Thunder Finish Road Trip Against Ontario
The Stockton Thunder (18-13-0-4) finish off their current five-game road trip with a contest against the Ontario Reign (25-5-1-3) tonight. The teams square off at Citizens Business Bank Arena with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. PST.
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.
Tonight is the first meeting between the Thunder and Reign since the Pacific Division rivals met for three straight meetings from December 20-22. The Thunder defeated Ontario in the final game of the weekend set, 5-1 on the road, picking up their first win over the Reign this season. Tonight’s match-up is the eighth of fourteen contests between the Thunder and Reign on the schedule.
The Reign remain in first place in the Pacific Division, Western Conference and ECHL with 54 points on the season, while the Thunder are second in the division and fifth in the conference with 40 points.
The Thunder come into this game having split the first four contests on their road trip. A 5-0 win over San Francisco and a 3-2 shootout victory of Utah were followed by a 6-4 defeat to the Grizzlies and a 7-2 loss to Bakersfield last night. Tuesday night’s contest marked the most goals allowed by the Thunder in a single game this season.
The Thunder received goals from forwards Greg Miller and Joey Martin in the loss to the Condors, which featured a wild ending to the first period. There were three goals scored in a span of 52 seconds during the final two minutes of the opening frame. Ryan Watson and Joel Broda scored for Bakersfield before Miller’s tally cut the Thunder’s deficit to 4-1. Martin scored 1:36 into the third period to make it 4-2, but that’s as close as the Thunder got. Forward Alex MacLeod appeared to pull the Thunder within one goal, but his effort was waved off after a discussion by the referees.
Joey Martin finished the game with a goal and an assist bring his team-leading point total to 35 on the season. Mitch Bruijsten also had a multi-point game with two assists. The Thunder also got a boost as defenseman Ryan Constant returned to the line-up after being injured in last Saturday’s game against the Utah Grizzlies.
Goaltender Brian Foster is set to make his fourth straight start in net tonight. The 26-year-old Pembroke, NH native has been the only goalie under contract on the roster since Parker Milner was recalled by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on January 8. Foster has a 14-6-3 record with a .905 save percentage on the season. Dave Guy will be on the bench for the second straight game as the emergency back-up goalie.
Thunder captain Garet Hunt will be looking for a return to form against the Reign tonight. Hunt leads the team with 12 goals this season and has four tallies against Ontario, the most by any Thunder player. Hunt is also just one goal away tying his career high for most goals in a season, when he tallied 13 in 2010-11.
Ontario is led by forwards Mario Lamoureux and Kyle Kraemer. Lamoureux leads the team in points with 27 and is second on the team in points against the Thunder with six. Kraemer is second on the Reign in goals with 12, one behind Lamoureux’s 13, despite playing in just 20 games this year after starting the season with the CHL’s St. Charles Chill. Kraemer also has the most goals in a single game this season after a five-goal outburst against Las Vegas earlier this month.
The Reign will be without goaltender Michael Hutchinson who was recalled to the AHL by the St. John’s IceCaps earlier this week. Hutchinson leads the ECHL in wins with 22, five of which have come against the Thunder. In his place the Reign have been assigned netminder Jussi Olkinuora from the AHL.
Following tonight’s game the Thunder return home and will host the Bakersfield Condors on “Teddy Bear Toss” night on January 18, at 7:30 p.m. PT. Fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to the game against the Condors and when the Thunder score their first goal of the game, you chuck them onto the ice. All of the collected bears and stuff animals will go to the United Way, who will distribute them to various local charities.