RECAP: First Big Catch

Friday, 05.03.13 / 11:54 PM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Roy turns in 35 save effort to help Thunder swipe Conference Finals opener

FINAL STATS: Box score
AUDIO: Game Highlights – Thunder Replay
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame comments – Matt Thomas

BOISE, Idaho – Goaltender Olivier Roy made 35 saves and Ryan Hayes collected a goal and an assist to lift the Stockton Thunder to a 3-1 victory over the Idaho Steelheads in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final before 3,556 fans at Century Link Arena on Friday night.

Stockton never trailed in the Conference Final opener – a rematch of the 2010 series that Idaho took in six games – and broke a 1-1 tie in the third period when Hayes and Maxime Boisclair combined for two goals in the final six minutes of regulation.

“I really liked us all the way through the game,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “Our goalie was good for the full sixty minutes. As a team, we defended well and had some timely goals. It was a good first one, but it’s only one. We’re moving our focus ahead to Sunday.”

Andrew Clark scored in the second period for the Thunder.

STOCKTON VS. IDAHO – WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL (all times listed PT)

Game 1: Stockton 3 at Idaho 1
Game 2: Stockton at Idaho – Sunday, May 5 – 4:10 p.m. (Century Link Arena)
Game 3: Idaho at Stockton – Wednesday, May 8 – 7:00 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 4: Idaho at Stockton – Friday, May 10 – 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 5: Idaho at Stockton – Saturday, May 11 – 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena) *
Game 6: Stockton at Idaho – Monday, May 13 – 6:10 p.m. (Century Link Arena) *
Game 7: Stockton at Idaho – Tuesday, May 14 – 6:10 p.m. (Century Link Arena) *
(Stockton leads series, 1-0)
*If necessary

Olivier Roy won his third straight playoff road game with a 35 save effort. (photo by Asvitt Photography

Both teams battled through a tight-checking scoreless tie in the opening period and Roy stopped 13 shots. His signature save came on a chance by David deKastrozza, who was open at the front of the net. Roy slid to the left post and got the blocker on the backhanded bid in the middle of the period.

Clark buried a centering pass by Hayes from behind the net at 4:01 of the second period for a 1-0 Thunder lead. Stockton followed with several impressive shifts in the period, threatening to blow the game open. Eric Hunter misfired on a last-second breakaway and Josh Robinson got the left toe on Shawn Weller and Matt Bergland’s give-and-go, two on one break late in the period.

Roy kept Idaho off the board with 13 saves in the period.

deKastrozza leveled the score just 14 seconds into the third period when he converted on a chance, wide open at the front of the net which was set up by Brett Robinson’s centering pass from beneath the goal line.

The Thunder, unfazed, nearly took the lead again but had an apparent deflected goal by Harrison Reed waved of 46 seconds later. They continued to pressure and broke through for a 2-1 lead with 6:42 left when Boisclair scored by batting the puck into the net from mid-air. Eric Hunter set up the play with a bid from the left circle that Robinson kicked to Boisclair.

After Idaho missed on a half-open net with under two minutes left, the Thunder raced back to put the game out of reach on Hayes’ sixth goal of the postseason. He took a lob from Clark and outmuscled the Idaho defense at the left circle. When Hayes broke open, he buried a wrister over Robinson’s glove with 1:27 left for a 3-1 lead.

Robinson took the loss with 19 saves.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Ryan Constant and Cameron Abney… Idaho had the lead in shots at 36-22 … the game featured a two-referee system – a standard procedure beginning in the Conference Final … the win broke a Thunder five game playoff losing skid at Idaho, dating back to 2007 … Stockton improved to 7-6 in Game 1 scenarios.

Game 2 is Sunday at Century Link Arena, beginning at 4:10 p.m. PT (1360 AM KFIV/StocktonThunder.com).

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

THREE STARS:
1. STK – O. Roy
2. STK – M. Boisclair
3. IDH – D. de Kastrozza

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