Thunder Fall in a Close Shootout Contest
In a hard fought shootout battle, the Stockton Thunder fell to the Ontario Reign by the final score of 3-2 Friday night in Ontario.
Reign center Jake Hauswirth, who got the scoring started in the first period, ending the scoring when he tallied the only shootout goal in the ninth round against Thunder goaltender Brian Foster.
“It’s frustrating as our goaltenders have played really well in the shootout,” said Head Coach Rich Kromm. “We just need to find ways to score goals. Shootouts are a part of the game now and we have to understand that there are extra points up for grabs.”
Brian Foster made key saves to keep Stockton in the game all night. The Stockton netminder ended the night with 28 saves on 30 shots faced, including 14 saves combined in the third period and extra frame.
Thunder forward Ben Rosen, who played the last 13 games as a defenseman, forced overtime late in the third period when he tied the game at two after he laced a slapshot past Reign goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Forward Alex MacLeod found Rosen who knotted the game in the dying minutes. New Thunder defenseman Lee Baldwin pinched low in the corner and won two battles on the boards as he also collected an assist on the play, his first point with Stockton.
“I was particularily happy with how we began to play at the end of the first period and through the second period,” said Kromm. “We played pretty consistent all the way through. Both teams played hard and it came down to a shootout to get it done.”
Rosen’s tally came in response to the Reign taking the lead half-way through the third period after being shut down through the second period. On a delayed penalty, a scramble in front of the Thunder netminder ensued, ending with the puck eventually trickling out to defenseman Jake Newton. Newton was able to put a one timer past Foster to give the Reign the temporary lead.
Ontario got in the board in the first when center Jake Hauswirth got the puck past the stick side of Foster late in the first period. After Thunder defenseman Mike Dalhuisen lost his stick, Ontario forward Kyle Kraemer found Hauswirth in front of the net, allowing the Reign forward to capitalize on the open net.
Stockton then answered early into the second period on the power play, thanks to a roughing penalty from Reign Captain Derek Couture. Stockton only needed 23 seconds of the man advantage to capitalize and tie the game early into the second period. Center Corey Trivino found defenseman Landon Oslanski with a pass from behind the net, allowing the Thunder defenseman to wind-up and tie the game at one.
After being held to six shots in the first period, Stockton controlled the play in the second period as the team tallied 14 shots in the second period while limiting Ontario to only five. Eventually Stockton outshot the Reign 31-30 which is a good sign for the Thunder offense.
The Thunder came into the game shorthanded as forwards Jason Clark, Nick Larson, and Mathieu Gagnon were scratched due to minor injuries. Coach Kromm would turn to a late signing of Mitch Bruijsten, who began the year with the Thunder in the preseason. Bruijsten played on the second unit with Miller and Martin and despite a long travel day, had two shots, finished his checks, and provided some energy for the team.
With the shootout loss, the Thunder fell to 13-8-0-4 on the season and 10 points behind the Pacific division leading Ontario Reign. Both teams travel up to Stockton for a showdown tomorrow night starting at 7:30 p.m.. It is the second game of the three-in-three for the Pacific division rivals with the third and final game scheduled for Sunday 3:00 p.m. in Ontario.
Stockton Arena doors will open at 6:30 with the Silver Bullet Bar opening at 5:30. Fans are encouraged to get to the arena early as it’s Garet Hunt Holiday Poster night at the arena.