STOCKTON, Calif. – In a match that started in Stockton’s favor, the Eagles managed to come out the victors in the 7-5 Colorado win at Stockton Arena before 5,939 fans Saturday night.
Only 40 seconds into the first period, Thunder captain Garet Hunt scored to put the Thunder on the board first. The goal by Hunt was his fourteenth goal of the season, a new personal season high.
“It’s a good personal milestone to achieve and I’m happy to surpass my old season high,” said Hunt. “It would have been that much sweeter if we could have gotten the win tonight. I always say that you can’t always focus on points, it’s a team game.”
It would not be long when James Henry caught a rebound and scored at 1:46. Stockton’s third consecutive goal came at 13:49 off the stick of Sean Escobedo. Escobedo’s goal was his first professional goal. Stockton would sail off the ice into the first intermission leading 3–0.
“It was a great feeling to score and help the team out in the first period,” said Escobedo. “We had a really good first period and my goal just started with Miller on the face-off and ended in the net.”
But the second period turned out to be a different story for the Thunder, as Colorado blasted back with three of their own unanswered goals.
Jesse Mychan scored at 5:12. Kyle Ostrow scored the first two goals of his hat-trick at 12:21 and again at 19:17.
Going into the third period the teams were tied at 3-3. J.P. Burkemper scored at 4:25 into the period to give Stockton the go-ahead, only to be answered by a power play goal scored by Kevin Ulanski at 9:23. Stockton took back the lead at 11:53, when Greg Miller’s shot went past Adam Brown in the net. However, the rest of the game would belong to the Eagles. Despite several strong attempts by the Thunder to score, Brown was strong in the net.
Trent Daavettila scored on another power play at 14:43 for the tying goal, and Ostrow scored his third goal off Parker Milner, with a well-placed shot that bounced in off of the goalies skate for the eventual winning goal at 17:57. With less than a minute remaining and Milner pulled for the extra skater, Stockton worked the puck in the offensive end to try for a goal, but to no avail. A Stockton pass was intercepted and Daavettila scored the empty net goal with 14 seconds remaining for the insurance goal.
With the exception of Mychan’s goal, all of Colorado’s goals came off the sticks of their best forwards. Ostrow leads the Eagles in goals and points following this five-point game, with 20 goals, 26 assists for a total of 46 points. Daavettila is second with 45 points, 17 goals, and 28 assists. Ulanski is third with 16 goals, 28 assists for 44 points total.
The Eagles finished the game scoring two of three on the man advantage, while Stockton was zero for two. The Eagles out shot Stockton 12-3 in the third period and 30-20 overall.
“We were two different teams in the first period and second period. We have to get pucks in deep all the time. We can’t have turnovers inside the blue line,” Stockton’s coach Rich Kromm said. “They are a very skilled team. They thrive on transition opportunities and we gave them to them.”
Colorado is in third place in the Western Conference with 22-12-5-2, and 51 points. Stockton is currently trailing them in forth, with 21-15-0-5, and 47 points. These teams will meet three more times this season. Stockton is 2-2 in four games to date.
Stockton will hit the road for their longest road trip of the season, with seven games. They will face Bakersfield on Tuesday, then travel to face the number one Western Conference team, Ontario Reign on Wednesday, then to Alaska, currently in second place for a five game series beginning Friday night.