(photo: Dinur Blum)
Have they kicked the habit? Have the Stockton Thunder finally found a breath of confidence after losing eight out of their last nine contests? After an extended losing streak, the Thunder got the upper hand on the Bakersfield Condors with a 3-2 win on a 10:30AM game start time. Forwards Peter Sivak (1 g) and Tyler Shattock (2g) got the team on the board and stellar goaltending by Shane Owen shut the door on the Condors making 29 saves on 31 shots faced.
The start of the season has not been an easy road for the Stockton Thunder. Giving up early goals, an offense that has struggled to get the puck in the net and a defense that can’t contain their opponents have made it a rough ride early on. Thunder netminder Shane Owen has been a force in net and has given his team a chance to win, often without much support. He now leads the league in saves (310) and has the most wins for the team with four. As the final minutes of the game ticked down, the Thunder faced tremendous pressure from the Condors’ offense and Owen was forced to make several saves to end the game in regulation and seal the five game road trip with a win.
“You just have to stand tall,” said Owen on the final scramble in front of his net. “It was a hard fought game by the boys. The defense battled and kept pucks away from me and gave me lanes to see. I got a couple saves at the end there and we got the two points.”
The win gives the Thunder a shot in the arm before returning back home for a seven game homestand where they will face the Condors two more times over the weekend. The game highlighted some strengths Stockton can build upon on home ice. An early goal by Sivak gave the team momentum to keep the pressure on Condors goaltender Frans Tuohimaa.
“I thought the guys came out with high excitement and energy,” said Assistant Coach and Captain Garet Hunt about the strong start. “You can’t think about the past games, you have to think about the game ahead of you and take it five minutes at a time. We scored in the first shift and I thought we fed off of that. We had a few lapses we have to work on, I mean, we’re not going to be perfect, but we got the win and the boys played well.”
Special teams are also driving momentum in the game and the Thunder are second in the league in short-handed tallies with three. Tyler Shattock netted a shorty off a feed from James Henry and JT Barnett in the first period of play.
“ It was a great play by Shattock and Henry to go back and forth,” said Coach Hunt on the short-handed goal. “I think that was another great momentum changer, short-handed goals, power-play goals, special teams is huge. That helped continue our momentum early on.”
The Thunder will meet Bakersfield over the weekend and yet again for a pre-Thanksgiving tilt. The two teams will share no holiday cheer for one another after the four game series. Stockton will then host the Utah Grizzlies for one night. Finally, after being swept in Anchorage, the Thunder will seek some redemption in their home barn, when they take on the Alaska Aces for a 3-in-3 weekend series at the beginning of December.