Not So Fast (Video)

The SKYCITY Stampede bounced back to beat the Dunedin Thunder 6-2 on 18 June.  The Thunder were hoping to build on their first win of the season, but the Stampede took advantage of the Thunder’s mistakes to take the win comfortably.

In the second game of their two-game series, the Dunedin Thunder took on the Southern Stampede following their thrilling victory over the visitors at the Dunedin Ice Stadium.  The victory was hard-fought for the Thunder, who were outshot 50-28, but rode an outstanding game from goalie Danny Lee and standout effort from their second line, highlighted by two highlight reel goals from import Greg Wilson.

“It was definitely a confidence booster for the guys and they earned that win by playing hard and sticking to the game plan for a full 60 minutes. We also know the Stampede are going to be better today and come out much harder, so we will also need to step up our game from yesterday to get another win today,” according to Thunder Head Coach Matt Hladun.

Trying to repeat the previous night’s heroics, the Thunder started Danny Lee in goal and the Stampede countered with Ashton Brookes between the pipes.

The expectation was that the veteran Stampede club would try to put the previous night’s setback behind them and get out to a quick start.  The Thunder would want to get off to a good start and not give the Stampede a chance to rebuild their confidence.

The opening six minutes were quite even, with both teams getting opportunities, but neither team dominating.

The Thunder got the first power-play opportunity of the game on a slashing penalty to the Stampede’s Schneider.  However, the Thunder couldn’t generate much with the man-advantage.

The Thunder took a 1-0 lead at 11:49 when Juris Berzins jumped into the rush and slotted high on the blocker side on a nice pass from Greg Wilson to spring him.

But Danny Lee proved mortal under a minute later on defensive miscue in the Thunder’s defensive zone, which lead to a goal from Braden Lee at 12:20.

Then a second goal came for the Stampede less than a minute later on a nice feed from Mike McRae to Colin McIntosh at 13:10. The Thunder appeared to be napping on the play and seemed to be missing defenceman Pierre-Luc Coulombe, who appeared to pick up a lower-body injury on his first shift of the game and his intensity and leadership were notably absent.

The Stampede extended their lead to 3-1 on a low drive from Jeremy Akeson that beat Lee on the glove side at 14:15.   At this stage, the Stampede were threatening to put the game out of reach and the Thunder were looking shaky.

Both teams traded chances after that, with the Stampede looking more dangerous and the Thunder chasing the game.  Shots in the period were 14-7 in favour of the Stampede.    The Thunder will rue the two-minute stretch in the middle of the period when they seemed to lose their focus and the Stampede made them pay.

The Thunder would need to get off to a good start in the second period and give themselves a chance to get back into the game.  The Stampede looked much more confident in the opening frame and McRae, who had missed the previous night’s game certainly made his presence felt.

The Thunder very nearly had a nightmare start to the period on a giveaway from Greg Wilson, giving a golden opportunity to the Stampede, but they could not capitalise.

The Stampede did add to their lead at 2:52 on some soft play by the Thunder in their own zone leading to a goal by Braden Lee.

The Thunder got one back on a beautiful snipe from Benji Gavoille at 3:26 that beat Brookes on the glove side.

The Stampede’s Schneider tried to flatten one of the Thunder players at 5:53 of the period, but he broke the glass and went flying out of the rink in a sequence that looked more like the WWE than the NHL.   He quickly left the ice and it appeared that he may have injured his hand.    At that point, the game was suspended while referees and Stadium staff tried to repair the broken glass.   The repair took about ten minutes and Schneider was back on the ice when play resumed.

The game started slowly after that, but a wee tussle between Paris Heyd and Connor Harrison lead to off-setting penalties and some 4 on 4 hockey.  The extra space opened up some opportunities, but neither side could score.

The Stampede re-established their three-goal lead at 16:22 after a long period of possession in the Thunder zone.  Akeson fired high on the blocker side to beat Danny Lee.

They added a sixth at 18:32 on a goal from McIntosh who went in one-on-one with the Thunder Defenseman, who didn’t do quite enough to tie him up and he flipped the puck past Lee, who wasn’t quite as sharp this afternoon.

Shots in the period were 19 for the Stampede and 11 for the Thunder.

To have any chance at getting back into the game, the Thunder would need to get out of the gate quickly in the third period.

The Thunder’s chance to get back in the game came on a penalty to McRae for hooking at 6:27, but the home side couldn’t breach the Stampede goal.

Successive penalties to McIntosh and Akeson on the Stampede gave the Thunder a 5-on-3, which the Thunder couldn’t do much with, but McIntosh was immediately penalised for cross-checking and given a 10-minute misconduct when he came back on the ice, giving the Thunder an extended two-man advantage.   However, the Thunder couldn’t get back into the game.

Shots for the game were 41 for the Stampede and 24 for the Thunder.

Despite the loss today, the Thunder should be pleased with the split against the defending champions.  They had sequences of very solid play and for long periods looked the equal to their Southern rival.  They will need to work on reducing their defensive errors and maintaining their intensity for a full 60 minutes.

They will be looking forward to travelling up to Christchurch next weekend to take on the Red Devils.

Match Report by Richard Audas