The pace of the game was not up to their normal standards. The Thunder seemed to have some difficulty getting sticks on the puck, compared to their normal fast-paced aggressive games.
“The game was unfocused. Both teams played a slow moving game and it was really who ever scored that second goal would gain momentum; and they did. We didn’t have our jump that we’ve had in the past,” said Thunder coach Matt Thomas following the game.
Stockton opened the scoring in the first period, when they capitalized on a power play on a pass from Toni Rajala to Harrison Reed who sent it past Thomas Heemskerk in the net at 8:58.
The tables turned only a few minutes later, when the Bulls were given a two-man advantage, and Sacha Guimond fired a one-timer past Cody Reichard to even the score at 11:22.
Early in the second period, the Bulls fans reacted to what they believed was the go ahead goal, but was immediately called off by referee Mike McBain. The net had been pushed off the goal pegs and the whistle had stopped play before the puck crossed the threshold. The Bulls had a second golden opportunity with a 5–on-3 power play that they failed to convert. Reichard made a few great saves for the effort.
Late in the third, Stockton had a couple of chances to take back the lead, with two separate power plays, but they were not able to solve Heemskerk. The teams sailed off the ice with the score still stuck at 1-1.
In the third period, the Bulls scored at 2:24, marking the first time the Thunder have trailed in a game for the last couple of weeks. Dean Ouellet scored on a wrist shot with an assist to Kelsey Wilson. San Francisco would increase their lead by two, when at 5:07, a Peter Sivak shot was blocked, but Reichard couldn’t cover it, and Kevin Baker tapped it in from inside the crease.
Things became chippy when Garet Hunt and Scott Langdon dropped gloves and gave the fans something to cheer about.
Jordan Morrison gave the Bulls their final goal of the night, to bring the score to 4-1. A shot from Chris Lawrence was blocked, pulling Reichard out of position, leaving a loose puck and when Morrison slipped it by Reichard.
Thomas is quite familiar with Heemskerk, since he played with the Thunder last season.
“Heemskerk was good. He was square. We didn’t make him work. He may have been the difference.” Said Thomas, “We had a couple of chances in the second, but he came up big with some good saves.”
Stockton will face the Bulls in 12 more games this season. The proximity could lead to a great rivalry. But for this match, coach was not really clear where things went wrong, other than the guys just did not follow the plan.
“We had a solid game plan coming into [tonight’s game]. But we didn’t execute it. It should be good motivation [for future games]. We let them get a win on us.” Thomas said, adding, “They deserved the win.”
Contact the writer at Shellie.Lima@prohockeynews.com
Contact the photographer at Jack.Lima@prohockeynews.com