Wasted power plays and a couple of bad bounces ended up burying the Stockton Thunder on Wednesday night (Feb. 20).
The Thunder failed to score on six power-play opportunities and yielded two goals on shots that deflected off Stockton defenders as the team was beaten 4-1 by the Ontario Reign before a crowd of 5,591 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA.
The result snapped a three-game winning streak for the Thunder (27-21-9) and marked Ontario’s first victory in five games. It also dropped the second-place Thunder 14 points behind the first-place Reign (36-13-5) in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Despite coming up empty on the six power-play chances in the first two periods, the Thunder trailed only 1-0 at the second intermission before giving up three third-period goals, the last two of which deflected in off Thunder defensemen.
“They got some bounces and we didn’t,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said by telephone after the game. “That was the difference.”
Neither team managed a goal in a scoreless first period, during which Stockton held an 8-7 edge in shots.
Ontario outshot the Thunder 11-7 in the second period, and the Reign struck for the game’s first goal when C.J. Stretch scored on a rebound with slightly less than five minutes remaining before the second break. D.J. King was credited with an assist on Stretch’s goal, which was his 27th of the season and allowed the Reign to take a 1-0 lead into the third period.
Ontario’s lead grew to 2-0 when Mario Lamoureux scored his 20th goal of the season off assists from Brock Sheahan and Chris Cloud not quite a minute and a half into the third period. Stockton climbed back into the game when Matt Bergland netted his eighth goal of the season off assists from Brandon Davidson and Tony DeHart with 14:55 remaining in regulation time, but the Reign responded just 16 seconds later by opening the gap to 3-1 on Brady Calla’s seventh goal of the season.
The Reign extended the lead to 4-1 when Dan DaSilva tallied his 15th goal of the season off assists from Kyle Kraemer and Derek Couture with slightly less than 12 minutes to play.
The final shot-count showed Ontario with a 28-22 advantage. Reign goalie Dustin Carlson made 21 saves in earning the victory, and Thunder goalie Tyler Bunz was credited with 24 saves.
“I thought both goalies were phenomenal,” Thomas said. “We had plenty of opportunities on the power play in the first 40 minutes and we got some quality chances, but Carlson snuffed them all out.”
The Thunder will continue a four-game road trip by visiting the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday before returning to Ontario for another game against the Reign on Friday. The Thunder and Reign will tangle again on Sunday at Stockton Arena.
The box score from Wednesday’s game can be viewed here: