POSTGAME: Matt Thomas (1/27)
Stockton Thunder head coach Matt Thomas spoke to the media about Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies.
THOMAS: “I was actually thinking about putting Jody O’Neill in net today, just to give a little bit of a different perspective for our team. Then Cody Reichard texted me and said, ‘I want the net’ and when a goalie does that type of stuff you listen. It means they’re a little bit possessed and a little bit in the zone and playing a little bit angry. I was coaching angry today and I think we needed to play angry and we did, we played with a chip on our shoulder like we didn’t receive what we probably earned over the last two nights in terms of points and results.
They came out and battled hard and was led by [Reichard]—the guys voted him player of the game, he was the first star and he made a huge stop at the end, but he made huge stops all the way through the game.
He basically told me he was playing. I like when guys do that. It’s like Garet Hunt: he takes a puck in the head and he’s out for the biggest portion of the game—I would have liked to have him for that 5 minute major—but he said he’s playing. When those guys get in the zone and are so driven, you’ve got to lean on them. I like that [Reichard] did that, it shows me a lot.”
RE: Friday night you talked about the guys needing to get some “swagger” back, did they do that today?
THOMAS: “I don’t think we were as good as we could have been. I think we did enough to win a hockey game. The 5-on-3 was our Achilles’ heel back to back nights, Friday and Saturday, in terms of putting ourselves in a better position…it ended up winning us the game. Tonight we got a second chance at it on a mistake they made. It was the right type of shot, it was a great shot by Reed. They’re all confidence builders.
I think over the weekend we got better and better and that’s really what I was looking for. I said at the beginning of the weekend I don’t really care about the results, I care about us getting better and improving as a team because we need to right now. We haven’t been playing great and there was a lot of positives out of this game. It certainly would be a confidence builder for us. When they got that 5 minute major and they scored on it, it looked like it could maybe go the other way.
I don’t know what’s a hit in our league anymore. The 5 minute major for that hit—I don’t even know if that’s a 2 minute penalty. The guys did a great job stepping up and killing it after that mistake.”
RE: Harrison Reed’s hot streak
THOMAS: “He was pretty hot through the weekend. We needed him to be. I thought Justin Maylan did a real good job the last two nights to get his offense going tonight. He had a couple good looks and they just didn’t go in for him. The guy that was even more key in that was Yannick Riendeau. He had been so hot for us and he cooled real quickly, was playing frustrated, so it was real nice for him to get the first goal of the game to tie the game in the second period. You need big performances.
I’ve got to tip my hat to our D-core; those guys battled, especially when it went down to 5. They played real hard. They really competed and got the job done. You look at a guy like Matt Bergland, a rookie, and Max Boisclair, who’s known as an offensive guy, getting caught out at two icings at the end of the game and those guys battling; they get the job done with the extra attacker. It was just good, guys stepping up and getting the job done and that’s what we needed to do. We knew it was going to be a war. We needed to make it a war and the guys stepped up to the challenge.
RE: Considering you were thinking about giving O’Neill the start tonight, will he be starting on Wednesday?
THOMAS: “I don’t know. I would like to get him in the game, but when a guy like Reichard plays that well and has two days rest he’ll be chomping at the bit. We owe San Francisco a little bit there—we dropped a couple games to them that we feel weren’t our best. We’ll see though. I’m going to enjoy this victory for about an hour.”
RE: Ryan Constant hitting 100 assists in his professional career
THOMAS: It’s a nice milestone for [Constant]. He’s had a bit of an up and down year for us. He hadn’t found his rhythm consistently, he kind of started cold for us then got hot there, then kind of got in a funk with the injury. We need a guy like him to step up. I think this weekend was his best weekend of hockey on both sides of the puck. He was competing hard, he was making plays and I really liked him defensively. I liked the simplicity in his game and I think it really allows a player that’s as potentially gifted offensively as he is to do some stuff for us. It was nice for him to reach that milestone, but more importantly for him to be a factor in our offense tonight.”