Thunder Win First Game in Shootout
The Thunder collected their first shootout victory of the season as they downed the Utah Grizzlies in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, by a final score of 3-2.
The shootout out only went four rounds as the Thunder scored in the first two rounds thanks to Joey Martin and Mitch Bruijsten, while Brian Foster kept all four shooters from scoring.
“Mitch is good in those situations as he has a couple of shifty moves,” said Head Coach Rich Kromm. “Martin is another one of those skilled players that you can count on. And Foster, he was good, we really didn’t have to do too much because he was standing on his head.”
Foster ended the night stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced as well as all four opportunities in the skills competition.
“Foster is always great in the shootout and it’s good that we were able to give him some offensive support this time,” explained Martin. “He’s a great goalie and he wins us games.”
The Thunder got the scoring started in the first period when forward Matt Bergland backhanded the rebound past Utah goaltender Cody Reichard. After Captain Garet Hunt took the initial shot, his linemate Bergland tracked down the loose puck in the crease to tally the first goal of the game.
Utah returned the favor just about five minutes later when forward Vinny Scarsella got a stick on new Utah defenseman’s Gentry Zollars shot. After the Thunder netminder made the initial save going on Danick Paquette’s shot. The shot would carom around the boards to Zollars who shot one toward the net that Scarsella tipped past the Thunder keeper.
An even second period was finally broken late as Thunder forward Greg Miller collected the team’s second goal on night. After Martin collected the pass from Ryan Constant, he banked a pass to himself off the boards, got around a defenseman, drove to the net, and put a shot up high on Reichard. The netminder stopped the shot, but couldn’t hold on as the rebound came to Miller, and he backhanded it past the glove side of Reichard.
“I didn’t have to do much work on it because Martin did it all,” said Miller. “He did a great job to get around a defender, put a great shot on the goalie, and I just followed it up.”
Utah then responded only 45 seconds later as they beat Foster on a three-on-two. After Utah won the puck in the neutral zone, the break started with D.J. Jellito, who fired a cross ice pass to Scarsella, who threw a saucer pass backdoor for Mike Folkes to tap in and tie the game at two. For Folkes, it was his first professional goal.
The teams would be held off the board in the third and despite a hectic two minutes with Bergland in the box for hooking, the Thunder kept Utah off the scoresheet in the overtime session as well.
“The penalty kill was huge,” said Foster. “It obviously was a very important one to kill off and the guys did a great job of clearing guys out of the way and allowing me to see every shot from the outside. That made them easy to stop.”
It would then be Martin’s goal that would prove to be the game winner as the Thunder won their first game in a shootout this season.
“I think it’s important getting the win because at the end of the year and you look at the standings, maybe you are out of the playoffs, or miss a particular spot by a couple points,” explained Martin. “It’s good we won tonight and hopefully this gives the boys confidence.”
With the win the Thunder move to 18-11-0-4 on the season and remain in the fourth spot of the Western Conference. Both teams are back at it tomorrow in the second game of a back-to-back with puck drop at 6:05 PST. Fans can head back to the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel for the official watch party that kicks off just after 5:00 PST.