An absolutely horrid defensive display by the Bulls led to a dominant effort by the Stockton Thunder. The Thunder were the more dangerous team throughout the contest as they cruised by the Bulls by a score of five to two. The Bulls again were bitten early in the period as they allowed three combined goals in under the three minutes in the first two periods. Both Bulls goals came on the power play as the two top scorers Dean Ouellet and Peter Sivak found the back of the net.
The Bulls got off to another horrible start to a period as they gave up a pair of quick goals for the second straight game. The first goal came off a defensive breakdown. It allowed Yannick Riendeau to find himself unmarked at the side of the net as he was able to easily beat Taylor Nelson for his 12th goal on the season. A Jonathan Lessard elbowing penalty gave the Thunder their first power play of the night just 20 seconds later. It did not take long for the third ranked Thunder power play to find success as they scored just six seconds into the man advantage. Riendeau was able to beat Nelson by going five hole for his second goal of the game. Nelson would have most likely like to have this one back as it is one he should have saved. The Bulls took another early penalty as Joe Sova was called for delay of game. The Bulls were able to have a much better performance on the penalty kill. The Bulls were given a shot a life immediately following the penalty kill as Stockton’s Matt Bergland took an interference penalty. Peter Sivak continues to be red hot as a bouncing puck finds Sivak at the side of the net that he putt away for his 16th of the year bringing the Bulls to within one. The Thunder were able to pull back ahead by two late in the period as another defensive lapse allowed Eric Hunter to score the third goal of the game for the Thunder. Shots were tied at 11 at the end of the period.
The second period saw much more of the same as the Bulls defense looked shaky at best, but they managed to maintain their two goal deficit by the end of the period. The Bulls gave up another early goal as Matt Ambroz scored his first goal of the season to give the Thunder a three goal lead. The Bulls defense was again out of position as Ambroz found an easy scoring chance for his goal. This goal led to goalie Taylor Nelson getting pulled for the second straight game early in the second. He was replaced by back up Bryan Hince. Hince proved to be the star of the second period. He saved all eight shots he faced during the period, including several highlight saves on Thunder scoring chances. The Bulls would go back on the power play midway through the second as Harrison Reed got called for hooking. The Bulls again would capitalize as rookie sensation Dean Ouellet scored his team leading 18th goal to bring the Bulls back to within two. A late penalty by Rylan Galiardi set up the Thunder for 90 seconds of power play for the third period. Stockton led in shots with 10 to the Bulls 9.
The Thunder started off with a power play left over from the second period. The Bulls penalty kill unit came up big again as they were able to hold the Thunder special teams scoreless again. The Thunder had most of the jump throughout the third period as they controlled possession for the majority of the period. The Thunder scored the put away goal as Matt Reber was able to solve Bryan Hince for his seventh goal on the season and the fifth of the game for the Thunder. The Bulls were never able to mount much of charge for the rest of the period as the Thunder led in shot 11 to seven.
The reason for tonight’s final is pretty simple as the defense simply did not show up as the lack of assistant captain Scott Langdon was felt by a defense that was disorganized all night. Yannick Riendeau showed why he is the leading scorer on a strong Thunder as he had two goals and an assist in tonight’s game. The positives from tonight’s game are the specials teams. The Bulls power play was able to convert on two of three chances, while the penalty kill successfully killed off four of five chances. Another bright spot for the Bulls was the play of the new top line of Peter Sivak, Dean Ouellet, and newcomer Rylan Galiardi as they were dangerous all night. The Bulls fall to 13-20-5 on the season, while the Thunder improve to 21-13-7. These two teams will face off in game two of this three game series tomorrow night at the Cow Palace.
- Yannick Riendeau – Stockton
- Eric Hunter – Stockton
- Matt Reber – Stockton