Thunder Look to Stay Perfect vs. Utah
The Thunder’s current five-game road trip rolls on tonight when the Thunder take on the Utah Grizzlies at the Maverik Center for a 6:05 PST showdown.
Fans can head to the Thunder’s official “home away from home” at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel to watch live coverage of the game on AmericaONE while enjoying special Thunder food and drink specials. Free live audio of the broadcast is available to listen to on Spreaker.com and StocktonThunder.com. Free audio is now also available from AmericaOne on your computer, on iOS devices, and android devices.
The Thunder moved to 4-0-0-0 against the Grizzlies last night, as they were able to finally win their first game in a shootout this season. Brian Foster stopped all four shots he faced in the shootout while Joey Martin and Mitch Bruijsten would score on new Utah goaltender Cody Reichard to give the Thunder the 3-2 win.
In addition to the four shots Foster stopped in the shootout, he also was a thorn in the side of Utah shooters as the Pembroke, New Hampshire native stopped 30 of 32 shots in his 14th win of the year.
With no Parker Milner, and just an emergency backup goalie on the roster, Foster will be getting the start in back-to-back contests. Of the four wins the Thunder have against Utah this season, Foster has won three of them.
Of course Foster needs offensive support, and he has been getting that from up and down the lineup. With his goal in last nights tilt, Matt Bergland now has points in his last four games (3-1-4) while his linemate, Captain Garet Hunt, is on a three game assist streak (0-3-3).
The two got the scoring started last night as Hunt would put a shot on Reichard that the goaltender stopped, but quickly lost the puck on the rebound. Fortunately for the Thunder, Bergland came seemingly out of nowhere to backhand the puck for the quick lead just over a minute into the game.
Eight minutes later the Grizzlies would tie the game back up as Vinny Scarsella tipped a shot past Foster to knot the game at one. On the play, new Utah defenseman Gentry Zollars would pick up an assist in his first game with the team.
The score would stay tied until the 18:36 mark in the second period when Greg Miller tapped a rebound past the Utah netminder to give the Thunder the lead. Miller was following up on a great individual effort by Joey Martin, who received a breakout pass from Ryan Constant, preceded to bank a pass to himself to get around a defenseman, and then fire a wrister looking for the top corner, but he was stopped by Reichard. The goaltender lost sight of the puck until it was already behind him courtesy of the former Cornell University star Miller. With the assist, Martin also picked up his fifth assist in three straight games.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, that lead would be short-lived as the Grizzlies made the Thunder pay courtesy of a quick counter attack lead by D.J. Jelitto. Jelitto found Scarsella on the far side of the ice, and the first Utah goalscorer would saucer pass over a stick to the streaking Mike Folkes who tapped one past Foster to tie the game at two apiece.
After Foster and Reichard kept the offense at bay in the third, the Thunder would get one last scare as Bergland was forced to take a penalty in overtime. After a Thunder player fell in the offensive zone, the Grizzlies turned another quick counter attack. The speedy Bergland was unable to keep up with the Utah player and had to throw the hook.
The Thunder penalty kill unit did their job well though as they’d kill off the fourth and final Utah powerplay. The game would go to the skills competition and unlike the previous four shootouts, the Thunder would get goals from Martin in the first round and Bruijsten in the second round. Foster would keep David Vallorani, Jelitto, Jamie MacQueen and Michael Pelech off the board for the Thunder victory.
After tonight’s game in Utah, the team will fly back to Stockton and wait for Tuesday when their five-game road trip continues against the Bakersfield Condors. The team then travels south to Ontario to finish the roadtrip and then come home to take on the Condors at Stockton Arena for Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears with them to the game, and chuck them onto the ice after the Thunder scores their first goal. All stuffed animals collected will be donated to The United Way.