Bakersfield Condors goalie Scott Greenham stole his team a point on Sunday (Oct. 28), but Stockton Thunder defenseman Tony DeHart made sure Greenham didn’t get any more.
DeHart blasted a slap shot past Greenham with just six seconds remaining in overtime to salvage a 3-2 victory for the Thunder before a crowd of 5,062 at Stockton Arena. The goal came on Stockton’s 45th shot against Greenham, whose 42 saves kept the game’s outcome in doubt until DeHart’s bomb ended it.
“Honestly, I was just trying to get it through (to the net),” said DeHart, who took a set-up pass from Eric Hunter, used a Bakersfield defenseman as a screen and beat Greenham with a rocket from just inside the blue line. “I didn’t even see it go in.”
Ironically, DeHart had just come on the ice to replace a tired Nathan Deck, who had just been part of a successful penalty kill by the Thunder.
“I just got right in the play,” DeHart said. “It was nice. It was a good feeling. The timing was perfect.”
Condors Coach Matt O’Dette said his team’s coverage in the defensive zone was anything but perfect on DeHart’s goal.
“We just needed to hang on for six more seconds, and we made a huge mistake,” O’Dette said. “On a 4-on-4, you don’t have two forwards on the same side of the ice in the D-zone. Both our forwards went to the same side, leaving (DeHart) open and he had all day to walk in and rip it. We just had to hold the middle lane for six seconds and we’re going to a shootout.”
If not for Greenham’s performance, the game likely would have been decided long before DeHart finally settled it. Aside from enjoying a 45-26 advantage in shots, the Thunder generally outplayed the Condors for most of the game.
“We were all over them,” DeHart said. “Every shift seemed like a power play for us.”
Still, the Thunder (4-1-1) faced a 1-0 deficit at the first intermission despite enjoying a 15-9 advantage in shots in the first period. Jacob Legace accounted for the period’s only goal when he scored off an assist from David Toews almost four and a half minutes into the game. The goal came on Bakersfield’s first shot against Thunder goalie Tyler Bunz, who ended up making 24 saves in earning the victory.
The Thunder pulled into a 1-1 tie when Ryan Constant scored off assists from Toni Rajala and Philippe Cornet not quite 16 minutes into the second period. The Condors (3-4-1) recaptured the lead on a goal by Tyler Brenner slightly more than seven minutes into the third period, but Rajala netted a power-play goal off assists from Deck and Hunter with barely more than six minutes remaining to allow the Thunder to push the game to overtime.
The Thunder had a chance to win the game in regulation time when Cornet was awarded a penalty shot with 3:40 left, but Greenham stopped Cornet with a pad save to prevent the Thunder from breaking the tie.
“It was the end of the game and the ice was pretty bad, so I didn’t get the shot I wanted,” Cornet said. “The puck started bouncing on me and I couldn’t make a deke, so I just took a quick shot. Then again, you just have to credit the goalie sometimes.”
O’Dette credited Greenham for allowing the Condors to get a point out of the game despite the large disparity in shots.
“He’s been stealing games for us and I think we were lucky to get even a point,” O’Dette said. “We stole a point, (but) we feel like we could have stolen two if we had been smarter.”
Since losing the season opener, Stockton now has played five consecutive games without being defeated in regulation time. Even so, Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said the team hasn’t quite hit full stride.
“I still don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders, and that’s the scary thing,” Thomas said. “We’re creating a lot of chances, I just don’t think we’re burying a lot of chances.”
Stockton next plays on Friday (Nov. 2), when Bakersfield again visits Stockton Arena.
The box score from Sunday’s game can be viewed here: