After watching teammate Olivier Roy produce back-to-back standout performances, Stockton Thunder goalie Tyler Bunz delivered a sterling effort of his own on Sunday (Feb. 17) to help the team cap a perfect weekend.
Bunz stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced as the Thunder squeaked out a 3-1 decision over the San Francisco Bulls in front of 4,123 spectators at the Cow Palace in Daly City.
“We have to give credit to the guy who made the difference, and that was the guy between the pipes,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said by telephone after the game. “He did a great job.”
The victory was the third in as many days for Stockton, which allowed only two goals in the three games thanks to a tight defense and the stellar play of Roy and Bunz. Roy kicked off the run by beating the Ontario Reign 2-1 in overtime on Friday and then blanked the Bulls 4-0 on Saturday in consecutive starts at Stockton Arena.
“I have to give a tip of the hat to our goaltending all weekend long,” Thomas said. “It was a good weekend for us.”
After the teams went into the first intermission locked in a scoreless tie, the Thunder (27-20-9) grabbed a 1-0 lead when Eric Hunter scored his 17th goal of the season off assists from Shawn Weller and Ryan Constant not quite eight and a half minutes into the second period. Brandon Davidson then netted his third goal of the weekend with slightly less than two minutes left in the period to allow the Thunder to take a 2-0 advantage into the second break. Matt Reber was credited with an assist on Davidson’s goal, which came while Stockton was skating on a 4-on-3 power play.
The Bulls (19-27-7) cut their deficit to 2-1 when Jordan Morrison scored his 15th goal of the season off assists from Rob Kwiet and Mikael Tam almost halfway through the third period. The Bulls had a golden opportunity to pull even on a power play when Stockton’s Matt Bergland took a delay of game penalty just 22 seconds after Morrison’s goal, but the Thunder killed the penalty without yielding a single shot.
“That penalty kill was important,” Thomas said. “We really needed to step up, and it was nice to see guys get the job done.”
Constant put the game out of San Francisco’s reach by scoring an empty-net goal with 32.2 seconds to play. Garet Hunt, who was making his 300th career appearance with the Thunder, had an assist on Constant’s goal, which was his seventh of the season.
Stockton finished with a 29-27 edge in shots, and Bulls goalie Thomas Heemskerk matched Bunz by making 26 saves.
The victory was Stockton’s first in five visits to the Cow Palace this season. It also was the first since Jan. 5 for Bunz, who improved his record to 12-12-4.
Before the game, the Thunder announced that goalie Cody Reichard has been loaned to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. In 27 games with the Thunder, Reichard has posted a record of 13-8-5 with a shutout, a goals-against average of 2.64 and a save percentage of .911.
The Thunder will resume a four-game road trip on Wednesday by visiting Ontario.
The box score from Sunday’s game can be viewed here: