Game 1 Preview: Stockton vs. Las Vegas
#4 STOCKTON THUNDER vs. #2 LAS VEGAS WRANGLERS
GAME 1 - PACIFIC DIVISION FINAL
April 24, 2009 - Stockton Arena
FACEOFF: 7:30 p.m.
RADIO: 1420 KSTN
INTERNET: www.StocktonThunder.com (B2 Networks)
PACIFIC DIVISION FINAL
Game 1: at Stockton - Friday, April 24 - 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: at Las Vegas - Monday, April 27 - 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: at Stockton - Thursday, April 30 - 7:00 p.m.
Game 4: at Stockton - Saturday, May 2 - 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: at Las Vegas - Monday, May 4 - 7:30 p.m. *
Game 6: at Las Vegas - Tuesday, May 5 - 7:30 p.m. *
Game 7: at Las Vegas - Wednesday, May 6 - 7:30 p.m. *
* If necessary
The fourth seeded Thunder faces the second seed Las Vegas Wranglers in Game 1 of the Pacific Division Final (second round) of the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, a best-of-seven series that follows a "1-1-2-3" format. It is the first time the Thunder have advanced to the second round in team history. The head-to-head series is a rematch of the first round of the 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs (National Conference Quarterfinal) when the Thunder were defeated by Las Vegas, 4-2 in a best-of-seven series. This year marks the Thunder's third straight playoff appearance and third in four seasons since joining the ECHL. The Wranglers are making their fourth straight appearance in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals last year for the first time in club history. The Thunder finished 3-3-0 this season against Las Vegas.
THUNDER BEFORE REIGN IN THE FIRST ROUND - A RECAP
The Thunder defeated the Ontario Reign, 4-3 in a best-of-seven series which was the first playoff series victory in Thunder history ... Cory Urquhart led the Thunder in scoring for the series with 9 points (6g-3a) and Craig Valette tallied three game winning goals ... goaltender Parker Van Buskirk, signed as a free agent on 4/12 after Andrew Perugini was placed on injured reserve, went 3-1 in the series ... Stockton won Game 7, 5-4 at Citizens Business Bank Arena on the strength of four first period goals and Parker Van Buskirk's 27 saves ... Stockton won Game 4 in overtime, 5-4 on James Bates' goal at 2:28 of the first sudden-death OT period ... the game was the playoff debut of Van Buskirk, who made 29 saves for the Thunder ... the Thunder evened the series at 1-1 with a 6-5 win in Game 2 at Citizens Business Bank Arena, tying a club playoff record with six goals - Craig Valette scored twice in the game ... Ontario took Game 1 in a 4-3 victory despite a third period rally by the Thunder, who tied the game on a Cory Urquhart power-play goal which marked a two-goal rally in the final frame before Shawn Germain's game-winner.
SEASON SERIES RECAP
The Thunder finished 3-3-0 vs. Las Vegas this season, taking three of the first four meetings (all at Stockton Arena) ... head coach Matt Thomas made his home head coaching debut for Stockton on Jan. 16 against the Wranglers in a 7-2 Thunder win, with Mike Lalonde scoring four points (2g-2a) in the game ... the Thunder clinched its berth into the Kelly Cup Playoffs on Mar. 29 in a 3-1 victory at Stockton Arena, with Craig Valette scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period ... Las Vegas swept the Thunder in the final two games of the regular season at Orleans Arena to clinch the #2 seed in the playoffs ... Mike Lalonde's seven points (2g-5a) led the team in the head-to-head series
THUNDER PLAYOFF HISTORY NOTES
The Thunder berth in the second round of the playoffs is the first in team history, after defeating Ontario, 4-3 in a best-of-seven series. Last season, the Thunder lost to the eventual National Conference champion Las Vegas Wranglers, 4-2 in the National Conference Quarterfinal round. The Thunder won game 1 by a 4-2 score on four goals in the third period and set club playoff records in a 6-3 win in game 5 at Stockton Arena, for most goals in a game (6) and most goals in one period (tied, 4). In 2006-07, Stockton was defeated by the Idaho Steelheads, 4-2 in the National Conference Quarterfinal en route to Idaho's second Kelly Cup Championship in four years. Two players remain with the Thunder, who have appeared in the club's entire 12 lifetime Kelly Cup Playoff games (defenseman Mark Adamek, assistant coach and former defenseman Tim O'Connell) before 2008-09.
SHOOT TO THRILL
The Thunder scored 27 goals in the first round seven-game series, breaking the club record (20) for most in one series ... Cory Urquhart led the Thunder with six goals and nine points (6g-3a) in the series and Craig Valette had three game-winning goals, leading the ECHL in that category ... Urquhart's hat trick in Game 1 vs. Ontario was the second in Thunder playoff history.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
The Thunder has two players (captain and defenseman Matt O'Dette and center Cory Urquhart) with pro championship experience - O'Dette helped guide the Saint John Flames to a Calder Cup championship in 2001 and Urquhart helped guide the Arizona Sundogs to a CHL President's Cup championship last year. Additionally, veteran center Damian Surma and assistant coach Tim O'Connell (defenseman at the time who amassed 65 games of Kelly Cup Playoff experience) helped the Florida Everblades reach back-to-back appearances in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2004-05. In 2004, Surma scored a double-overtime game-winning goal to eliminate Roanoke in the first round and scored an overtime winner in game 6 the 2005 American Conference Finals to help Florida eliminate Charlotte.
A part of the 2003 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies team that won the Kelly Cup championship, Thunder head coach Matt Thomas was an assistant coach for Atlantic City. Thunder assistant coach Ryan Mougenel scored 9 points (1g-8a) in 17 Kelly Cup Playoff games for Atlantic City during the 2003 postseason.
Below is a list of the top-5 active Thunder players who have the most pro playoff experience in games:
PLAYER - GAMES
MATT O'DETTE - 69
DAMIAN SURMA - 59
CORY URQUHART - 55
TYLER KINDLE - 28
MARK ADAMEK - 19