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2008-09 Brings Largest Fan Base, Deepest Playoff Run

May 13, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL) - Stockton Thunder News Release


THUNDER 2008-09 OVERALL RECORD: 32-33-7, 71 points

FINISH: Reached second round - lost Pacific Division Final, 4-3 to Las Vegas

STARTING OFF: "This is a very big moment for us. We are a proud franchise that wants to build a winning tradition, and it's important we went out and won our first series."

- Thunder head coach Matt Thomas after a 5-4 win vs. Ontario in Game 7, advancing to the second round, The Record, 4/23/09

BACKTRACKING: A RECAP OF THE KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS

THUNDER BEFORE REIGN IN SEVEN GAMES - STOCKTON TOPPLES DIVISION CHAMPS

IN A NUTSHELL: The Thunder defeated the #1 seed Ontario Reign, 4-3 in a best-of-seven first round series (Pacific Division Semifinal) which was the first playoff series victory in Thunder history ... Game 7, arguably one of the greatest games in Thunder history, finished with a 5-4 Stockton victory at Citizens Business Bank Arena in which the Thunder survived an extra-attacker flurry by the Reign in the waning seconds while Craig Valette notched the game-winning goal in the third period ... the Thunder scored four goals in the first period of Game 7 ... Cory Urquhart led the Thunder in scoring for the series with 9 points (6g-3a) and Valette tallied three game winning goals in the series ... goaltender Parker Van Buskirk, signed as a free agent on 4/12 after Andrew Perugini was placed on injured reserve, went 3-1 in the series ... Stockton won Game 4 in overtime, 5-4 on James Bates' goal at 2:28 of the first sudden-death OT period ... the game was the playoff debut of Van Buskirk, who made 29 saves for the Thunder ... the Thunder evened the series at 1-1 with a 6-5 win in Game 2 at Citizens Business Bank Arena, tying a club playoff record with six goals - Craig Valette scored twice in the game ... Ontario took Game 1 in a 4-3 victory despite a third period rally by the Thunder, who tied the game on a Cory Urquhart power-play goal which marked a two-goal rally in the final frame before Shawn Germain's game-winner.

THUNDER GOES THE DISTANCE WITH LAS VEGAS, DROPS SECOND ROUND IN SEVEN

IN A NUTSHELL: The Thunder were defeated by the Las Vegas Wranglers, 4-3 in a best-of-seven second round series (Pacific Division Final) which featured the Thunder playing hockey into the month of May for the first time in team history ... Stockton forced Game 7 with a 3-1 win at Orleans Arena on May 5, courtesy of Kenny MacAulay's game-winning goal and dropped Game 7 the next night, 5-1 to the Wranglers on Dan Spang's three assist effort ... Las Vegas' Glenn Fisher made 36 saves in Game 5 to put the Thunder at the brink of elimination in a 4-2 Wranglers win ... Las Vegas tied the series at 2-2 on a game-winning overtime goal by Mick Lawrence just 28 seconds into OT for a 3-2 Las Vegas win ... it was just the second time in the 2009 postseason the Thunder lost when scoring the first goal of a game ... Ryan Huddy scored three points (2g-1a) and Parker Van Buskirk made 38 saves to help Stockton throttle Las Vegas, 5-1 in Game 3 at Stockton Arena to take a 2-1 series lead ... Las Vegas tied the series, 1-1 in a 4-2 win in Game 2 ... just two days after its thrilling Game 7 win at Ontario, the Thunder returned home to a raucous crowd and took advantage in a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the series, courtesy of a three-goal flurry in the first period ... Cory Urquhart scored a pair of goals in the game, including the game-winner in the third period.

THUNDER FANS ARE LEAGUE'S BEST FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT YEAR

IN A NUTSHELL: The Stockton Thunder finished the 2008-09 regular season as the ECHL's leader in attendance for the fourth consecutive season, drawing 223,854 fans at Stockton Arena and averaging 6,218 fans per game. The Thunder is the first team in the ECHL to lead the league in attendance for four straight seasons since the Florida Everblades accomplished the feat for five straight years (2000-05). It is also the fourth straight year the Thunder surpassed the mark of 220,000 fans for one season. The Thunder has 13 sellouts at the 9,737-seat Stockton Arena since entering the league in 2005-06, drew a club record 244,085 fans to Stockton Arena in 2006-07 and drew the fifth largest crowd in ECHL All-Star Game history on January 23, 2008 with a total of 7,455 fans.

TOP FIVE CROWDS AT STOCKTON ARENA - 2008-09

1. Nov. 8 vs. Victoria - 9,737*

2. Oct. 18 vs. Fresno - 8,723

3. Mar. 28 vs. Victoria - 8,668

4. Feb. 28 vs. Idaho - 8,176

5. Dec. 6 vs. Ontario - 8,174

* Denotes sellout

THUNDER TOPPLES TEAM CHARITY MARK - RAISES OVER $550,000 IN ONE SEASON

IN A NUTSHELL: The Stockton Thunder, in conjunction with its charitable arm, the Stockton Thunder and Lightning Foundation, announced an organization all-time high of $550,683 was raised in cash, tickets, memorabilia and other items for charity in 2008-09, toppling its charitable mark of over $400,000 set in 2007-08. "Thunder Goes Pink III," presented by St. Joseph's Medical Center in association with County Bank and MetroPCS, was among the highlights, raising $40,380 in cash, tickets and memorabilia, split evenly between the event beneficiaries (American Cancer Society - Stockton Field Office and the St. Joseph's Foundation - Breast Cancer Services).

2008-09 TEAM LEADERS:

Points - Ryan Huddy (73)*

Goals - Ryan Huddy (35)*

Assists - Ryan Huddy (38)

Plus/Minus - Daryl Marcoux (+11)

Penalty Minutes - Garet Hunt (248)*

*Denotes Thunder single-season record

FINAL 2008-09 TEAM NOTES:

o Cory Urquhart set Thunder all-time and single-season playoff records for goals (10) and points (16)

o Urquhart scored the second playoff hat trick in Thunder history in Game 1 of the Pacific Division Semifinal at Ontario

o Goaltender Parker Van Buskirk set Thunder all-time and single-season playoff records for wins (6)

o Ryan Huddy's 73 points (35g-38a) finished second in ECHL rookie scoring and is a new Thunder record, surpassing Joel Irwin's 68 points in 2005-06

o Despite missing on ECHL all-rookie team recognition, Huddy was third in the league's scoring among first year players with 73 points (35g-38a)

o Andrew Perugini won his 20th game of the season in a 5-3 win vs. Utah on Mar. 27, becoming the second goaltender in Thunder history (Devan Dubnyk, 2006-07) to reach the 20-win plateau

o Stockton was 4-2 at home in the Kelly Cup Playoffs

o The Thunder played in the first two Game 7's in team history in this year's postseason, going 1-1

o Thunder head coach Matt Thomas improved to 2-2 in Game 7 contests

o Stockton finished 14-10-2 at home in the regular season after Jan. 16

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

The best of quotables from the 2008-09 season

(courtesy of The Record)

"This is a very big moment for us. We are a proud franchise that wants to build a winning tradition, and it's important we went out and won our first series."

- Thunder head coach Matt Thomas after a 5-4 win vs. Ontario in Game 7, advancing to the second round, The Record, 4/23/09

"We played well in many areas, but (Van Buskirk) was the difference-maker," Thomas said. "What do you say about him? I thought we gave up too many shots, and I thought they outplayed us in the first period despite us having a 1-0 lead. But Van Buskirk did everything you could ask of him."

- Thomas on goaltender Parker Van Buskirk after a 5-1 win in the second round vs. Las Vegas, The Record, 5/1/09

"You have to take care of things when you have the chance, and you can't take anything for granted," Valette said. "This is how you want to get into the playoffs."

- Veteran center Craig Valette on a 3-1 win vs. Las Vegas to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth, The Record, 3/30/09

"This was important because we needed to believe in ourselves at home, and we needed the fans to believe in us," Thomas said. "We scored early, there were a couple of fights. It was a fun game to coach."

- Thomas in his home debut as Thunder head coach, a 7-2 win vs. Las Vegas, The Record, 1/17/09

"Win for the fans," Thomas said. "That's our goal. You all are going to be pleased at the end of the year."

- Thomas after being hired as new Thunder head coach, The Record, 12/30/08

"It's very emotional to look out and see a lot of people I know, other cancer survivors," said Linderman, who has enjoyed singing for years. "I'm singing for all those women and those who have passed on. I've made a lot of wonderful friends, but you also lose a lot of wonderful friends."

- Trish Linderman, a survivor of breast cancer, before singing the National Anthem at "Thunder Goes Pink III," The Record, 11/7/08

"We're big fans," Jenny Case said. "I wanted to get her in as soon as I could."

- Season ticket holder Jenny Case of Valley Springs on bringing her three-week old daughter, Jordyn, to "FAN FEST", The Record, 10/7/08

STOCKTON THUNDER REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS - 2008-09

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 four consecutive seasons and drew 223,854 fans to Stockton Arena in 2008-09. Season tickets for 2009-10 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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