Maxime Boisclair scored a goal in his debut with the Stockton Thunder, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the team from suffering a third straight defeat.
Although Boisclair made a good first impression one day after signing with the club, the Thunder allowed a third-period lead to get away and lost 4-2 to the Utah Grizzlies before a crowd of 4,256 at Stockton Arena on Friday night (Jan. 25).
The setback marked the first time this season that Stockton (21-16-7) has failed to earn at least a point in three consecutive outings. The same teams will meet again on Saturday and Sunday at Stockton Arena.
“We’re in a funk,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said. “We’ve got too many key guys who aren’t contributing, and we’ve got to work our way out of it. We’ve got to find a way to see what kind of character we have.”
Earlier in the day, the Thunder traded defenseman Cameron Brodie and future considerations to the South Carolina Stingrays in exchange for forward Shawn Weller, a veteran of 80 ECHL games and almost 300 more in the American Hockey League. Weller, a former ECHL All-Star who has recorded 72 points (30 goals, 42 assists) in his 80 career ECHL games, currently is playing in the AHL with the St. John’s Ice Caps. He is expected to be assigned to Stockton within the next two weeks.
As for Friday’s game, Boisclair wasted little time in making his presence felt in Stockton as he scored with slightly more than four minutes left in the first period to allow the Thunder to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Colten Hayes and Harrison Reed were credited with assists on Boisclair’s goal, which was his first in the ECHL since the 2008-’09 season.
A power-play goal by Utah’s Ian Schultz made the score 1-1 barely more than six minutes into the second period, but Reed answered with a power-play goal of his own off assists from Mike Little and Gabriel Levesque in the period’s final minute to leave the Thunder with a 2-1 advantage at the second break.
Schultz again tied the game with another power-play goal not quite six and a half minutes into the third period. T.J. Battani netted the eventual game-winner for the Grizzlies (16-18-5) at 7:54 of the third period, and Mitch Wahl added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds to account for the final score.
Before Wahl scored his empty-net goal, the Thunder failed to capitalize on a four-minute power play, during which the team was unable to generate a single shot on goal.
“We were brutal,” Boisclair said of the failed power-play chance. “We kind of got sloppy. We saw the four minutes on the board and we thought we had plenty of time, and then we just got sloppy. I don’t think we even got set up.”
Earlier, the Thunder squandered an extended two-man advantage in the first period.
“I hear the fans yelling at the power play, but the power play is working,” Thomas said. “The guys are working hard, it’s just not happening for us right now. Sometimes you go through stretches like that. We’re working hard, we’re just not getting anything done.”
Utah goalie Andrew Engelage made 31 saves in earning the victory, and Thunder goalie Cody Reichard also was credited with 31 saves in defeat.
The box score from Friday’s game can be viewed here: