January 27, 2013 - ECHL (ECHL) - Stockton Thunder
STOCKTON, Calif. - The fur was flying in the Stockton Thunder's eighth-annual Teddy Bear Toss game, which saw thousands of teddy bears fly onto the ice in a wild affair.
The back-and-forth battle went to overtime thanks to Mitch Wahl's goal with 30 seconds left in regulation, and Mark Isherwood won it in overtime for the Utah Grizzlies, sending the Stockton Thuder (21-16-5-3, 50 points) to a 4-3 defeat in front of 8,026 fans at Stockton Arena on Saturday.
"A five-on-three in overtime on two pretty average calls to put us in that position," Thunder head coach Matt Thomas said. "We did a heck of a job killing it. The penalty expires, and our guy doesn't get out of the box. To lose two games in a row on errors that aren't your own to a certain degree is tough to swallow."
"But," Thomas continued, "again, we didn't do enough to win the hockey game. That's on us."
Center Harrison Reed led the way with two goals, including the teddy bear goal just over five minutes into the first period. Center Justin Maylan chipped in with a goal in the third period.
Fans did not have to wait long to toss the teddy bears. On a power play, forward Maxime Boisclair found Reed between the circles. Reed one-timed the puck by Owen into the net for the teddy bear goal 5:14 into the first period.
Once the puck sailed into the goal, fans began to toss a cascade of teddy bears onto the ice. Some ten minutes later, thousands of teddy bears had been collected and the Thunder found themselves up 1-0 thanks to Reed's goal.
"It was pretty exciting," Reed said, "It was a power play goal. I got a nice pass in the slot. I was pretty wide open. It was neat to see the teddy bears fly over our head as we scored."
Not satisfied with just the teddy bear goal, Reed doubled his luck at the 14:12 mark, taking a pass from defenseman Tony DeHart at the left circle and firing a wrist shot by Owen to put the Thunder up 2-0. It was the second power play goal for the Thunder in as many opportunities.
The Grizzlies cut the lead in half on a five-on-three opportunity. Wahl converted on a wrist shot from the point that ricocheted off the post and into the goal, making the count 2-1 just 50 seconds into the second period.
At the 14:39 mark of the middle frame, the Grizzlies were awarded a penalty shot due to tripping from behind. Colin Vock converted the penalty with a backhanded deke to beat Reichard and tie the game at 2-2.
The Thunder took back the lead midway through the third period. Defenseman Colton Hayes wound up a big shot from the point that bounced off Owen's pads. Maylan pounced on the rebound, blasting the puck into the net and putting the Thunder on top 3-2 9:45 into the final frame.
With 30 seconds left in the game, the Grizzlies, having pulled Owen for an extra attacker, forced overtime when Wahl sent in a shot from the point through traffic and into the bottom right corner of the net, tying the game at 3-3.
Isherwood scored the game-winner for Utah 2:26 into overtime on a five-on-three power play.
"It's not just one thing. It's a lot of things that we can't pinpoint right now," said Reed, "There are a lot of things we need to work on as a team: the confidence in our team, the confidence in our game, the confidence in everything and each other too."