Thunder take 1-0 series lead on Urquhart's two goals, Van Buskirk's 35 saves
STOCKTON, Calif. - Goaltender Parker Van Buskirk won his fourth postseason game in five appearances with 35 saves, spelling Cory Urquhart's pair of goals to lead the Stockton Thunder to a 4-3 victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers in Game 1 of the Pacific Division Finals of the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 4,398 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday.
The Thunder took a 1-0 lead in the second round, best-of-seven series and received additional offensive support on goals from Ryan Huddy and Robbie Bina, rolling over the Wranglers in a three-goal rally that spanned 2:49 in the first period. Mike Hamilton, Justin Taylor and Adam Miller scored for Las Vegas.
STOCKTON VS. LAS VEGAS - PACIFIC DIVISION FINALS
(All Times Mountain)
Game 1: Las Vegas 3 at Stockton 4
Game 2: Stockton at Las Vegas - Monday, April 27 - 8:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)
Game 3: Las Vegas at Stockton - Thursday, April 30 - 8:00 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 4: Las Vegas at Stockton - Saturday, May 2 - 8:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 5: Stockton at Las Vegas - Monday, May 4 - 8:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena) *
Game 6: Stockton at Las Vegas - Tuesday, May 5 - 8:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena) *
Game 7: Stockton at Las Vegas - Wednesday, May 6 - 8:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)*
* If necessary
Both teams combined for five goals during a wild first period, with the Thunder coming out with a 3-2 lead on the three-goal rally. Mike Hamilton converted a one-timer at the right circle to put Las Vegas ahead 1-0 just 3:59 into the game and Justin Taylor's rebound goal lifted the Wranglers to a 2-0 lead at the 6:06 mark.
The Thunder started their rally with Urquhart's seventh goal of the postseason at 9:22 of the period, converting Sebastien Bisaillon's backdoor pass at the left goal post to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Huddy then tied the score just 1:17 later when his backhander snuck over an outstretched glove of goaltender Glenn Fisher.
On an ensuing power-play, Robbie Bina slammed in a rebound past Fisher's stick side at 12:11, putting the Thunder up 3-2 and forcing Las Vegas to pull Fisher in favor of backup John DeCaro.
Miller's re-direction goal tied the game with 2:24 gone in the second period when he went to the front of the net and tipped Sean Owens' drive from the high slot past Van Buskirk's blocker. Van Buskirk kept the tie in hold with 13 saves in the middle frame.
Urquhart netted the game-winning goal at 4:02 of the third period, completing a give-and-go play with Ryan Huddy for the club's second man-advantage goal of the game. While on the rush, Huddy slipped a pass to Urquhart below the left circle, pulling DeCaro off the blocker side post. Urquhart then snuck a wrist shot past DeCaro to put the Thunder up by one.
Van Buskirk helped the Thunder hold the lead with 13 saves in the final period, evading a flurry of Wranglers chances in front of the net with two minutes left.
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Igor Gongalsky (injury, day-to-day), Mike Lalonde (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Andrew Perugini (injured reserve) and Adam Huxley (healthy) ... the Thunder converted at a 2-for-6 rate on the power-play on blanked the second-leading Wrangler power-play unit on six penalty kill chances ... Bates' assist, part of a two-point game, extended his scoring streak to five consecutive games ... Fisher allowed three goals on eight shots before giving way to DeCaro, who stopped 19 bids.
The Thunder and Wranglers return to play for Game 2 of the series on Monday, April 27 at Orleans Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. The game is available on radio at 1420 KSTN and is available for viewing online (audio is free-of-charge) for a $7 charge at http://www.stocktonthunder.com/ (courtesy of B2 Networks).
1. STK - 30 Parker Van Buskirk
2. STK - 10 Cory Urquhart
3. STK - 26 Ryan Huddy
LINK TO BOXSCORE