Thunder Host Bulls on Painted Ice
The Stockton Thunder open up 2014 on a colorful note as the team hosts the San Francisco Bulls on “We Paint the Ice Night” presented by WE PAINT, Dr. Lester Low Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, and Naf’s Ice Paints in what has become known as the “Painted Classic” tonight at 7:30 PST. Stockton Arena doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the Silver Bullet Bar opening at 5:30 p.m.
The Thunder and Bulls will be making hockey history as they will play on the first ice surface that has been painted by fans. 845 fans helped decorate the ice after the Thunder’s 5-1 win over the Bulls in the final game of 2013, as part of “Kids Take Over Stockton Arena Night”, also presented by WE PAINT, Dr. Lester Low Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, and Naf’s Ice Paints. Now the teams will battle on that same ice surface to open the New Year.
The ice might be a big part of the story, but not all of it, as tonight’s match-up will be the fourth straight meeting between the teams with the fifth straight meeting following tomorrow in San Francisco. A total of 26 goals have been scored in the first three games and two of those have resulted in Thunder wins. The Bulls took the first match-up at the Cow Palace on December 27, with a 5-2 decision. The second meeting was a wild one at Stockton Arena as the Thunder came away with a 7-6 overtime win thanks to Greg Miller’s sixth of the season and second of the game.
The Thunder finished off the three-in-three series on Sunday prior to the painting festivities, as they dominated the first period and eventually won 5-1. Matt Bergland, James Henry, Mike Dalhuisen, and Nick Larson all scored in the first period to give the Thunder the 4-0 lead. San Francisco’s Tyler Gron would pull the Bulls to within three late in the second period, only to see Landon Oslanski restore the four-goal advantage and finish off the 5-1 score-line.
While high scoring was a big part of the three-in-three, the rivals also had some bad blood to deal with as a total of 175 minutes in penalties were given to the teams with the Thunder picking up 105 themselves. There were 17 fighting majors given out in the three game series and with two more games to go, more could be on the way.
The Thunder may be playing a familiar face on defense today as Sean Escobedo was reassigned back to the club after a short stint with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Escobedo suited up in 8 contests for the Thunder this season and has picked up 3 assists, no penalty minutes, and a +3 rating.
This season, the Thunder are 3-2-0-1 against the Bulls with the team being led by Joey Martin and Miller in points with 7 against San Francisco. In net, Parker Milner has gotten the nod three times while Brian Foster has seen the Bulls twice. Milner is 1-2-0 with a .920 save percentage while Foster is 2-0-0 with a .877 save percentage.
The Bulls have used both of their goaltenders against the Thunder as Tyler Beskorowany is 3-1-0-0 with a .885 save percentage and J.P. Anderson is 0-1-1-0 with a .875 save percentage. While Adrian Foster has picked up one more point against the Thunder, it has been Tyler Gron who has been the story for San Francisco. Gron came over in a trade from Idaho back on November 25 and since then has picked up 22 points in 15 Games Played for the Bulls. Of his 12 goals and 10 assists as a member of the Bulls, he has scored 4 goals and 2 assists against the Thunder in just 4 meetings.
Fans should be in for a unique, colorful, and heated matchup tonight as the dials all suggest that it should be a fun and exciting game between two bitter rivals on a one-of-a-kind ice surface. Tonight at 7:30, the Thunder, the Bulls, and the fans will forever be a part of a hockey first. For ticket information, call 209-373-1500 and speak to one of our ticket executives.
The Thunder will then navigate away from Stockton Arena for a five-game roadtrip starting tomorrow in San Francisco, then to Utah next weekend, and finally to Bakersfield and Ontario before coming home for their Teddy Bear Toss game on January 18th against the Bakersfield Condors. Fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to the game and when the Thunder score their first goal, fans launch their stuffed animals onto the ice. All of the toys will then be collected and given to the United Way. In addition to Teddy Bear Toss on the 18th, Garet Hunt and the Starting Goaltender will be a part of the 2013-14 MeiGray ECHL Fantasy Team. Both the team captain, and the starting goalie will sport a special Fantasy Team jersey for the game against the Condors with the jerseys being auctioned off after the game.