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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stockton Thunder Lose Opening Game 6-3 / A Game Recap

10/15/2010 11:15 PM - Thunder set back on Opening Night before 6,117 fans

FINAL STATS: Box score
VIDEO: Highlights and postgame locker room comments
AUDIO: Game highlights

STOCKTON, Calif. - Kellen Briggs made 24 saves and the Ontario Reign led wire-to-wire, capitalizing off five unanswered goals to send the Stockton Thunder to a 6-3 defeat on Opening Night, before 6,117 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday night.

The Thunder, who were led offensively by Fraser Clair with three points (2g-1a), dropped its fourth straight season opening defeat. Ontario's Tim Kraus, Jordan Morrison and rookie Aaron Lewadniuk each chipped in with two points.

Ontario got out to a fast start with three goals in the first ten minutes and took a 3-0 lead after the first period.

Shawn Collymore buried a one-timer from between the circles just 53 seconds into the game, followed by a Jeff Corey goal where he turned the defense inside-out, from off the rush and slipped a backhander through Tyson Sexsmith's five hole for a 2-0 edge with 2:31 into the first period.

Kyle Kraemer's bid from 40 feet out, straightaway, slipped through traffic and boosted the Ontario lead to 3-0 with 10:23 gone.

Ontario padded the lead to 4-0 in the second period on Matt Delahey's drive from the right point for a power-play goal at 1:32. Chaz Johnson then capitalized on a rebound at the left goal post following Sexsmith's stop on Eric Doyle's bouncing shot, boosting the edge to 5-0 at 7:48.

The Thunder finally got on the board with 4:05 left in the second when Clair banged in a rebound from the right circle, after Chris D'Alvise and Jason Pitton failed to connect on a two-on-one, tic-tac-toe style set-up.

The goal sparked a response by the Thunder who used a more physical approach to outshoot Ontario, 24-18 over the final two periods and claim three goals in the final 25 minutes.

Following Lewadniuk's first pro goal at 9:34 of the third period where he cashed in a rebound at the left goal post, Clair cut the deficit to 6-2 following a turnover with 4:09 to play, going to the backhand on Briggs from the right circle.

Jesse Gimblett, who began the third period with a scrap against Ontario's Luke Beaverson at 6:14, collected the first goal of his professional career with 21.4 seconds to play when he capitalized with a screen in front of Briggs and re-directed Clair's wrist shot from the left circle for a power-play goal.

Sexsmith took the loss in net with 24 saves.

NOTES: The Thunder scratched Trevor Hunt (injured reserve), Jordan Foreman (injured reserve) and Scott Howes (healthy) ... Sexsmith stopped a penalty shot by Tim Kraus with 15:28 left in the first period, closing the five-hole on Kraus' wrist shot ... the Thunder were outshot, 30-27 by Ontario but had a 13-8 shots edge in the third period ... the Thunder went 1-for-3 on the power-play ... Stockton's last season opening win was in 2006-07, when they opened on the road with a 6-1 victory over Bakersfield.

Stockton and Ontario will play in a rematch tomorrow at Stockton Arena, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (1280 KWSX/

A two-time recipient of the ECHL "Award of Excellence," Thunder was voted "Best Local Sports Team" by readers of the San Joaquin Magazine, led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the fifth consecutive season in 2009-10. Season Tickets, mini-plans and individual 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

-Reprinted at with permission from the Stockton Thunder-

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