POSTGAME: Matt Thomas (2/24)
Stockton Thunder head coach Matt Thomas spoke to the media about Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Ontario Reign, which clenches the Thunder’s playoff spot.
RE: What got into your power play?
THOMAS: “We’ve been moving it around pretty well all three games. The last couple games we kept missing that one extra pass where we had an opportunity on the weak side of the ice, and tonight we found it. We found it four times. We probably needed our power play to score at least two goals to win the game, in my mind. Obviously we only had seven forwards in the lineup so for them to step up and do what they did—it’s a credit to the guys. They executed and you need to execute, especially when you’re shorthanded like we were.”
RE: Have you seen anybody be quite as patient as Reber was during that first goal, and that pass he made?
THOMAS: “I thought he was so patient he was going to miss it. That was one of the slower moving plays I’ve seen in awhile; we joked about it on the bench. It’s one of those things either you hold on to the puck too long and you miss a play or you rush the play. He found the happy medium towards the a-lot-of-patience-side of that. It was great.
It’s unbelievable because what really happens in those situations is the goaltender has got to guess and guess and guess and at some point he’s got to stay set to one, he’s got to commit to one. Again, the guys made a lot of nice plays that really gave guys open nets and our guys made sure they buried them.”
RE: Could this be the game that really gets your power play going?
THOMAS: “You hope it always is. Obviously we play these guys a bunch of times—we play them our next two games again—so some things worked for us there. I think our power play’s been consistent all year; even the games we haven’t scored, we’ve gotten a lot of good looks and the puck just hasn’t gone in the net.
You’ve got to credit the team’s doing well on the penalty kill and the goaltenders doing a good job. You always hope your power play can get hot at the right times. When you’re down in numbers and total offensive-minded players that we have, sometimes your power play has got to really kick it into high gear. For them to do what they did today…hopefully it’s something that gives us confidence going into next weekend, and it should.”
RE: Thoughts on having that playoff spot locked up?
THOMAS: “You always set some goals as a group at the beginning of the year: the obvious one is to get into playoffs. It’s nice to secure it and get it behind you. We’ve got obviously loftier goals than that for ourselves. For us, we want to stay at a home ice spot. I think first, second and third is pretty distant from us. It’s going to be a pretty miraculous final 12 beams for us and a fall from grace for some of the other teams. [Fourth] would be important for us. I think we want to have home ice and so we’ve got a lot to fight for still, but it’s nice to get that out of the way early enough with 12 games remaining.
RE: Let’s talk about playing with the 7 forwards and some of the guys who pitched in to make this work.
THOMAS: “There was a lot of mixing and matching. I think the great thing about the guys is they embraced it. They had a lot of fun today. Guys were playing out of position. Every time one of those guys won a face-off the guys were hootin’ and hollering on the bench for them. I think it was important for our D to be really good today, because that’s where we were healthy and had numbers. They scored enough goals to make us look good. They really allowed our forwards to make some mistakes in terms of coverage and stuff because of the guys playing out of position. Our D did a great job, but everyone did. It was good to see the guys adapt the way they did. The guys stepped up, that’s what we asked of them before the game and the guys stayed committed to the game plan. We executed well and our power play won us a hockey game.”
RE: Is there anybody in particular on that power play that made it work or was it just everybody?
THOMAS: “I thought Tyler Bunz was awesome on it. You guys haven’t asked me about our goalie who played real well, so I figured I better talk about how well he played. Max Boisclair is a guy who’s got incredible vision and patience; he makes a lot of good plays. I thought every guy did…it was a real nice pass by Weller to Constant, it was a really nice pass by Reber to Davidson, it was a nice pass from Boisclair to Reber on the backdoor—there was a lot of good passes where we had one play to make and we saw that play and made it. It was just impressive. I thought everybody chipped in and carried their weight on it and that was important. You needed all five guys each time.”
RE: Are you satisfied with the way your goalie played?
THOMAS: “He was good. He needed to be. He was really good his last two games. The last one in Ontario was unfortunate. We blew it late that game and for him to rebound and come in here with the lack of offensive support that he potentially could have had…we talked about him being perfect and being the difference maker, and I thought he did a great job. He made all the right reads and did everything you could hope your goalie could do in that situation. To me, he was a huge reason why we won tonight.”