STOCKTON, Calif – When these two teams meet there are bound to be fireworks and there was no shortage of action during this Sunday afternoon game. It was also San Francisco Bulls Appreciation Day, so many of the former team’s fans made their way from the Bay Area to Stockton for a final salute to the team they loved. Ontario has quite a few ex-Bulls players, so Bulls fans were happy to see familiar faces once more.
Both Stockton and Ontario are getting used to playing without some key players. Stockton has recently lost Joe Martin for a professional try out with the Bridgeport sound Tigers. This is the third call up in his career. Martin leads the Thunder with 51 points (35 assists and 16 goals).
The Reign lost Mario Lamoureux (3 goals, 5 assists) who has gone to Austria to play and Jake Newton (1 goal, 6 assists) who was called up to Bridgeport.
The game started strong for the Reign. They controlled face offs and most of the action was on the Thunder’s side of the ice. There was no score in the first period when Ontario’s Adrian Van de Mosselaer fought Riley Wetmore, easily winning this one and only bought of the day.
The score remained 0-0 going into the first intermission, with Stockton showing a bit more life. Into the second period, Thunder skates moved more, faster, while Ontario garnered a couple penalties. Both Cody Sol (D) and Van de Mosselaer (D) received slashing penalties in a row, but the Reign were able to kill them. Stockton’s Sean Escobedo (D) incurred an interference call and the Thunder were on the PK.
Riley Wetmore (C) of Stockton snagged a beautiful short-handed goal off a perfect pass from Adam Brace (F) to chalk up the first goal of the game at 11:05 in the second period. The second period ended with a few more penalties for both teams, but this served to vitalize the Thunder, who were just getting started.
At the onset of the third period, it was Brace who nabbed a goal this time, with an assist given to defenseman Landon Olanski, making the score 2-0 Thunder. This was Stockton’s period. Center James Henry of the Thunder scored the third goal of the game, giving the Thunder a 3-0 lead.
Ontario outshot Stockton throughout the entire game, but couldn’t get the pucks past Thunder goaltender Parker Milner. Reign Captain Derek Couture did sneak one past the great goalie making the final of the game 3-1 Stockton.
Before the game, Stockton had prepared Bulls fans with a lovely buffet meal and the chance to meet with one another. It had been over a month since many of the fans had spoken or met as a group.
After the game there was a Meet and Greet with some of the former Bulls players which was a nice way for San Francisco fans to say hi to players they had missed seeing.
The Battle for the West is far from over as the playoffs are nearly here…..