Game Preview (Game 3): Stockton Thunder Vs. Alaska Aces
The sixth-seeded Thunder continues the National Conference Quarterfinals against the third-seeded Alaska Aces, a best-of-five series that follows a "2-3" format with the remainder of the series scheduled at Stockton Arena. The matchup, features four players with NHL playing experience (Colin Hemingway, St. Louis Blues, Bryan Young, Edmonton Oilers, Eric Boguniecki, St. Louis, Florida, Pittsburgh, NY Islanders and Jason Ryznar, New Jersey Devils). It marks the Thunder's fourth straight playoff appearance and four in five seasons since joining the ECHL. The Aces are making their seventh straight playoff appearance and are the defending National Conference champions. The series is tied, 1-1, and the Thunder defeated the Aces, 5-2 in Game 2 in Wasilla, Alaska.
GAME 2: STK 5 - AK 2 (4/6/10): A four goal effort in the third period, stamping a string of three unanswered goals, helped the Stockton Thunder sink the host the Alaska Aces in a 5-2 victory in Game 2 of the National Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs at the Menard Memorial Sports Center on Tuesday. The Thunder, who tied the best-of-five series, 1-1, return home to Stockton Arena for Game 3 on Friday. Forwards Kelly Czuy (1g-1a), Oren Eizenman (two assists), defensemen Anthony Aiello (1g-1a) and Jordan Bendfeld (two assists) all led the offense with two points apiece while goaltender Andrew Perugini made 28 saves. The Thunder, who handed Alaska their fourth Game 2 loss in franchise history, improved to 2-3 in Game 2 situations.
GAME 1: AK 4 - STK 3 (4/5/10): Defenseman B.J. Crum scored back-to-back goals, including the game-winner with 2:51 left in regulation to snap a 3-3 tie and help the Alaska Aces rally in a third period comeback, defeating the Stockton Thunder, 4-3 in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Playoffs National Conference Quarterfinal round at the Menard Memorial Sports Center on Monday. Alaska, who took a 1-0 series lead, were led by Crum's two goals in the game, who mounted half of his three-year career total (4) in just a five-minute span. Kelly Czuy led the Thunder with a goal and assist, while Chris D'Alvise and J.F. Caudron also scored for Stockton.
GOING FOR THE GOLD
The Stockton Thunder are asking all fans in attendance for Thunder home Kelly Cup Playoff games at Stockton Arena to "go gold" beginning with the first rounds series against Alaska and sport clothing identical to the gold color in the Thunder uniform scheme. The Thunder, who ranked third in ECHL attendance this season and drew over 6,000 fans per game for the fifth consecutive season, will roll out exclusive, hard-to-find playoff merchandise for affordable prices. A special playoff "Fan Pack" for $5 includes one gold playoff "rally towel," a set of gold "ThunderStix" and a bandana.
THUNDER PLAYOFF NOTES
It is the first time the Thunder are meeting the Alaska Aces in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Last season, the Thunder played hockey into the month of May for the first time in team history, losing in seven games to the Las Vegas Wranglers, in the Pacific Division Final (second round). The Thunder achieved its first playoff series win in club history by defeating the Ontario Reign, 4-3, which included five one-goal games. In 2007-08, the Thunder was defeated by Las Vegas, 4-2 in six games of the National Conference Quarterfinal and was defeated, 4-2 to the eventual Kelly Cup Champion Idaho Steelheads in the quarterfinal round in 2006-07. Six players remain from last year's Thunder playoff team.
BREAKDOWN: THUNDER ALL-TIME RECORD BY GAMES
DATE ROUND OPP. LOCATION SCORE OT GOALIES (STK/opp) GWG
Apr. 13, 2007 NQF Idaho Stockton Arena L, 1-2 (2OT) 8:06 Dubnyk/Silverthorn Derek Nesbitt
Apr. 13, 2008 NQF Las Vegas Stockton Arena L, 2-3 - Boron/Lalande Aki Seitsonen
Apr. 15, 2009 PSF Ontario Stockton Arena L, 1-5 - Pitton/Zatkoff Bud Holloway
Apr. 30, 2009 PF Las Vegas Stockton Arena W, 5-1 - Van Buskirk/DeCaro Craig Valette
All-time game three record: 1-3
SEASON SERIES RECAP
The Thunder was 5-1-4 this season against Alaska, going undefeated in regulation in four of five games at Sullivan Arena. Alaska won the first two games of the series at Stockton Arena in the extra stages, but the Thunder responded by becoming only the second team in ECHL history (joining Las Vegas, 2006-07) to sweep the Aces at Sullivan Arena in a three-game series (Dec. 11-13). Stockton took five of six points in the next three games at home, Jan. 22-23 and Jan. 31, including a Jan. 22 contest that featured the locker room swap of Colin Hemingway to the Thunder and Judd Blackwater to Alaska, both exchanged in a trade one day earlier. Both playoff-bound teams met again at Sullivan Arena on Apr. 2-3, a two-game series swept by Alaska. James Bates led the Thunder with 11 points (2g-9a) in nine games in the series.
SECOND HALF SWING
After beginning the season 5-11-3 and 1-6-3 on their own home ice, the Thunder roared back after the start of December to finish with a swing of 28-19-7 overall and 16-6-4 at Stockton Arena, at one point moving to a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with Bakersfield in the final week of the regular season. A multiple number of milestones were reached or neared in helping the Thunder secure its fourth straight Kelly Cup Playoff berth:
James Bates, 73 points (tied Thunder single-season record - Ryan Huddy, 08-09)Chris D'Alvise, 34 goals (one shy of tying Thunder single-season record)Andrew Perugini, 22 wins (career-high, two win shy of tying single-season record)Wins, 33 (second highest in Thunder history)Wins - road, 16 (one shy of tying Thunder single-season record)
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
The Thunder has one player (captain J.F. Caudron) and head coach Matt Thomas with pro championship experience - Caudron helped guide the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies to a Kelly Cup championship title in 2003, the same team that had Thomas as assistant coach. Additionally, veteran right wing Colin Hemingway (Alaska, 2008-09), right wing Brett Hemingway (Alaska, 2008-09) and right wing Kelly Czuy (Las Vegas, 2007-08) have helped guide their former respective teams to appearances in the Kelly Cup Finals.
Below is a list of the top-5 Thunder players who have the most pro playoff experience in games:
PLAYER - GAMES
KELLY CZUY - 46
J.F. CAUDRON - 33
MATT ROBINSON - 25
COLIN HEMINGWAY - 23
DARYL MARCOUX - 22
ALL TIME PLAYOFF SCORING (Thunder active players)
# Player GP G A PTS
12 J.F. Caudron 33 20 16 36
34 Kelly Czuy 46 14 20 34
20 Colin Hemingway 23 9 16 25
28 James Bates 16 6 8 14
11 Igor Gongalsky 13 1 8 9
THUNDER CROWDS ROLL IN
The Thunder completed the regular season third in the ECHL in attendance with an average of 6,031 fans per game, marking the fifth straight season that an average of 6,000 fans have crossed the Stockton Arena turnstiles. On Jan. 30, the Thunder drew 9,158 fans to Stockton Arena against Victoria, the second largest home crowd this year. The Thunder led the ECHL in attendance last year with an average of 6,218 fans through 36 home games. Stockton has 14 sellouts in the team's franchise history and drew a standing room only crowd of 9,392 on Nov. 8 vs. Alaska. Last year, 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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