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Game Preview: Stockton Thunder At Las Vegas Wranglers

April 3, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL) - Stockton Thunder News Release

April 3, 2009 - Orleans Arena

FACEOFF: 7:30 p.m.

RADIO: 1420 KSTN

INTERNET: www.StocktonThunder.com (B2 Networks)

2008-09 HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES

10/31/08 Stockton 1 at Las Vegas 5

1/16/09 Las Vegas 2 at Stockton 7

2/25/09 Las Vegas 2 at Stockton 3

3/29/09 Las Vegas 1 at Stockton 3

4/3/09 @ Las Vegas 7:30 p.m.

4/4/09 @ Las Vegas 7:30 p.m.

TONIGHT'S MATCHUP

The Thunder ends the regular season schedule with back-to-back games against the Las Vegas Wranglers on Friday and Saturday at Orleans Arena. The Thunder is 3-1-0 against the Wranglers this season. The Thunder has a lifetime record of 7-16-1 against Las Vegas. The teams last met on Mar. 29 at Stockton Arena and the Thunder defeated Las Vegas 3-1 to clinch the team's third consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berth. The last time both teams met at Orleans Arena, the Wranglers defeated the Thunder 5-1 on October 31. The Thunder enters the week tied for second place in the Pacific Division with the Bakersfield Condors and Wranglers, still mathematically alive for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

LAST THREE THUNDER GAMES

3/29/09 - LV 1 at STK 3: Veteran Craig Valette snapped a 1-1 tie with the eventual game-winning goal with 3:18 left in regulation, lifting the Stockton Thunder (32-31-7, 71 points) to a 3-1 victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers and the team's third straight Kelly Cup Playoff berth before 6,473 fans at Stockton Arena on Sunday. The Thunder, who clinched a tie for a spot with 71 points but earned the spot by virtue of a tiebreaker with Phoenix in head-to-head points, were aided by a Ryan Huddy goal in the second period and James Bates' empty-net goal late in the game. Andrew Perugini made 24 saves while Las Vegas' Dan Riedel scored in the second period.

3/28/09 - VIC 5 at STK 4 (OT): Patrick Coulombe scored his second goal of the game 44 seconds into sudden-death overtime to complete a late rally by the Victoria Salmon Kings, who defeated the Stockton Thunder (31-31-7, 69 points) 5-4 in OT before 8,668 fans at Stockton Arena on Saturday night. The Thunder was led by Ryan Huddy's eighth multi-goal game, who scored two goals but was countered with rookie Scott Howes' first hat trick as a professional. Damian Surma and Ryan Constant also scored for Stockton, who are in position to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a victory on Sunday (magic number at 2) after the Phoenix RoadRunners lost 3-1 to Alaska on Saturday.

3/27/09 - STK 5 at UTA 3: Rookie Ryan Huddy broke the Stockton Thunder (31-31-6, 68 points) single-season scoring record on an assist just 27 seconds into the first period, helping the Thunder beat the Utah Grizzlies 5-3 before 6,705 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday night. Huddy assisted on Bo Cheesman's first goal in a Thunder uniform for his 69th point of the season, toppling Joel Irwin's mark set in 2005-06. The win dropped the Thunder's "magic number" to five points to clinch its third straight Kelly Cup Playoff berth. Cheesman (1g-1a), Mike Lalonde (1g-1a) and veterans Tyler Kindle (1g-1a) and Craig Valette (two assists) each posted two points in the game. Goaltender Andrew Perugini made 25 saves to improve to 20-12-2, becoming the second goaltender in Thunder history (Devan Dubnyk, 2006-07) to surpass the 20-win plateau.

HUDDY'S BROKEN RECORD

Ryan Huddy's 35 goals is a Thunder record - currently ranking third among ECHL rookies - and broke the Thunder single-season scoring record with an assist on Mar. 20 vs. Utah. Huddy assist, notching his 69th point of the season, surpassed Joel Irwin's standard of 68 points (25g-43a) in 68 games in 2005-06.

CROWDING OUT THE ECHL

With one more week to play in the ECHL schedule the Thunder is on its way to a fourth straight attendance title 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 2007-08 season was the second straight year the Thunder surpassed the mark of 230,000 fans for one season. The Thunder's yearly attendance total finished at 239,337, an average of 6,648 fans per game. The Thunder became the first team since 2004-05 to lead the ECHL in attendance for three straight seasons (Florida led the ECHL in attendance for five straight seasons). Stockton's crowd of 9,737 on Nov. 8 against Victoria was the team's first sellout of the year.

2008-09 TEAM AWARDS

A look back at the awards presented to the players of the 2008-09 Stockton Thunder team, immediately following the Mar. 29 game against the Las Vegas Wranglers:

* MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Ryan Huddy

* ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Andrew Perugini

* OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ryan Huddy

* DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Daryl Marcoux

* UNSUNG HERO: Mark Adamek

* FAN FAVORITE (co-award): Garet Hunt and Adam Huxley

STEP UP TO THE MIKE

Mike Lalonde is the Thunder all-time leading goal scorer with 72 goals and ascended to the top perch as the Thunder all-time leading scorer with his 154th point, scoring the milestone point on a goal on Dec. 21 at Ontario. Selected as the first player in Thunder history to the ECHL All-Star Game (2006), Lalonde led the ECHL with 308 shots and paced the Thunder with 29 goals as a rookie in 2005-06. Lalonde spent last season with Tilburg of the Netherlands League, guiding his team to the Dutch Cup and scoring 92 points (43g-49a) in just 34 games.

Below is a look at Lalonde's placing on the Thunder career scoring charts:

GOALS:

1. Mike Lalonde 72

2. Ryan Huddy 35

3. Ryan MacMurchy 32

4. Nathan Martz 29

Steve Slonina 29

POINTS

1. Mike Lalonde 154

2. Nathan Martz 122

3. Ryan Huddy 73

4. Ryan MacMurchy 71

5. Joel Irwin 68

2009 Playoff March Notes -

- The Thunder has 2 regular season games remaining.

- The Thunder clinched its third straight Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a 3-1 win vs. Las Vegas on Mar. 29.

- Stockton has regular season games remaining against the following teams:

Las Vegas (2)

- THE THUNDER CAN CLINCH HOME ICE ADVANTAGE (#2 seed) IN THE FIRST ROUND IF:

* The Thunder goes 2-0-0 vs. Las Vegas AND Bakersfield loses at least one of its last two games

* The Thunder goes 1-0-1 vs. Las Vegas AND Bakersfield loses at least one (reg.) game or is 0-0-2 in its last two games

* The Thunder has one regulation win against Las Vegas AND Bakersfield goes 0-1-1 in its last two games

- The top eight teams in the National Conference will qualify for the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs and will be seeded by division ranking in the first and second round of the playoffs. In the Pacific and West Divisions, the #1 seed will play #4, and the #2 seed will play #3. Home ice advantage will be determined by winning percentage.

- If the Kelly Cup Playoffs began today, the Thunder would face the Bakersfield Condors in the Pacific Division Semifinal round.

- The Thunder has surpassed the 30-win plateau for the second time in club history (38-24-10 in 2006-07)

- The Thunder has surpassed last season's total of 59 points (27-40-5)

- TIE-BREAKER: The tiebreaker for the National Conference if two teams tie will be: 1. Points, head-to-head; 2. Wins, head-to-head; 3. Goal Differential, head-to-head; 4. Coin Toss.

The tiebreaker for the National Conference if three teams are tied will be: 1. Winning percentage, games between the teams; 2. Goal differential, games between the teams; 3. Winning percentage, division; 4. Winning percentage, conference; 5. Coin toss. When two teams remain after the third or other teams are eliminated during any step above, the tiebreaker reverts to Step 1 of the two-team format.

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