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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stockton Thunder Up 3-1 In Series / Game 4 Recap

04/23/2010 9:27 PM

THREE'S COMPANY
Robinson's three points help Thunder take 3-1 series lead, put Bakersfield on brink of elimination
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FINAL STATS: BOX SCORE
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame locker room reaction
AUDIO: Game highlights




STOCKTON, Calif. - Matt Robinson scored a playoff career-high three points (1g-2a), helping the Stockton Thunder turn in a wire-to-wire lead and sink the Bakersfield Condors in a 6-2 victory in Game 4 of the National Conference Semifinals of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 4,932 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday night.

Stockton took a 3-1 lead in the series, put Bakersfield on the brink of elimination in the best-of-seven set and can advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in club history with a win as early as Saturday at Stockton Arena in Game 5.

Robinson, who turned in his postseason best just one game after sitting out as a healthy scratch, helped the Thunder spur a four-goal rally in the second period. Oren Eizenman, Bryan Young, Chris D'Alvise, Jason Pitton and Matt Marquardt chipped in with a goal and Andrew Perugini posted a 27 save-effort to improve to 6-2 in the playoffs.

Garet Hunt also chipped in with a pair of assists - his first came on Young's game-winning goal.

STOCKTON VS. BAKERSFIELD - NATIONAL CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Game 1: Stockton 3 at Bakersfield 2 (OT)
Game 2: Stockton 4 at Bakersfield 3 (OT)
Game 3: Bakersfield 3 at Stockton 0
Game 4: Bakersfield 2 at Stockton 6
Game 5: Bakersfield at Stockton - Saturday, April 24 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 6: Stockton at Bakersfield - Tuesday, Apr. 27 - 7:00 p.m. (Rabobank Arena) *
Game 7: Stockton at Bakersfield - Wednesday, Apr. 28 - 7:00 p.m. (Rabobank Arena) *
* If necessary

"There were so many players who deserved the player of the game honor we usually award in our dressing room after the game," said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. "It was a great effort by the collective bunch and from the Bryan Youngs to the Matt Robinsons to the Garet Hunts, everyone committed to a full, physical effort tonight and they were rewarded with it. There were many things we have to take from tonight's game into Game 5 because we know it will be the toughest one so far."
Oren Eizenman was named first star of the game with a goal and assist, parlaying an all-around effort.
(photo by George Steckler)

The Thunder came out flying in the opening period with a furious physical forecheck and outshot the Condors, 8-2 in the first several minutes. Capping off the effort, Robinson's third goal of the playoffs put the Thunder ahead, 1-0 when he corralled James Bates' centering pass and whistled a snap shot past J.P. Levasseur from between the circles with 59.7 seconds left.

A four-goal outburst in the second period powered the Thunder to a 5-1 advantage, using two separate pairs of goals around Bakersfield's only tally in the period. Eizenman took J.F. Caudron's relay and seared a wrist shot over Levasseur's glove for a breakaway goal just 53 seconds into the period, hiking the lead to 2-0.

Young crashed the net on a rebound produced by a shot from Hunt, in close and boosted the lead to 3-0 with 15:14 left in the period. A third-chance rebound though by Stephane Goulet put Bakersfield on the board, trailing 3-1 with 7:04 elapsed in the period.

The Thunder continued their relentless forecheck game and D'Alvise restored the three-goal cushion when he slipped a loose puck from nearly at the right goal line with 10:05 remaining for his first goal of the series.

Pitton finished off a collective successful forecheck when he stole a pass at the right circle and zipped a wrist shot through Levasseur's five-hole with 59.8 seconds left, boosting the lead to 5-1 after Hunt leveled Ken Morin with a check in the right corner.

In a more controlled, conservative pace in the third period, the Thunder maintained their margin through the first several minutes but allowed Bakersfield to get no closer than a three-goal cushion. Eric Regan's power-play goal cut the lead to 5-2 with 9:53 left in the third period when he buried a loose puck from the right circle into an open net.

Bakersfield pulled Levasseur for an extra attacker on a power-play with three minutes remaining but the Thunder put on the finishing touches with Marquardt's empty-net goal with 1:10 left in the game.

Levasseur, who was the first Bakersfield goaltender to start two consecutive games, took the loss with 18 saves.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Riley Emmerson (inactive list), Brett Hemingway (inactive list), Trevor Hunt (inactive list), Justin DaCosta (healthy) and Kelly Czuy (injury, day-to-day) ... the Thunder improved to 4-2, lifetime in Game 4 situations ... Robinson's first period goal was the first time the Thunder scored the first goal of the game in the entire postseason ... only two infractions (a pair of fighting majors to Igor Gongalsky and Sasha Pokulok in the first period) were called through two periods and Stockton never had a power-play in the game ... the Thunder improved to 3-1 at home in this year's playoffs.

The Thunder can wrap up the series at Stockton Arena with a victory on Saturday in Game 5, facing Bakersfield beginning at 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard and viewed online exclusively at www.stocktonthunder.com, courtesy of B2 Networks (audio is free of charge). Tickets for Thunder home playoff games are available by calling (209) 373-1700 or by visiting www.StocktonTickets.com.

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 - 9 Oren Eizenman
2. STK - 71 Matt Robinson
3. STK - 24 Garet Hunt


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