|The Thunder score one of seven goals enroute to a series-tying victory over the Steelheads Friday, May 8, 2010. (Photo by George Steckler) |
- Bryan Pitton made 29 saves while defenseman Steve Vanoosten led seven players who had multi point games with three assists, as the Stockton Thunder routed the Idaho Steelheads in a 7-2 victory in Game 4 of the National Conference Final of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 5,219 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday night.
The Thunder, who have rallied so far from a 2-0 series deficit to square the best-of-seven set at 2-2, improved to 6-1 at home in the postseason and unleashed a five-unanswered goal rally, chasing Idaho goaltender Richard Bachman (fell to 6-2 with 11 saves) who left in the second period with an injury.
Idaho, who won their first six games of the playoffs, have lost two in a row and Stockton's win guaranteed a return of the series to Boise, beginning on Tuesday, May 11 for Game 6.STOCKTON VS. IDAHO - NATIONAL CONFERENCE FINALS
Game 1: Stockton 2 at Idaho 4
Game 2: Stockton 0 at Idaho 4
Game 3: Idaho 0 at Stockton 1
Game 4: Idaho 2 at Idaho 7
Game 5: Idaho at Stockton - Saturday, May 8 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 6: Stockton at Idaho - Tuesday, May 11 - 6:10 p.m. (Qwest Arena)
Game 7: Stockton at Idaho - Wednesday, May 12 - 6:10 p.m. (Qwest Arena) *
* If necessary
"Give credit to our whole team - we've been extremely successful with our focus ever since we've come home," said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. "I liked the way we consistently went strong to the net, all night long. You need great goaltending, not just ‘good' goaltending, to get far in the postseason and Bryan Pitton was nothing short of great tonight. We have a lot to take out of tonight and apply it to tomorrow as our focus shifts to Game 5."
Robinson steered a backdoor pass by Steve Vanoosten past Richard Bachman's glove from the right goal post, giving the Thunder the first goal of the game at 12:49 of the first period on the power-play. It was the first time the Thunder scored the game's first goal in the series.
One of Pitton's highlight reel saves was on a John Swanson wrist shot through traffic in the high slot, which Pitton snared with his glove early in the second period.
Swanson chased a pinballed rebound from close range to an open net to tie the game, 1-1 with 4:55 into the second period, but the Thunder responded with Caudron's 2-on-1 goal, converting Oren Eizenman's feed from the left wing with a one-timer past Bachman's blocker, restoring the 2-1 lead.
Bachman was visibly shaken up on the play after a collision with teammate Evan Barlow, who attempted to backcheck on the 2-on-1 break.
After Bachman elected to stay in following medical treatment, the Thunder quickly responded to hike the lead at 3-1 on Brett Hemingway's goal in his postseason debut this year, stuffing a wrap-around attempt past Bachman's blocker just 1:54 later.
The Thunder boosted their advantage to 4-1 after Bachman was yanked for backup Rejean Beauchemin. Jason Pitton converted a James Bates centering pass from behind the net, beating Beauchemin just inside the short side, left post. The goal completed a Thunder three-goal rally in a span of 3:56.
Pitton stopped nine shots in the second period, including an open, snap shot from Mark Derlago at the left circle.
Marquardt successfully re-directed Eizenman's centering feed from the right corner past Beauchemin's blocker with 2:16 gone in the third period, boosting the game to a 5-1 Thunder advantage.
The Thunder turned it into a rout with their third power-play goal of the game, when Bates slugged a loose puck, out of mid-air past Beauchemin's blocker with 14:10 left in the game for a 6-1 lead.
Just 1:59 later, Colin Hemingway rifled a face-off win by Igor Gongalsky with a one-timer from the right circle past Beauchemin, hiking the Thunder advantage to 7-1.
Swanson closed the scoring with his second goal of the game, a one-timer at the left circle with 5:25 left in regulation on a 5-on-3 power-play.
Tempers flared late in the game and 67 minutes in penalties were issued to both teams, including 25 to Kevin DeVirgilio, ejected after an altercation with Ryan Constant. DeVirgilio received a five-minute, game misconduct for spearing, a separate 10-minute, unsportsmanlike conduct and an extra ten minutes for the ejection.NOTES:
The Thunder scratched Riley Emmerson (inactive list), Garet Hunt (one-game suspension), Trevor Hunt (inactive list), Chris D'Alvise (injury, day-to-day) and Kelly Czuy (injury, day-to-day) ... the Thunder converted at a 3-for-8 rate on the power-play ... Stockton has now scored an average of 5.1 goals per game at home in the postseason (36 goals in seven games) ... ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna was in attendance at the game.
Both teams return to play in Game 5 of the series at Stockton Arena on Saturday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. The game can be heard and viewed online exclusively at www.stocktonthunder.com
, courtesy of B2 Networks (audio is free of charge).