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Thunder In Playoffs, Pursues Home Ice

March 30, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL) - Stockton Thunder News Release

THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: (all times PT)

at LAS VEGAS WRANGLERS (Friday and Saturday - 7:30 p.m.) - 1420 KSTN, B2 Networks

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.

1420 KSTN is the Thunder's flagship radio station and all Thunder games can be heard live on the Internet (free-of-charge) and are available for viewing at a $7 "pay-per-view" charge at www.stocktonthunder.com, courtesy of B2 Networks. Radio broadcaster Mike Benton provides play-by-play commentary, with the "Thunder Forecast" pre-game show starting 15 minutes before each broadcast.

ABOUT THE KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS - STARTING APRIL 9

The Thunder became the second team in the Pacific Division (joining the Ontario Reign) to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth after beating Las Vegas 3-1 on Mar. 29. The 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs begin with the Division Semifinals, which will be played Apr. 9-22 with the first seed meeting the fourth seed and the second seed meeting the third seed in a best-of-seven series.

The series format is 2-3-2 with game dates determined by the participants based upon arena availability. Teams in close proximity may agree to deviate from the standard series format subject to league guidelines.

In the Pacific Division there will be four postseason qualifiers based on winning percentage, including the fifth-place finisher from the West Division if it has a better winning percentage than the fourth-place team in the Pacific. The seeding is being done by winning percentage rather than points because Las Vegas and Ontario are each playing one more game than the other seven teams following Fresno ceasing operations.

If the playoffs started today, the Thunder would take the third seed, facing the Bakersfield Condors (second seed) in a best-of-seven series. The Thunder is seeking to capture home-ice advantage for the first time in club history.

THUNDER CLOSE IN ON ANOTHER ATTENDANCE TITLE

Vying to lead the league in attendance for the fourth straight year with one week to play in the regular season, The Thunder leads the ECHL in attendance with an average of 6,218 through 36 home games, 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 three straight seasons (Florida led the ECHL in attendance for five straight seasons).

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

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

TEAM LEADERS:

Points - Ryan Huddy (73)*

Goals - Ryan Huddy (35)*

Assists - Ryan Huddy (38)

Plus/Minus - Daryl Marcoux (+10)

Penalty Minutes - Garet Hunt (243)

*Denotes Thunder single-season record

UPCOMING MILESTONES:

o Matt O'Dette is 8 points away from 100 in his ECHL career

o Damian Surma is 3 points away from 100 in his ECHL career

o Garet Hunt is 4 penalty minutes away from breaking the Thunder record for most PIM in one season (Adam Huxley, 246 PIM in 2006-07)

TEAM NOTES:

- Huddy is second in ECHL rookie scoring with 73 points (35g-38a)

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

- Stockton its third consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over Las Vegas on Sunday

- Stockton leads the ECHL in attendance with an average of 6,218 fans

- Stockton has the second-best win percentage (.544) on the road in the National Conference with a 16-13-5 record

The team's upcoming schedule for the coming week is as follows:

(subject to change, all times PT)

TUE., MARCH 31:

10:00 a.m. - Practice at Stockton Arena

WED., APRIL 1:

10:00 a.m. - Practice at Stockton Arena

Travel to Las Vegas afterward

THURS. APRIL 2:

12:30 p.m.- Practice at Las Vegas Ice Center

FRI., APRIL 3:

11:15 a.m. - Morning skate at Orleans Arena (Las Vegas)

7:30 p.m. - GAME at LAS VEGAS (Orleans Arena)

1420 KSTN/StocktonThunder.com

SAT., APRIL 4:

11:15 a.m. - Morning skate at Orleans Arena (Las Vegas)

7:30 p.m. - GAME at LAS VEGAS (Orleans Arena)

1420 KSTN/StocktonThunder.com

Travel to Stockton immediately afterward

SUN., APRIL 5:

Day off

MON., APRIL 6:

TBA

WEEK IN REVIEW

3/29/09 - STK 3 vs LV 1: 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. The Thunder surpassed the 223,000 mark in total attendance and is vying to lead the ECHL in attendance for the fourth straight season, finishing the 2008-09 home record at 16-18-2.

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 vs 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.

3/24/09 - VIC 5 at STK 2: Daryl Lloyd snapped a 2-2 tie with 5:39 left in regulation for an eventual game-winning goal, igniting a three-goal rally by the Victoria Salmon Kings, who escaped with a 5-2 win over the Stockton Thunder (30-31-6, 66 points) before 3,819 fans at Stockton Arena on Tuesday. Despite the loss and outshooting the Salmon Kings 47-22, the Thunder saw its magic number whittled down to seven points to clinch its third consecutive Kelly Cup Playoff berth after the Phoenix RoadRunners (5th place, West Division) lost 4-2 at Utah just an hour before the game's conclusion in Stockton. Veterans Tyler Kindle and Craig Valette scored a goal each for Stockton, while Todd Ford made 45 saves for Victoria, including 16 in the third period to seal the win.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

(courtesy of The Record)

"Craig Valette made a great play all around, and it was a very unselfish play by Mike Lalonde," Thunder coach Matt Thomas said. "Those are the types of plays you have to make this time of year."

- Thomas on two Thunder goals in a 3-1 win vs. Las Vegas to clinch a playoff berth, The Record, 3/30/09

"It was my man that went in on the breakaway, and that was my bad, but I was able to get the block and we had to win," Valette said. "I tried to sell that I was going to pass. Quick shot, it goes in - game-winner."

- Veteran Craig Valette on his game-winning goal in a 3-1 win vs. Las Vegas, The Record, 3/30/09

STOCKTON THUNDER STATISTICS (as of Mar. 30, 2009)

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 three consecutive seasons and drew 239,337 fans to Stockton Arena in 2007-08. Season Ticket packages are on sale now for the 2009-10 season. 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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