The Stockton Thunder couldn’t beat an emergency-backup goaltender with virtually no professional experience on Saturday night (Mar. 16).
Not even once.
Playing in only his second game as a pro, goalie Troy Redmann turned aside all 27 shots he faced as the Ontario Reign claimed a 1-0 victory over the Thunder before a crowd of 8,155 at Stockton Arena.
Aside from one prior appearance with the Reign this season, Redmann had been off the radar since playing junior hockey for the Ohio Blue Jackets of the United States Hockey League during the 2006-’07 season.
“You tip your hat to Troy Redmann,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said. “He played well, but we didn’t make him work. I’m not real happy with us right now. It’s disappointing. We’re as below-average as you can be.”
Kyle Kraemer’s 29th goal of the season turned out to be the only one Redmann would need to register his first ECHL victory. The goal came barely more than nine minutes after the opening faceoff, and Cameron Burt and Kevin Estrada were credited with assists.
The loss marked the third consecutive game in which Thomas has been displeased with his team’s level of execution.
“I’ve got to make changes,” Thomas said. “It’s what the guys are begging me to do. You’re just looking for somebody to step up. At some point, you’ve got to pay the price to score goals. We’re so easy to defend right now, it’s not even funny. You can talk until you’re blue in the face but, at some point, guys just have to step up. We can’t feel sorry ourselves. You’ve got to work through it. That’s what you have to do. I’m confident that we will, but it’s not a good time of year to have a really bad week.”
Regarding changes, Thomas said forward Andrew Clark has agreed to contract terms with the Thunder and is expected to be in the team’s lineup when the Bakersfield Condors visit Stockton Arena on Sunday. Clark recently completed his collegiate career at Acadia University in Canada, where he averaged better than a point per game in each of his four seasons. He also had a 40-goal season while playing major-junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League before attending Acadia.
“I’m hoping he’s Wayne Gretzky,” Thomas cracked. “Hopefully, he can score. He certainly has a history of it.”
The Thunder (33-26-9) certainly could have used a goal-scorer against Redmann, who handed Stockton its first blanking on home ice since Dec. 2, 2011.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Thunder captain Garet Hunt said. “It’s just the way it goes. He (Redmann) got an opportunity to play and he came in and played well. I thought we played hard, but we’ve got to find a way to score.”
Redmann outdueled Thunder goalie Olivier Roy, who made 25 saves and took the narrow loss in stride.
“A loss is a loss,” Roy said. “Some nights we shut down the other team, and it’s going to happen that some nights we get shut down. You can’t think about that as a goalie. You just try to do your job and go at it again tomorrow.”
Despite the defeat, the Thunder maintained a five-point lead over the Colorado Eagles and a six-point cushion over the Las Vegas Wranglers in the race for the No. 4 position in the ECHL’s Western Conference. The top four teams in the conference at the end of the regular season will enjoy home-ice advantage in the upcoming Kelly Cup playoffs. Ontario (43-16-7) sits in second place in the conference and has clinched a first-place finish in the Pacific Division.
The box score from Saturday’s game can be viewed here: