RECAP: Aces Wild

Friday, 01.04.13 / 11:20 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Martindale nets first of the season as Coleman, Crabb push Aces by Thunder

FINAL STATS: Box score
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame comments from the locker room
AUDIO: Game highlights – Thunder Replay
MORE: Matt Thomas full postgame quotes

By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer

STOCKTON, Calif. – Returning to Stockton Arena for the first time in 2013, the Stockton Thunder (18-11-7, 43 points) had a late rally stopped by the Alaska Aces (27-8-0, 54 points), who grabbed a 3-1 win in front of 4,207 fans on Friday.

Center Ryan Martindale collected his first goal of the season for the Thunder after being reassigned from the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons last month. Goaltender Cody Reichard made 19 saves for the Thunder, while Alaska’s Gerald Coleman stopped 37 shots.

“I think our team was just trying to give them everything we had,” Martindale said afterwards. “They’re a tough opponent. I think we really started bringing it to them in the last couple periods. In the last period, we created a lot of opportunities and we almost mounted a comeback. We had a couple prime scoring chances. It was just unfortunate that they didn’t go in.”

Center Ryan Martindale followed his shot in the third period to notch his first goal of the season with the Thunder.

Alaska got on the board late in the first period when Reichard’s clearance was intercepted by Joey Crabb. Crabb’s slap shot from the left circle deflected off Reichard’s stick and into the goal, putting the Aces up 1-0 17:44 into the first period.

After a scoreless second period, the Aces lead was doubled just 4:37 into the third period. Stealing the puck in the Thunder defensive zone, Brandon Dubinsky sent a pass across goal to Scott Gomez, who tucked it by Reichard’s glove and into the net, putting the Thunder in a 2-0 hole.

The Thunder cut the lead in half on a four-on-three opportunity. Working the puck around the Alaska defense, forward Toni Rajala found Martindale as he cut towards goal near the right post. Martindale’s shot bounced off Coleman’s glove, but he pounced on the rebound, stashing the puck by Coleman to make the count 2-1 11:57 into the final frame.

With Reichard pulled for an extra attacker late in the game, Crabb collected an empty-net goal, providing the dagger to clinch the game with 9.2 seconds to go.

“Two mistakes ended up costing us the game,” Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said. “I thought we played well. Obviously, their goaltender played real well. It’s disheartening that we don’t get two points, but we’ve got to find a way to score.”

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Phil Mangan, Jesse Fratkin, Kevin Noble, Harrison Reed, and Ryan Constant…Matt Reber returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 30 at Ontario …Garet Hunt participated in two separate fights during the first period… after taking the first two matchups of the season, the Thunder have now dropped five consecutive games to the Aces.

The Thunder will return tomorrow, Jan. 5, as they take on the Colorado Eagles. The final regular-season matchup between these two at Stockton Arena will begin at 7:30 p.m. (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. AK – G. Coleman
2. STK – R. Martindale
3. AK – S. Gomez

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