Apparently, Stockton Thunder goalie Cody Reichard doesn’t need much rest to be at the top of his game.
Making his third start in three days, Reichard turned in a 39-save performance to lead the Thunder to a 2-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies in front of 4,033 spectators at Stockton Arena on Sunday (Jan. 27).
Ironically, Reichard did it on a day when Thunder Coach Matt Thomas originally had planned to give him a rest. Thomas said he was considering playing Jody O’Neill in the finale of a weekend series against the Grizzlies, but decided against it after receiving a text from Reichard, who made it clear he wanted the start.
“When a goalie does that type of stuff, you listen,” Thomas said. ”It means they’re a little bit possessed and a little bit in the zone and playing a little bit angry. He just basically told me he was playing. I like when guys do that. When guys get in the zone and they’re so driven, you’ve got to lean on them. I like that Reichs did that. It shows me a lot.”
Reichard said he just wanted another chance to beat Utah in the series finale after falling to the Grizzlies in regulation time on Friday and in overtime on Saturday.
“I felt like I owed it to the guys,” said Reichard, who improved his record to 11-7-5 while helping the Thunder (22-16-8) snap a four-game winless streak. “I just was feeling it today.”
Utah goalie Andrew Engelage, who finished with 30 saves, matched Reichard in the first period, during which neither team scored. The Grizzlies (17-19-5) took a 1-0 lead about four and a half minutes into the second period, when Jimmy Martin scored a power-play goal after Stockton’s Kevin Noble was hit with a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for elbowing. Ian Schultz and Mitch Wahl had assists on Martin’s goal, which was his fifth of the season.
The Grizzlies nursed the lead until Yannick Riendeau netted his 14th goal of the season off assists from Ryan Constant and Harrison Reed with just 36 seconds remaining in the second period to create a 1-1 tie at the second intermission.
Reed delivered the game-winning goal on a power play at 10:16 of the third period, when he scored while Stockton was skating with a two-man advantage. Constant and Justin Maylan had assists on Reed’s goal, which was his 18th of the season.
“I was able to find a lane and pick the top corner,” Reed said of his game-winning shot. “It was exciting.”
Reed also said he was glad to get Reichard the victory.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Reed said. “He played great for us all weekend. He’s been working really hard. Tonight, it paid off for him."
Reichard, as he has done in the past, credited his teammates for much of his success.
"I can't say enough good stuff about the guys and how many shots they blocked and just the way they cleared out rebounds in front of me," he said. "They played hard all night."
Constant’s assist on the first Stockton goal marked the 100th of his professional career, and his play drew praise from Thomas.
“I thought this was his best weekend in hockey on both sides of the puck,” Thomas said. “He was competing hard, he was making plays and I really liked him defensively. I liked the simplicity in his game. It was nice for him to reach that milestone, but more important for him to be a factor in our offense.”
Thomas also praised the rest of his team’s defense corps, which was reduced to five after Noble was ejected. Aside from Constant and Noble, the group included Mike Little, Tony DeHart, Colten Hayes and Shawn Boutin.
“Those guys battled,” Thomas said. “They played real hard. They really competed and got the job done. It was just good (to have) guys stepping up and getting the job done. That’s what we needed to do. It was a war. We needed to make it a war, and guys stepped up to the challenge.”
The game also marked a milestone for Thunder captain Garet Hunt, who made his 300th appearance as a pro.
The Thunder will play next on Wednesday (Jan. 30), when the San Francisco Bulls visit Stockton Arena.
The box score from Sunday’s game can be viewed here: