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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thunder Gets Silenced / GAME RECAP: Utah 6 - Stockton 2 (ECHL)

GAME RECAP: Utah 6 - Stockton 2

03/19/2010 9:55 PM -

Koskinen victimizes Thunder with 36 saves in ECHL debut


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

STOCKTON, Calif. - Mikko Koskinen, less than a year after being drafted 31st overall by the New York Islanders, made 36 saves in his ECHL debut and the Utah Grizzlies scored five unanswered goals in the first two periods to send the Stockton Thunder (29-25-9, 67 points) to a 6-2 defeat before 5,456 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday night.

The Thunder, who lost in regulation on home ice for only the third time in the last 19 games (12-3-4), fell to sixth place in the National Conference but maintained a four point deficit behind the first place Bakersfield Condors in the Pacific Division, who lost, 5-1 to Victoria.

James Bates and Matt Robinson scored for Stockton, while Utah was led offensively by Ryan Kinasewich's pair of goals.

James Bates got the Thunder off to a good start with a 1-0 lead and his 23rd goal in the first period. (photo by George Steckler)

Bates' 23rd goal of the season, 4:14 into the game helped the Thunder draw first blood with a 1-0 lead, depositing a rebound at the goal mouth after Mikko Koskinen stopped Anthony Aiello's bid from the left point.

Utah leveled the score at 1-1 on Simon Ferguson's first goal in a Utah uniform, when he set a screen in front of Andrew Perugini and got a piece of Matt Sorteberg's drive from the right point.

Vladimir Nikiforov continued the Utah rally with his 17th goal of the season, tapping in a rebound at the doorstep for a 2-1 lead with 3:30 gone in the second period. A.J. Perry converted a backdoor set-up by Dylan Hunter from the right circle, hiking Utah's edge to 3-1 just 2:09 later.

Back-to-back shorthanded goals by Ryan Kinasewich, 2:24 apart opened the Grizzlies advantage to 5-1starting with his 40th goal of the season on a breakaway with 10:38 remaining.

Kinasewich then finished off a 2-on-1 break with Matt Clarke on the ensuing penalty kill, tapping the puck into a half open net at the left goal post.

A post-to-post feed by James Sixsmith found Tom May at the right wing, who slipped in a one-timer with his forehand with 1:15 into the third period and boosted Utah's margin to 6-1.

The Thunder finally bookended the scoring with a Matt Robinson shorthanded breakaway goal just 4:03 later, closing the gap to 6-2 when his wrist shot beat Koskinen to the blocker side.

Koskinen wrapped up his ECHL debut stopping an array of Thunder quality scoring chances in 10 saves for the final period. Perugini took the loss with 23 stops.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched J.F. Caudron (injured reserve), Igor Gongalsky (injured, day-to-day), Matt O'Dette (healthy) and Craig Valette (injured reserve) ...

Stockton outshot Utah, 38-29 and fell 2-3-2 in the head-to-head series this year ... Chris D'Alvise's assist on Bates' goal gave him 12 points (4g-8a) in the last six games ... Edmonton Oilers assistant general manager Kevin Prendergast was in attendance at the game.

The Thunder continues the seven-game homestand tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., hosting the Utah Grizzlies at Stockton Arena in a weekend rematch. 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. UTA - 9 Ryan Kinasewich
2. UTA - 14 Tom May
3. UTA - 41 Mikko Koskinen

*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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