STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder (16-11-0-4, 36 points) fell in a 4-2 match up against the visiting San Francisco Bulls (12-16-3-1, 28 points) Friday night in a “Painted Classic” promotion. Last Sunday, 845 fans stayed after a game to paint the ice. This was the first time fans had ever been provided an opportunity to paint the ice. The surface was very colorful in red, blue, green, yellow, purple and orange. Drawings ranged from players’ names and numbers, to personal tributes.
There was some concern that players wouldn’t be able to follow the puck, especially the goal tenders.
“It didn’t seem to affect the players. Both goalies seemed to be fine and that was our biggest worry; how it would affect the goaltenders,” said thunder’s Head Coach Rich Kromm. “Overall they all seemed to handle it pretty well.”
But it would be the penalties on the Thunder that seemed to cause the biggest havoc during the game. The Bulls scored once in the first period and two more times in the third period and were three for six on the power play.
The Bulls opened the scoring late in the first on their first power play goal, when Tyler Gron (his 16th goal of the season) caught a rebound that he was able to slip past Brian Foster in the net at 15:58. Stockton’s Matt Bergland scored at 18:45 on a slap shot past Tyler Beskorowany in the net to even the score at one each as they went to break.
The third period changed the tide of the game, when early on the Thunder had too many men on the ice at 4:03, followed at 4:30 by a Garet Hunt slashing penalty, giving the Bulls the 5 on 3 advantage. A third penalty on 45 seconds later, by Nathan Deck for slashing again, extended their advantage.
Latvian native Defenseman Eriks Sevcenko, who was added to the Bulls roster the day before, scored his first goals as a member of a North American team. Sevenko scored at 5:25 and again at the 7:00 mark to give the Bulls the 3-1 lead.
Stockton’s Landon Oslanski scored at 14:04 to attempt the comeback, but the Bull’s defense was too much for them to overcome. The Bulls capped the game, when Foster was pulled for the extra skater in the last minute, and Tyler Gron scored the empty net goal for this 17th on the season at 19:07.
Stockton’s Mike Dalhuisen remarked after the game on the penalties in the third period, “We have to be a little bit smarter with penalties. We lost it on the penalty kill with some dumb penalties with the slashes. They were frustration penalties and you never like to see those.”
The Thunder was zero for two on their power play opportunities. Stockton outshot the Bulls 32-25, in the 4-2 loss.
Gron leads the Bulls with 29 points total. Acquired in a trade from the Idaho Steelheads, Gron has played in only 16 games with SF, and tallied 14 goals and 11 assists during that time.
The Thunder will hit the road for the next five games, including Saturday night at the Cow Palace against the Bulls. In the meantime, the Thunder ice will be returned to the standard white.