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Five New Thunder Fly In, Agree To Terms

December 31, 2008 - ECHL (ECHL) Stockton Thunder

STOCKTON, Calif. - The Stockton Thunder, the proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers and American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons, has agreed to terms with rookie center Judd Blackwater, left wing Igor Gongalsky (GAWN-gall-skee), defenseman Kenny MacAulay (Mick-ALL-ee), defenseman Daryl Marcoux (mar-KOO) and veteran defenseman Matt O'Dette (oh-DET), Thunder head coach Matt Thomas announced today. Per club policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Blackwater, Gongalsky, MacAulay and Marcoux are expected to make their debuts in a Thunder uniform Wednesday against the Alaska Aces, beginning at 8:15 p.m. (1420 KSTN/StocktonThunder.com) from Sullivan Arena. O'Dette remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury and has been placed on the 30-day injured reserve list. Making room on the roster, left wing Mike Lalonde was placed on the three-day injured reserve list and right wing David Rohlfs was placed on the seven-day injured reserve list.

Additionally, it was announced defenseman Dan McGoff has been released.

"Bringing Judd, Igor, Kenny, Daryl and Matt along was an opportunity to build our team based on character and leadership," said Thomas. "All five players bring a tremendous element of exceptional character. That's why we're happy to bring them aboard and they will create a seamless transition for our hockey club."

ROOKIE PROSPECT BLACKWATER AMONG NEWEST THUNDER FORWARDS

Blackwater, 21, makes the Thunder his second ECHL stop in his rookie season after skating in 30 games for the Fresno Falcons this season, scoring 14 points (5g-9a) while adding 23 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 193-center spent the previous three years (2005-08) of his junior hockey career with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, scoring 114 points (50g-64a) and amassing 253 penalty minutes in 171 games.

The Lethbridge, Alberta native helped guide the Chiefs to a Memorial Cup Championship last season, ranking second on the Chiefs with a career-high 31 goals and adding a career-high 60 points (31g-29a) in 71 games. Blackwater's 18 postseason points (10g-18a) ranked tied for third on the club in playoff scoring.

2008 ECHL ALL-STAR GONGALSKY MAKES NEW HOME IN STOCKTON

Gongalsky, 22, participated in the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game at Stockton Arena, helping guide the National Conference to a 10-7 victory and has skated in 91 career ECHL games with Fresno, scoring 55 points (24g-31a) and amassing 194 penalty minutes. The native of Kiev, Ukraine scored three points (1g-2a) in six Kelly Cup Playoff games last year and posted 12 points (6g-6a) and 54 penalty minutes in 28 games for Fresno this season before the club ceased operations on Dec. 22.

The 6-foot, 225-pound forward spent three years (2004-07) of his major junior career in the Ontario Hockey League with the Owen Sound Attack and Oshawa Generals, skating in 192 career games while scoring 71 points (31g-40a) and notching 270 penalty minutes. Gongalsky added 11 points (6g-5a) in 27 career junior playoff games.

TWO-TIME ECHL ALL-STAR MacAULAY AMONG NEWEST TO THUNDER BLUELINE

MacAulay, 24, was named to the National Conference roster for the 2009 ECHL All-Star Game on Tuesday, the second consecutive honor in his career while ranking tied for seventh in scoring among ECHL defensemen with 19 points (3g-16a) in just 30 games for Fresno, additionally posting 55 penalty minutes while serving as Fresno's captain for 2008-09. MacAulay's first All-Star appearance was in Stockton last season at the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game when he was a member of the National Conference.

MacAulay's 16 assists are tied for fifth among the league's blueliners and split last season between Fresno and the American Hockey League's Rockford Ice Hogs, posting 21 points (4g-17a) in 43 ECHL games while adding three points (1g-2a) in six Kelly Cup Playoff games. The 5-foot-10, 193-pound defenseman was loaned to Rockford on Feb. 6, 2008 and spent the remainder of the regular season with the Ice Hogs, appearing in 18 AHL games while posting an assist.

The native of Baddeck, Nova Scotia split four years (2003-07) of his college hockey career between the University of Findlay and University of Vermont (NCAA), skating in 146 career games while amassing 62 penalty minutes (12g-50a) and 129 penalty minutes. MacAulay enjoyed a career-high 21 points (4g-17a) in 39 games as a 2004-05 sophomore for Vermont.

FRESNO PLUS/MINUS LEADER MARCOUX JOINS THUNDER BLUELINE

Marcoux, 25, is in his second full season as a pro and has skated in 94 career ECHL games for Fresno and the Trenton Devils, posting 28 points (5g-23a) and 102 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defenseman led Fresno last season with a plus/minus rating of +18 and notched 21 points (4g-17a) and 80 penalty minutes in 62 ECHL games, additionally posting a goal in six Kelly Cup Playoff games.

The Slave Lake, Alberta native notched seven points (1g-6a) and 20 penalty minutes in 30 games this year for Fresno before the club ceased operations and spent all four years (2003-07) of his college hockey career at Princeton University (NCAA), skating in 126 career games for the Tigers while scoring 18 points (5g-13a) and posting 102 penalty minutes.

SEASONED VETERAN O'DETTE ADDS MUSCLE, LEADERSHIP TO DEFENSIVE CORPS

O'Dette, 33, is the oldest player in Thunder history and has parlayed an 11-year plus career as a veteran pro, split between the AHL with Saint John, Quebec and Hamilton and in the ECHL with Fresno and Roanoke, skating in 614 career games while amassing 1,503 penalty minutes and 109 points (34g-75a). O'Dette has participated in 64 career playoff games as a professional, scoring three assists while helping guide Saint John to a Calder Cup championship in 2001.

O'Dette had five points (2g-3a) and 55 penalty minutes in 16 games this year before joining the Thunder.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound blueliner has amassed 34 games of ECHL postseason experience, served as Fresno's captain for three seasons (2005-08) and helped guide the Falcons the club's first Pacific Division title, 100-point season and a berth in the National Conference Finals in 2005-06.

O'Dette was originally selected by the Florida Panthers in the seventh round (157th overall) of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. The Oshawa, Ontario native enjoyed a trip to NHL training camp in 2002-03 with the Montreal Canadiens, scoring two goals in seven games and was a member of the club's Stanley Cup Playoff roster that year.

O'Dette's junior career spanned four seasons (1992-06) between the Kitchener Rangers and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, notching 386 penalty minutes in 183 career games, adding 35 points (11g-24a) from the blueline.

The Thunder was voted "Best Local Sports Team" by readers of San Joaquin Magazine, has led the ECHL in attendance for three consecutive seasons and drew 239,337 fans to Stockton Arena in 2007-08. Season tickets, group tickets, individual tickets and mini plans are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit www.StocktonThunder.com.

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ECHL Stories from December 31, 2008


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