A lack of offensive pop and a failed penalty kill in the third period turned out to be more than the Stockton Thunder could overcome on Friday night (Feb. 8).
Those factors turned out to be the difference as the Alaska Aces handed the Thunder a 3-1 defeat before a crowd of 4,010 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
The teams were locked in a 1-1 tie until Alaska’s B.J. Crum scored his first goal of the season with slightly more than nine minutes left in the third period to give the Aces a lead they would never relinquish. Nick Mazzolini had an assist on the goal, which came while Stockton’s Mike Little was serving a tripping penalty.
Alaska’s Zach Harrison added an empty-net goal off an assist from Steve Ward with barely more than a minute remaining in the third period to account for the final score. The goal was Harrison’s 12th of the season and dashed any hopes the Thunder had of coming back after pulling goalie Cody Reichard for an extra attacker.
Stockton, which entered play Friday on a streak of six consecutive games decided by a single goal, has lost three of its past four outings heading into a rematch with the Aces on Saturday night in Alaska.
“I thought we played really hard, but we’ve got to score goals and our penalty kill has to get the job done,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said by telephone after the game. “You’re not going to win on the road if you only score one goal and give up a power-play goal in the third period. We’ve got to start finding ways to win hockey games instead of finding ways to lose them.”
The game was scoreless until Alaska (33-11-5) finally took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Chris Clackson with not quite three and a half minutes remaining in the second period. Jordan Kremyr had the lone assist on Clackson’s goal, which was his 12th of the season.
Maxime Boisclair allowed the Thunder (24-19-8) to enter the second intermission in a 1-1 tie by scoring his fourth goal of the season just 40.6 seconds before the break. Gabriel Levesque and Tony DeHart were credited with assists on the goal by Boisclair, who has recorded eight points in eight games since being signed by Stockton on Jan. 24.
The Aces finished with a 29-25 advantage in shots, and Alaska goalie Gerald Coleman made 24 saves to post the victory. Coleman out-dueled Reichard, who was credited with 26 saves.
After battling the Aces in Alaska again on Saturday and Sunday, the Thunder will return home to meet the Ontario Reign on Feb. 15 at Stockton Arena.
The box score from Friday’s game can be viewed here: