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Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Stockton Thunder Wins Against Vegas - A Game Recap

GAME RECAP: Stockton 3 - Las Vegas 2 (SO)

03/26/2010 10:54 PM -
Perugini's 19 saves guides Thunder to critical 3-2 SO win vs. Las Vegas

VIDEO: Highlights and postgame locker room reaction
AUDIO: Game highlights

STOCKTON, Calif. - Goaltender Andrew Perugini made 19 saves, including all three in a shootout, to help guide the Stockton Thunder (31-26-9, 71 points) to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Pacific Division rival Las Vegas Wranglers, before 5,717 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday.
Andrew Perugini, perfect in the shootout, claimed his 21st win of the year.
(photo by George Steckler)

The Thunder, who claimed their first shootout win since Mar. 1, 2009 (snapping seven straight shootout losses), reduced its magic number to five to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth after Alaska defeated Ontario, 2-1 earlier in the evening.

James Bates and Igor Gongalsky scored for the Thunder while Oren Eizenman put the game away with a shootout winner in the fourth round, firing a snap shot past Jimmy Spratt to the stick side.

In a game that marked the first time both teams were meeting in Stockton since last year's second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs (Game 4), Bates gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead just 4:15 into the game when he scored his 26th goal of the season of the rush, beating Spratt with a snap shot from the right circle.

A meticulous puck possession game yielded only four shots on goal to Las Vegas and Stockton also killed off 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

Gongalsky's 14th goal of the season elevated the Thunder lead to 2-0 with 4:55 left in the second period, sneaking a wrist shot through Spratt's five-hole from between the circles.

Las Vegas crawled back to within a goal just 21 seconds later, when Greg Collins' sharp-angled pass at the left wing caromed off traffic and into the back of the net.

After the Wranglers endured several penalties to begin the third period, including an altercation between Chris Frank and Ryan Constant, Chris Neiszner capitalized on the reciprocated momentum with his 14th goal of the year to tie the score at 2-2 with 6:25 left in regulation after he fired a wrist shot from the right circle.

After a scoreless overtime, ex-Wrangler Kelly Czuy scored in the second round and newcomer Matt Marquardt followed with a snap shot from between the circles in the third round, giving Stockton a 2-0 shootout lead after two rounds.

Perugini denied Alex Bourret's wrist shot in the third round to set the stage for Eizenman's game winner, firing his forehand bid after swooping in from the right wing.

Spratt took the shootout loss in a 34 save effort.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Brett Hemingway (healthy), Mark Pavli (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Justin DaCosta (healthy), Riley Emmerson (injured reserve) and Craig Valette (injured reserve) ... Stockton outshot Las Vegas, 37-21 and owned a 7-1 edge early in the game ... the Thunder improved its home record to 16-10-7 ... Bates' goal marked the ninth time in the last 10 home games that Stockton scored the game's first goal.

The Thunder continues the seven-game homestand with its next game tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., hosting the Las Vegas Wranglers at Stockton Arena. The game can be heard and viewed online exclusively at , 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

1. STK - 35 Andrew Perugini
2. STK - 28 James Bates
3. LV - 22 Chris Neiszner

*Reprinted 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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