Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Stockton Thunder Clinches Playoff Birth / A Game Recap

03/30/2010 11:21 PM

FIT TO BE TIED
Thunder tied for first place, clinch playoff berth for fourth consecutive season
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FINAL STATS: BOX SCORE
AUDIO: Game highlights

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Kelly Czuy scored a pair of goals while James Bates (1g-2a) and Matt Robinson (1g-2a) each had three-point efforts to help steer the Stockton Thunder (33-27-9, 75 points) to a first place tie in the Pacific Division in a 6-4 win over the host Bakersfield Condors, before 4,491 fans at Rabobank Arena on Tuesday.

The Thunder, who have clinched their fourth consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berth by owning a series of tie-breakers over Ontario (five points back in the conference) and Las Vegas (three points back), received goal-scoring support from James Bates, J.F. Caudron, Jason Pitton and Matt Robinson, who won for the third time in four games.
Launching into typical late-season form, Kelly Czuy had his first multi-goal game of the season.
(photo by George Steckler)

Andrew Perugini picked up the win in net, making 21 stops.

The Condors' Dan Kissel opened the scoring just 1:49 in with a snap shot goal from between the circles, but the Thunder retaliated with three unanswered goals for a 3-1 lead after one period.

Bates knotted the score off a turnover, drilling a slapshot through Timo Pielmeier's five-hole at 7:57 for his 27th goal of the season, and D'Alvise followed with a power-play goal for a 2-1 Thunder lead with 5:21 left on a drive from the high slot.

Another Condor turnover produced a loose puck for J.F. Caudron in the right corner, who found Czuy all alone at the front of the net. Czuy deked Pielmeier to the backhand and lifted a shot under the crossbar with 3:14 left in the period for a two-goal cushion.

Stephane Goulet's 28th goal of the season cut the deficit to 3-2 when his one-timer at the right circle found the back of the net with 5:11 gone in the second period, but the Thunder responded with a pair of goals to take their biggest lead of the game after two periods, 5-2.

Following two physical shifts spent in the Bakersfield zone, Robinson wired a wrist shot from off the rush at the left circle to hit the 30-goal plateau, hiking the lead to 4-2 with 8:57 left.

Then, Pitton's ninth goal of the season boosted Stockton's edge to 5-2 on a 2-on-1 break, when his snap shot at the right circle beat Pielmeier to the glove side with 3:20 left.

Eric Regan took a cross-ice pass from Stephane Goulet and netted his 16th of the year on a wrist shot at the right circle, cutting the gap to 5-3 with 8:50 gone in the third period.

A defensive turnover by the Thunder resulted in an Adam Naglich goal just 3:07 later, cutting the deficit down to a goal.

Yet, the Thunder were undeterred and put the game away on Czuy's second of the game with 3:24 left in regulation, capitalizing on a cross-ice pass by Pitton with a one-timer at the right goal post.

Pielmeier took the loss making 45 saves.

NOTES: Before the game, Mark Pavli was released ... the Thunder scratched Brett Hemingway (healthy), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Trevor Hunt (injured reserve), Garet Hunt (injured reserve), Riley Emmerson (injured reserve) and Craig Valette (injured reserve) ... Stockton outshot Bakersfield, 51-25 (a season-high for shots) and had 23 shots on goal in the second period ... Pitton had a goal and an assist in his first game back from the American Hockey League ... the Thunder improved to 6-3-2 in the head-to-head series ... Bakersfield had sole possession of first place for 55 straight games until the Thunder victory on Tuesday night ... Robinson's 30th goal gave the Thunder their first pair of 30-goal scorers (joining D'Alvise) in team history.

The Thunder returns to play tomorrow with its next game at 7:00 p.m., hosting the Bakersfield Condors at Stockton Arena for the regular season home finale. The game can be heard on and viewed online exclusively at http://www.stocktonthunder.com/ , courtesy of B2 Networks (audio is free of charge).

The Thunder was voted "Best Local Sports Team" by readers of the San Joaquin Magazine, has led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew 223,854 fans to Stockton Arena in 2008-09. Season Tickets for 2009-10 are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit http://www.stocktonthunder.com/ .


THREE STARS:
1. STK - 34 Kelly Czuy
2. STK - 17 Jason Pitton
3. BAK - 29 Eric Regan


*Reprinted by Oilers Jambalaya with permission from Stockton Thunder Professional Hockey Club, ECHL. The Stockton Thunder are a proud 'AA' affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and Springfield Falcons (AHL) *

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