POSTGAME: Matt Thomas (2/15)
Stockton Thunder head coach Matt Thomas spoke to the media about Friday’s 2-1 overtime win against the Ontario Reign.
RE: Who do you want to talk about first: the familiar old face, Olivier Roy, or the brand new face, Brandon Davidson?
THOMAS: “Well thank god for both of them tonight. Obviously Olivier needed to be very good from the opening shift, and he was very good. We made a mistake that we make over a hundred times off a face-off. Whenever you make a mistake off a face-off you can blame the center for losing it, but we know everything that [Ontario is] going to do pretty much. We had it completely drawn up knowing what play they would do and we made the mistake, so that hurt. Obviously Olivier couldn’t even see it, but he was good.
And then, what can you say [about Brandon Davidson]. Just proud of a guy like that, what a story—going through cancer treatment, he’s still bald, hair’s not in from the chemo treatments—to come in and do what he did. It was great. As a team, it was great to be rewarded but what an accomplishment for him. It was nice to be a part of it.
I think he had played two games [in OKC]…obviously he got a lot of ice time tonight and that’s the reason he’s down here. They want to get him going. He’s a good player; he’s got offensive instincts, he thinks the game well. I think his timing is still coming back, obviously tonight helped getting in the rhythm.
You have a guy like him, you have a guy like Weller coming back into the lineup from being off as long as those two have been off and out of game situations…it was nice to see them both contribute, obviously Davidson with the goals.”
RE: At the second intermission, you had 9 shots. What did you say at the break?
THOMAS: “From a coaching standpoint, it’s really frustrating. All week we worked on getting the puck to the net We talked about quantity versus quality—you know, quantity will lead us in quality chances. We talked about generating second, third opportunities and we just didn’t do it.
You give credit where credit’s due…Ontario, they play a strong team game and they’re well-organized, they compete real hard, and they made it tough on us. They did a lot of things to take offense out of our game, instead of doing things we talked about to create more offense. When you lose as many top scorers out of your lineup as we’ve lost in the last month, you need to manufacture offense. That’s an eclectic effort with a game plan. I talk about all the time, it’s about being predictable for each other…I just didn’t think we did enough things to generate offense towards the net.
You tip your hat to Dusty Carlson—there’s a guy that’s been trying to find his groove for two years in pro-hockey and hasn’t been able to and he gets his chance. We made it easy on him to a certain degree in the first two periods; I like that we made it a little tougher on him in the third. It was a step in the right direction but we’ve got a lot of work to do to create the offense that we’re looking for.”
RE: Walk us through the power play that won the game.
THOMAS: “It’s really nice to have two lefties and two righties in a 4-on-3 situation so you have a backdoor option. I think Max Boisclair is one of the best passers we have. He’s one of those guys who can just really find guys, so I figured if we can get him on that side of the ice with control of the puck he had three legitimate one time options. We talked about Davidson being the first one for him off that play, but if he continued he’d have Hunter coming through the gut and he would have had Weller backdoor. He obviously made a nice dish right to Davidson and Davidson was able to step into it.
It was a tough one; it was rolling a little bit because the ice was chewed up at that point…there was some pace on it, too. It was just nice to see it go in because you draw a lot of those things up and talk about that timeout when you’re pulling the goalie, how many times are you executing tic-tac-toe and backdoor tap. It’s all about getting the puck to the net and getting bodies there. It was nice with the power play opportunity that we were able to execute what we wanted to.”
RE: You’re kind of in a situation where you don’t have much of a margin for error.
THOMAS: “No, we have zero margin for error. In the game, outside of the multitude of mistakes we made early in the game especially in the first five minutes, Olivier was great. He just kept us in it and then to make a mistake on a face-off…that’s what frustrating, because it’s something you talk about and it’s a guy missing his assignment for half a second and half a second too late. To rebound and not have that be the difference-maker…we don’t like that we gave a point away, but for us right now it’s just about wins.
We’ve got to keep pace with the people that we’re trying to get ahead of and stay ahead of. It was important for us to battle the way we battled. I liked that we showed some resolve. It was ugly through the first forty minutes—like I said, I don’t think we played bad, we just didn’t generate enough and we need to generate. That’s really what makes me feel like we didn’t play well in the first forty minutes.”