Thunder Go for Playoff Sweep at Ontario
The #7 Stockton Thunder look to finish off a sweep of the #2 Ontario Reign in their Western Conference quarterfinals series, as the teams face-off tonight in Ontario at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. PST.
Thunder fans can check out the game at the team's "Home Away From Home" the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, where they can watch the game while enjoying Thunder food and drink specials. The broadcast begins tonight at 6:45 p.m. with the Black Oak Casino Resort Pre-Game Show. Fans can watch live, online streaming video through AmericaONE Sports, or listen to free live audio through Spreaker.com, iHeartRadio and StocktonThunder.com.
The Thunder have 3-0 series lead courtesy of wins at home in games one and two, and a 5-2 victory in game three on Tuesday night. Ontario tied the game at 2-2 with 6:04 to play in the third period, courtesy of their captain Derek Couture's first goal of the playoffs.
However, Thunder captain Garet Hunt struck back just 2:01 later with his first goal of the postseason, which proved to be the eventual game-winner. Joey Martin added two more goals late on to finish off a hat trick and give the Thunder the victory behind three goals in the final 4:03 of the game. Including the regular season, the Thunder now have a record of 6-2-0-2 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in 2013-14.
It was the second straight game for the Thunder with a hat trick after no player scored three goals in a game for Stockton in 72 regular season games. Jeremy Langlois had a hat trick in game two of the series, helping the Thunder to a 5-3 win. The Thunder's top line of Langlois, Martin and Andrew Clark has now combined for 22 points in the three playoff games so far, averaging more than 7 points between the three of them per contest. Langlois leads all ECHL players with 9 points in the postseason, with Martin behind him both on the team and in the league with 8 points.
Goaltender Brian Foster remained perfect in the playoffs so far, stopping a postseason-high 41 shots in the game, and making 33 saves through two periods. Foster now has a .933 save percentage in this year's playoffs and boasts an all-time playoff record of 4-1-2.
This is the first time in their history the Thunder have opened up a 3-0 lead over an opponent in a playoff series that is longer than a best-of-five. The Thunder had a sweep of the Colorado Eagles in the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals winning three straight games to take the series by a combined score of 10-5. They could become the first team to advance past the first round in the playoffs this season. The Thunder are 7-3 all-time in potential series-winning games.
The Thunder have made very few changes to their line-up thus far in the postseason. The only change from the first two games was defenseman Landon Oslanski playing in place of Andrey Pedan, who is battling an upper-body injury. By contrast, Ontario has used all 22 players currently on their playoff roster in at least one postseason game. Olivier Malka and Yasin Cisse made their debuts in game three in place of defenseman Dennis Brown and the suspended Jeremy Yablonski.
No player for the Reign has scored more than two goals, and only Couture, Matt Register and Cody Sol have more than 1 point, with 2 points each. In net, J.P. Anderson and Jussi Olkinuora have split starts with Anderson getting the nod in games one and three and Olkinuora allowing five goals in game two.
If the Thunder were to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals, they would face either #3 Utah or #6 Bakersfield. Should Ontario win tonight, the Thunder and Reign would face-off in game five at Stockton Arena on Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. PST. Special playoff ticket packages are available through the Stockton Thunder front office by calling 209-373-1500. Fans can get tickets to all of the Thunder's 2014 Kelly Cup Playoff games with the purchase of a new season ticket. For more information, visit StocktonThunder.com.
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ECHL Stories from April 23, 2014
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