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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stockton Thunder Drop Conference Finals Opener / A Game Recap / Game 2 Goes Tonight


04/30/2010 8:20 PM

GETTING WARMER ...
Thunder drop Conference Finals opener despite two-goal rally

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FINAL STATS: BOX SCORE
AUDIO: Game highlights
AUDIO: Matt Thomas postgame comments


BOISE, Idaho - Veteran Marty Flichel's three points (1g-2a) and Richard Bachman's 29 saves were enough to thwart a late comeback by the Stockton Thunder, who dropped a 4-2 loss to the Idaho Steelheads in Game 1 of the National Conference Final of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs at Qwest Arena on Friday.

The Thunder, who outshot Idaho, 31-22 and scored twice in the last 31 minutes of play to climb out of a 4-0 hole, dropped their first road defeat in the postseason since Game 1 of the first round at Alaska, snapping a four-game road win streak. Matt Robinson and Ryan Constant scored for the Thunder, while Bryan Pitton stopped all 11 shots he saw after replacing Andrew Perugini in the second period.

STOCKTON VS. IDAHO - NATIONAL CONFERENCE FINALS
Game 1: Stockton 2 at Idaho 4
Game 2: Stockton at Idaho - Saturday, May 1 - 6:10 p.m. (Qwest Arena)
Game 3: Idaho at Stockton - Wednesday, May 5 - 7:00 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 4: Idaho at Stockton - Friday, May 7 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 5: Idaho at Stockton - Saturday, May 8 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena) *
Game 6: Stockton at Idaho - Tuesday, May 11 - 6:10 p.m. (Qwest Arena) *
Game 7: Stockton at Idaho - Wednesday, May 12 - 6:10 p.m. (Qwest Arena) *
* If necessary

"We dug ourselves a hole, but let's call a spade a spade," said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. "They got two bounce goals - one off a skate and another from a bounce off the boards. That's the difference. It wasn't nearly our best game of the playoffs, but there's a lot of positives we take out of it. I like the way we played. I can walk away from this game feeling like we're potentially in a good spot."

Idaho built a 2-0 lead after the first period on successive power-play goals, beginning with Mark McCutcheon's snap shot from off the rush with 4:02 into the game when he converted off Marty Flichel's drop pass from between the circles.

Flichel then notched his first goal of the postseason with 5:53 left in the period when his slow rolling slap shot at the left circle caromed off traffic and re-directed past the left pad of Perugini.

McCutcheon snuck a wrist shot past Perugini's glove from the short side just 45 seconds into the second to hike the Idaho lead to 3-0, and an errant bounce off a dump-in by Guillaume Monast, which trickled behind Perugini, found Mathieu Tousignant alone at the front for a 4-0 Thunder hole with 10:58 left in the second period.

After the Thunder replaced Perugini with Bryan Pitton, a Robinson second-chance rebound found its way through Richard Bachman's five hole after James Bates connected with Robinson on an out-numbered attack, closing the gap to 4-1 with 9:27 left in the period.

The Thunder continued to benefit off a tightened game after the Robinson goal and drew to within a 4-2 deficit on Constant's third goal of the postseason with 10:31 left in the game. Constant kept in a clearing attempt at the left point and drilled a wrist shot through traffic while Garet Hunt set a screen in front of Bachman.

Idaho closed out the game by picking up their third home victory of the postseason.

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 fell to 4-3 in lifetime in Game 1 situations ... Stockton was kept to an 0-for-4 clip on the power-play and Idaho converted at 2-for-6 ... the Thunder fell to 0-3 in the last three playoff games at Qwest Arena, dating back to 2007.

The Thunder will square off against the Steelheads for Game 2 of the National Conference Final series tomorrow at Qwest Arena at 6:10 p.m. Both teams take the series to Stockton Arena, beginning with Game 3, on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:00 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 http://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 2010-11 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. IDH - 14 Mark McCutcheon
2. IDH - 16 Marty Flichel
3. IDH - 31 Richard Bachman

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