Thunder Can’t Hold on, Fall in Shootout
In a game that featured pucks and fists flying, the Thunder fell in a shootout Saturday night at Stockton Arena to the Utah Grizzlies by the final score of 3-2.
The Thunder bounced back from their first shutout loss of the season this past Tuesday by scoring on their first shot of the game off the stick of Ryan Hayes. After Hayes received the puck from defenseman Mike Keenan, he toe-dragged around a defender and then fired a wrister scoring high stick side on the ECHL Goaltender of the month of February, Utah’s Igor Bobkov. The tally was Hayes’ first goal since coming off the IR with an upper body injury.
“It definitely feels good out there,” said Hayes. “I feel more secure out there when I am getting hit a lot. It feels good but it would have felt better with a win.”
Later in the first, Thunder center Riley Wetmore and Utah forward Vinny Scarsella were given matching roughing penalties, causing a four on four. On the ensuing play with four aside, Thunder defenseman Landon Oslanski picked up a slashing penalty, giving Utah the four on three advantage. Utah capitalized only nine seconds into the power play courtesy of a slap-shot from forward David Vallorani, beating Thunder goaltender Parker Milner.
Apart from the scoring in the first, 40 of the games 54 penalty minutes were dished out to both teams. Players were throwing big hits throughout the first, with the intensity finally boiling over when Alex MacLeod and Danick Paquette fought, as well as a bout between Ben Rosen and Joseph Cramarossa.
The play in the second continued the animosity when both teams flip flopped penalties in a 57 second stretch, ending with the Thunder on a momentary four-on-three power play before it would turn into a five on four power play. After failing to capitalize on the initial man advantage, the Thunder then connected with a powerplay goal courtesy of Corey Trivino.
The play developed after Keenan found Hayes off the boards who then connected with Trivino across the ice. Off the feed, Trivino drilled the one-timer past Bobkov for the 2-1 lead.
“Personally I think our line played pretty well tonight,” said Trivino. “On the goal, Hayes was able to find me in the slot with a really nice pass. Off the nice feed, I was able to put it in.”
Utah would again tie the game at two in the third period after they finished a three-on-two break. Defenseman Brandon Jamison led the breakout, sliding the puck to forward Cramarossa, who then found the third member of the break, Paquette, who tied the game at two, forcing overtime.
After the overtime passed with chances for either side, the shootout ensued with Utah connecting on three of five against Milner. Bobkov stopped the first three shots he faced but did allow a goal from James Henry. Unfortunately for the Thunder that wouldn’t be enough and Phil Mangan’s goal sealed the Utah comeback shootout win.
Despite allowing three goals on five shots in the shootout, Milner had another impressive game, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced through regulation and overtime, including a dandy of a save on the overtime penalty kill.
Vallorani manned the point during the four on three power play and fired a low shot intended for big man Michael Pelech to tip on net, which he did, but Milner made the save at the last second with his right pad to keep the game going in the extra session.
Following the loss, the Thunder now focus on rest as they have they have the week off until they again face the same Utah team for two straight games, and three games total next weekend. It’s Covanta Energy Easy Being Green Weekend at Stockton Arena beginning on Friday the 14th and continuing to Saturday the 15th.
The Green Weekend event will feature a “Green Fair” at both games. Local environmentally friendly organizations will be on site to educate attendees on the importance of a wide array of environmental issues and eco-friendly products.
The event will be held in conjunction with the Stockton Chamber of Commerce’s “Green Team San Joaquin.” Funds raised will be awarded to an eco-friendly local organization in the way of a donation made to the charity of their choice. The first 1,000 adults 18 years or older in the building will get Thunder eco-friendly tote bags!