Thunder stage comeback win on Perugini's 39 saves
STOCKTON, Calif. - Goaltender Andrew Perugini won his 12th game in the last 14 appearances with a 39-save effort to guide the Stockton Thunder (27-26-5, 59 points) to a 2-1 comeback victory in a shootout over the Idaho Steelheads before 4,794 fans at Stockton Arena on Sunday.
The Thunder went 3-1-0 on its four-game homestand and match last year's total of 59 points, who were aided by Ryan Huddy's power-play goal in the third period. Garrett Bembridge scored Idaho's only goal in regulation and netminder Rejean Beauchemin was held winless despite making 22 saves.
The Thunder killed off three Idaho power-plays in a scoreless first period, which included a 5-on-3 situation for two minutes and a full five-minute major man-advantage that claimed Igor Gongalsky on a game misconduct for elbowing. Perugini highlighted the stonewalling with a save on Mark Bomersback, denying a one-timer on a backdoor pass at the blocker side post.
Idaho broke through with the game's first goal with Garrett Bembridge's 18th goal of the year on a power-play at 11:05 of the second period, one-timing a sharp-angled shot from below the left circle through Perugini's five hole.
Beauchemin kept the Thunder at bay through two periods with 12 saves, including a highlight reel save on James Bates late in the second period when he denied the Thunder rookie on a rebound chance at the left circle.
Huddy evened the score on a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 7:22 of the third period, taking Cory Urquhart's pass in the slot and ripping a snap shot past Beauchemin's glove.
Both teams played through a scoreless overtime and the Thunder capitalized on shootout goals by Bates, Ryan MacMurchy and Huddy. It was Huddy's goal in the fourth round that was the eventual shootout winner, when he beat Beauchemin with a snap shot from between the hash marks.
Perugini denied former junior teammate Kris Sparre on a forehand bid in the fifth round to secure the victory.
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Marc-Andre Bernier (injured reserve), Jordan Bendfeld (injured reserve) and Cleve Kinley (suspension) ... Stockton finished the regular season series at 5-3-1 against Idaho and were outshot by the Steelheads 40-22... the Thunder is the only team to hand Idaho two losses when the Steelheads lead after two periods.
The Thunder returns to play on Tuesday, March 3 on the road against the Phoenix RoadRunners, starting at 6:05 p.m. at U.S. Airways Center. The game is available on radio at 1420 KSTN and for viewing online (audio is free-of-charge) for a $7 charge at http://www.stocktonthunder.com/ (courtesy of B2 Networks).
The proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers and American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons, the Thunder was voted "Best Local Sports Team" by readers of the 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, group, individual tickets and mini plan packages 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 - 35 Andrew Perugini 2. STK - 26 Ryan Huddy 3. IDH - 41 Garett Bembridge
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