STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder are traveling home following an overtime 4-3 win in game two of the Western Conference Finals, with a chance to clinch their first ever chance at the Kelly Cup Finals on home ice.
Stockton was not able to hold onto a 3-1 lead in the third period, but an overtime goal from Andrew Clark gave them the win at Century Link Arena, before 2,769 fans.
The first period was typical for these two teams as the netminder dual between Olivier Roy and Josh Robinson kept pucks out of the net. Each team had early power play opportunities that they were not able to cash in on. A quick wrist shot from Maxime Boisclair as he drove to the net, with assists from Matt Reber and Daniel Gibb at the 14:24 mark gave the Thunder their first goal of the period. Austin Smith scored the tying goal at 19:18, his seventh goal of the post season.
In the second period, Matt Bergland scored his sixth goal of the post season. At 12:52, Harrison Reed made a centering pass to the front of the net and Bergland buried the puck past Robinson, who had been drawn to the side of the net. The teams remained at 2-1 as the bell sounded.
The Thunder scored a power play goal 51 seconds into the third period. Ryan Hayes (his seventh goal of the post season) slipped the puck in the five hole, with assists to Reed and Mike Little. At 5:13, Tony DeHart was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for a snow shower to Robinson in front of the net, allowing an Idaho power play opportunity. The Steelheads accepted, and at 6:48 Adrian Foster found a way to get the puck past Roy, to close the gap 3-2. Foster scored again at 14:17, for his fifth goal of the post season, with assists to Andrew Carroll and Matt Case. Stockton’s Nik Pokulok served a slashing minor for just shy of the final two minutes of regulation, and their defense held fast, ultimately forcing overtime.
As the sudden death overtime period began, the two teams continued their physical back and forth play. There were several great saves on both ends, but it would be Clark’s goal at 11:39, on a pass from Landon Oslanski to beat Robinson for the 4-3 win.
Idaho leads in shots on goal 39-28. Roy took the win, improving to 10-5 in the post season, with 36 saves. Robinson took the loss with 24 saves, and moves to 4-4-1.
This was Stockton’s eleventh straight playoff overtime win, going back to 2009. Hayes leads the postseason in points, with 20 (7 goals and 13 assists).
The series takes the teams to Stockton for three (if needed) home games, with a commanding 2-0 game lead beginning on Wednesday, May 8.