Thunder Corral Bulls, Win 5-0
San Francisco, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder (17-11-0-4) finished off their series of five straight meetings with San Francisco (12-17-3-1) by defeating the Bulls 5-0 on the road at the Cow Palace.
It was the second shut out of the year for the Thunder, and the first since a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Eagles at home on the opening night of the season. Goaltender Parker Milner stopped all 32 shots he faced to earn the first professional shutout of his career. The Thunder also got multi-point performances from five different players.
The Thunder tightened their grip on second place in the Pacific Division standings with the win, as they now have 38 points on the year, 12 points ahead of San Francisco who are third in the division. The team also won three of the five games in the set against the Bulls, something Head Coach Rich Kromm mentioned was important.
“We talked about it at the beginning of this five-game segment with this team,” Kromm said. “We looked at it as though it were a playoff series. Certainly tonight, just getting the win was important. Guys were just focused on having a good sixty-minute effort and getting it done here in San Francisco.”
The Thunder got things started in the first period as James Henry opened the scoring 7:58 into the frame. Matt Bergland had the initial shot, with Henry knocking it past Bulls’ goalie J.P. Anderson on the rebound. The score stayed 1-0 through the period as both goaltenders were in fine form, facing 15 shots apiece.
In the second, the Thunder doubled their lead 4:47 into the period. Greg Miller found a rebound off a Joey Martin shot and snapped it high past Anderson’s glove for the 2-0 advantage. The Thunder also benefitted from five power play opportunities in the period as San Francisco had a parade of players to the box.
The Thunder struggled to cash in with a spirited performance by the Bulls penalty killers. With 1:24 to go in the period, the Thunder finally found the net on their sixth power play chance. Martin fired a pass through the slot to the back post for defenseman Lee Baldwin to hammer home to make it 3-0 Thunder.
“In Greenville I was quarterbacking the power play at the top of the zone, but here I’ve been looking to get to the back post,” Baldwin said. “I like going back door, and it’s worked out for me so far. Martin made a nice pass to me and I was able to put it behind the goalie.”
The second intermission break did nothing to curtail the Thunder’s momentum, and just 0:36 into the third period, Mitch Bruijsten redirected a shot by Baldwin into the top corner. The Thunder had the game well in control at that point with a 4-0 lead, but the scoring was not done yet. Defenseman Nathan Deck added a power play goal for good measure midway through the frame. Deck took a breakout pass and skated into the offensive zone down the left wing before ripping a high shot past Anderson’s blocker that went off the post and in.
Meanwhile, Milner did his part in the Thunder goal flashing the glove on several occasions to make some key saves and keep the Bulls off the board, and pick up his third victory with the Thunder this year.
“You’re definitely ready for anything against a team like them because they’re always cheating towards the offensive zone and they love to play on the rush,” Milner said. “You just have to be sharp and the biggest thing is getting in the game early, getting your eyes adjusted and playing a good sixty minutes.”
The Thunder next continue a five-game road trip by heading to Utah for a two-game set with the Grizzlies on January 10th and 11th. The Thunder are 3-0-0-0 against the Grizzlies this season taking all three meetings at Stockton Arena this year. The Thunder do not return home until January 18th when they host the Bakersfield Condors on “Teddy Bear Toss” night at 7:30 p.m. PT. For ticket information call the Thunder front office at 209-373-1500 or visit StocktonThunder.com.