BENTON’S BLOG: Finally Home

Monday, 02.11.13 / 4:34 PM
By Mike Benton

As a tribute to Phillip Phillips, the four letter word beginning with an “H” never sounded so good.

It’s amazing to realize, even as I type this at 11:46 p.m. AT on Sunday night in the sleepy, blanket and pillow laced terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport: the Thunder are coming home. And for the most part, for good.

No more Alaska. No more Idaho. No more Utah. No more Colorado.

Every game from here on out will be played in the state of California until the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Maybe this is what the Thunder needed.

The memories are still fresh in my mind after adding the vocal soundtrack to a 3-1 Thunder loss tonight at Alaska. It contained the most bare-boned roster this season, compared to what was iced in October. And for many players who’ve been around, it’s not a judgement on their talent.

No Rajala/Cornet/Reed/Deck/Riendeau/Maylan (injury). But there’s no need to describe the leftover bunch as mere “leftovers.”

“I’ve never seen so many tape to tape passes to our wide open players in the slot and have it roll off their stick,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “The guys really couldn’t have worked harder.”

They come home with a four game winless streak and the acquisition of Shawn Weller in their back pocket. Good timing. They also need the familiar springiness to Stockton Arena’s boards, the warmth of their own beds for a pregame nap and positive, electric energy of 6,000 Thunder fans screaming behind them.

It looks to be enough for one final boost into a playoff spot.

Their magic number is already 14 to get it done. Ontario and Alaska (in stunning and mind-blowing fashion) are now in. Idaho is knocking on the door.

As of right now, the Thunder are next in line.

And with the Central Valley faithful awaiting them, where they’re 15-7-3 this season and play 11 of the last 19 games, it’s the ideal time to seal the deal.

Mike Benton has served the Thunder as television and radio play-by-play announcer since the team’s inception. Got a question or comment? Follow Mike on twitter at