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Game Preview (game 1): Stockton Thunder At Ontario Reign

April 10, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL) - Stockton Thunder News Release

GAME 1 - PACIFIC DIVISION SEMIFINAL

April 10, 2009 - Citizens Business Bank Arena

FACEOFF: 7:00 p.m.

RADIO: 1420 KSTN

INTERNET: www.StocktonThunder.com (B2 Networks)

2008-09 HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES (4-5-1)

11/12/08 Stockton 2 at Ontario 3 (SO)

11/15/08 Stockton 3 at Ontario 2 (OT)

11/26/08 Ontario 4 at Stockton 2

12/5/08 Stockton 3 at Ontario 2

12/6/08 Ontario 4 at Stockton 0

12/21/08 Stockton 2 at Ontario 6

2/6/09 Stockton 5 at Ontario 1

2/15/09 Ontario 3 at Stockton 2

3/8/09 Ontario 2 at Stockton 1

3/18/09 Stockton 3 at Ontario 0

TONIGHT'S MATCHUP

The fourth-seeded Thunder will open the Pacific Division Semifinals against the first-seeded Ontario Reign, a best-of-seven series that follows a "2-3-2" format. The matchup features two players with NHL playing experience (Sebastien Bisaillon, Edmonton Oilers and Damian Surma, Carolina Hurricanes) and three players drafted within the first three rounds of the NHL Entry Draft (Colten Teubert, 1st round, Bud Holloway and Jeff Zatkoff, 3rd round - Los Angeles Kings). It marks the Thunder's third straight playoff appearance and third in four seasons since joining the ECHL. The Reign are making their first ever playoff appearance after capturing the Pacific Division title. The Thunder finished 4-5-1 against the Reign this season and was 4-1-1 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

THUNDER PLAYOFF NOTES

It is the first time the Thunder will meet the Ontario Reign in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Last season, the Thunder lost to the eventual National Conference champion Las Vegas Wranglers, 4-2 in the National Conference Quarterfinal round. The Thunder won game 1, 4-2 on four goals in the third period and set club playoff records in a 6-3 win in game 5 at Stockton Arena, for most goals in a game (6) and most goals in one period (tied, 4). In 2006-07, Stockton was defeated by the Idaho Steelheads, 4-2 in the National Conference Quarterfinal en route to Idaho's second Kelly Cup Championship in four years. Two players remain with the Thunder, who have appeared in the club's entire 12 lifetime Kelly Cup Playoff games (defenseman Mark Adamek, assistant coach and former defenseman Tim O'Connell).

BREAKDOWN: THUNDER ALL-TIME RECORD BY GAMES

GAME ONE

DATE ROUND OPP. LOCATION SCORE OT GOALIES (STK/opp) GWG

Apr. 10, 2007 NQF Idaho Qwest Arena W, 4-2 - Dubnyk/Silverthorn Tim Sestito

Apr. 11, 2008 NQF Las Vegas Orleans Arena W, 4-2 - Boron/Lalande Jonas Almtorp

All-time game one record: 2-0

SEASON SERIES RECAP

The Thunder was 4-5-1 this season against Ontario, taking nine of 10 points at Citizens Business Bank Arena. In the first meeting between both clubs on Nov. 12 in Ontario, Dusty Collins forced overtime and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff stopped all but one shot in a shootout to lead the Reign to a 3-2 shootout win. The Thunder retaliated in its next meeting on Nov. 15, when Cleve Kinley buried a rocket from the right wing to lead the Thunder to a 3-2 overtime win. John Murray posted the first shutout in Ontario history (26 saves, 4-0 Ontario win) on Dec. 6 at Stockton. In the final meeting between both teams on Mar. 18 at Ontario, Stockton's Andrew Perugini outdueled Zatkoff for his second shutout of the year (34 saves) in a 3-0 win.

SECOND-HALF SWING

The Thunder began its climb back into the Kelly Cup Playoff race on Dec. 31, two days after the hiring of head coach Matt Thomas. Since then, the Thunder finished six games over the .500 mark and a multiple number of players achieved accomplishments in helping guide the Thunder to its third straight Kelly Cup Playoff berth:

Ryan Huddy, 35 goals (Thunder single-season record)

Ryan Huddy, 73 points (Thunder single-season record)

Andrew Perugini, 21 wins (second Thunder goaltender to surpass 20-win plateau, joining Devan Dubnyk)

Thunder score eight goals (11/1 at Bakersfield and 1/6 at Phoenix), breaking single-game record

Four selected from Stockton to ECHL All-Star Game (Head Coach Matt Thomas, defenseman Kenny MacAulay, center Cory Urquhart and center Ryan Huddy).

Back-to-back In Glas Co ECHL Player of the Week honors (Mike Lalonde and Cory Urquhart, Jan. 5-18).

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

The Thunder has two players (captain and defenseman Matt O'Dette and center Cory Urquhart) with pro championship experience - O'Dette helped guide the Saint John Flames to a Calder Cup championship in 2001 and Urquhart helped guide the Arizona Sundogs to a CHL President's Cup championship last year. Additionally, veteran center Damian Surma and assistant coach Tim O'Connell (defenseman at the time who amassed 65 games of Kelly Cup Playoff experience) helped the Florida Everblades reach back-to-back appearances in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004-05. In 2004, Surma scored a double-overtime game-winning goal to eliminate Roanoke in the first round and scored an overtime winner in game 6 the 2005 American Conference Finals to help Florida eliminate Charlotte.

A part of the 2003 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies team that won the Kelly Cup championship, Thunder head coach Matt Thomas was an assistant coach for Atlantic City. Thunder assistant coach Ryan Mougenel scored 9 points (1g-8a) in 17 Kelly Cup Playoff games for Atlantic City during the 2003 postseason.

Below is a list of the top-5 Thunder players who have the most pro playoff experience in games:

PLAYER - GAMES

MATT O'DETTE - 64

DAMIAN SURMA - 52

CORY URQUHART - 48

TYLER KINDLE - 28

MARK ADAMEK - 12

CROWDING OUT THE ECHL

For the fourth straight season, the Thunder led the ECHL in attendance with an average of 6,218 fans through 36 home games. Stockton has 13 sellouts in the team's franchise history and finished last year as the ECHL's attendance leader for the third consecutive season. The Thunder became the first team since 2004-05 to lead the ECHL in attendance for four straight seasons (Florida led the ECHL in attendance for five straight seasons - 2000-05).

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