6,497 fans witness 4-3 Thunder comeback victory in shootout over San Francisco
By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer
STOCKTON, Calif. –
By Ruben Dominguez – Thunder staff writer
STOCKTON, Calif. –Goaltender Cody Reichard blanked all three skaters he faced in the shootout, and the Stockton Thunder (23-16-8, 54 points) came back to win a back-and-forth affair over the San Francisco Bulls 4-3 in a shootout in front of 6,497 fans on Wednesday at Stockton Arena.
“The guys played hard in front of me all night,” said Reichard afterwards, “Obviously, the second goal was one I’d like to have back. [Mike] Little made a huge play in overtime, diving back on their power play and putting a stick on that one. Otherwise, the game’s over for sure.”
“We played real well and were trailing going into the third period,” Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said, “I didn’t think we deserved to be there. We had 30 seconds of two average plays that they capitalized on. It was too bad because I thought we were playing a really solid game.”
Defenseman Ryan Constant scored in the third period to tie the game, while center Gabriel Levesque and defenseman Tony DeHart added goals as well. Forward Matt Reber contributed with a pair of assists.
“We talked in between the second and third period about making it a playoff-type game,” Thomas continued, “What a great play by [Maxime] Boisclair to find [Ryan] Constant. Constant made a really good read jumping down on that play, and we end up tying the game. It would’ve been nice to get it in regulation, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
Reichard (12-7-5) stopped 23 shots in the night, while San Francisco’s Taylor Nelson made 42 saves. The Thunder outshot their opponents 45-26 on the night.
The Thunder struck just 30 seconds into the game. Defenseman Shawn Boutin sent in a shot from the left circle that rebounded off Nelson’s pads. Levesque pounced on the rebound, finishing in front of goal to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead.
Just before the end of the first period, San Francisco evened the game on a five-on-three power play. Cody Carlson swung the puck at the goal, where former Thunder defenseman Rob Kwiet poked it by Reichard, sending both teams into the intermission tied at 1-1.
The Thunder capitalized in a power play of their own when center Harrison Reed dished the puck to Reber in front of the left side of goal. Reber used a backhanded pass to get the puck to DeHart on the opposite side. DeHart blasted the puck into the wide open net, putting the Thunder up 2-1 4:06 into the second period.
Again, the Bulls responded. Dean Ouellet skated behind the Thunder net and snuck a wrap-around shot by Reichard to even the score at 2-2 8:49 into the second period.
Just 17 seconds later, Carlson fed Christian Ouellet in front of goal. Ouellet got the puck by Reichard with a backhanded deke, giving San Francisco a 3-2 lead.
The Thunder fought back early in the third period. Forward Maxime Boisclair carried the puck around the San Francisco goal, sending a pass to Constant at the left circle. Constant one-timed the puck with a blast that beat Nelson and tied the score at 3-3 2:06 into the final frame.
A scoreless overtime was followed by a shootout.
Forward Yannick Riendeau set the tone with a backhanded deke to put the Thunder up 1-0. After Jonathan Lessard’s shot bounced of Riechard’s right pad, Boisclair doubled the Thunder lead with a wrist shot.
Reichard remained solid when Peter Sivak’s shot hit the post, and, after center Eric Hunter’s shot sailed wide, Dean Ouellet was denied at the left post. Reed clinched the win with a backhand shot that met the back of the net.
“The original plan was to go down and take a shot,” Reed said, “That’s kind of what my best asset is. But, I didn’t see many holes. I went to the backhand and it worked out.”
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Teigan Zahn, Jesse Fratkin, Matt Ambroz, and Cameron Abney…the Thunder have scored a power play goal in eight straight home games and ten out of the team’s last eleven at Stockton Arena…the Thunder outshot the Bulls 18-6 in the second period…Harrison Reed has registered a point in three straight games…the Thunder broke a seven-game extra time winless streak and clinched just the second extra time win on the season (3-2 in overtime against Bakersfield on Oct. 28).
The Thunder will return two days from now for Hockey with Heart, the first of two games against the Idaho Steelheads. The puck will drop Friday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. (1280 AM 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
1. STK – Y. Riendeau
2. STK – R. Constant
3. SF – C. Carlson