder goal, wrapping a shot around the right post that beat Reichard, evening the count at 1-1 15:12 into the opening frame.

Late in the second period, the end of four-on-four play turned into a Thunder power play, the team’s first of the evening. Seconds into the power play, a pass from center Eric Hunter bounced off the boards to Riendeau, who collected it at the right circle. Riendeau fired a shot that bounced off Nolan Julseth-White’s shin pad and into the goal, giving the Thunder a 2-1 lead. Riendeau was officially credited with the goal at 17:23 into the second period.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Hunter said, “We made some mental errors. For the most part, the shots were misleading. I think we kept them on the outside quite a bit. Early on they had some better chances, but after that, I thought we did a heck of a job with being understaffed. There was a mental breakdown or two—leaving guys open in front of the net—that cost us the game.”

The Wranglers pulled even again in the third period. From the left circle, Josh Lunden swung the puck in front of goal, where Sean Wiles one-timed the pass into the net, tying the contest at 2-2 12:15 into the third period.

In overtime, Judd Blackwater found Adam Hughesman in front of net. Hughesman slid the puck by Reichard to give Las Vegas the 3-2 overtime win.

“It was a pretty good hockey game,” Thomas said, “I think the fact that we were in the situation we were in and that we got a point and played well enough to win, I’m happy.”

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Teigan Zahn, Matt Reber, Jesse Fratkin, Kevin Noble, Harrison Reed, and Ryan Constant…there were no penalties in the first period…this was Yannick Riendeau’s tenth multi-goal game this season…the Thunder are now 3-0-3 against the Wranglers this season…the Thunder drop to 1-7 (1-4 in games decided in overtime) in extra-time games on the season, with the lone win coming Oct. 28 against Bakersfield…

The Thunder will end the year and begin the new year in West Valley City, as they take part in a two-game series against the Utah Grizzlies. The game will begin at 5:05 p.m. (1280 AM KWSX/StocktonThunder.com), Dec. 31 at Maverik Center.

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. LV – A. Hughesman
2. STK – P. Cornet
3. STK – Y. Riendeau

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