STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder seized game three in an exciting 5-3 win over the Aces in game three of the Conference Semifinals, before 3,297 fans at the Stockton Arena.
Alaska led the scoring in the first period at the 2:28 mark on a goal from Zach Harrison that went past Olivier Roy in the net. Stockton tied the game at the 5:09 mark, when Matt Bergland shot the puck past Mark Guggenberger in the net. Another Stockton goal at 5:58, by Maxime Boisclair gave the Thunder the lead, and they never looked back. The third goal also chased Guggenberger from the net, in favor of Gerald Coleman.
A second Bergland goal at 9:06, assisted by Reber gave the Thunder a 3-1 lead, until Bobby Hughes scored at 16:03 on a feed from Alexandre Imbeault that beat Roy in the net. Hughes’ goal was his ninth of the post season, giving him the lead in the ECHL.
The second period, Andrew Clark scored the only goal of the second period to put the Thunder up 4-1 entering the third.
Harrison Reed took a rebound shot off of Bergland’s stick for a goal at 7:46, that originally was called as Bergland’s goal. When play stopped, fans tossed hats to the ice, only later to learn that the goal was changed to Reed. Alaska’s Andy Taranto scored at 9:26 to bring the Aces back to within two goals, but that would be their only chance.
It appeared that Stockton may have scored on an empty net goal with only about 15 seconds remaining on the clock, but the puck bounced out of the net, and the referee missed the call, despite the goal judge sounding the horn. It didn’t matter, since Stockton had the 5-3 lead and at the final buzzer the win.
Coleman took the loss in the relief effort, saving 20 of 22 shots for the night, while Roy took the win, improving to 6-4 in the post season.
The three stars of the game went to Bergland, Boisclair and Garet Hunt.
Game four will be Friday night in Stockton, with game five scheduled for Sunday.