A red-hot line just keeps burning for the Stockton Thunder.
Philippe Cornet, Toni Rajala and Eric Hunter produced a combined seven points as the Thunder cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Utah Grizzlies in front of a crowd of 5,373 at Stockton Arena on Friday night (Nov. 16).
Cornet paced the Thunder attack with two goals and an assist while Rajala added a goal and two assists and Hunter chipped in an assist.
“We were flying out there,” Cornet said. “Everything is just clicking for us right now.”
Cornet, Rajala and Hunter have been clicking since the start of the ECHL season. Rajala, a rookie who has produced at least one point in 10 consecutive games, leads the Thunder in goals (nine), assists (11) and points (20). Cornet is close behind with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) and Hunter has logged eight points (two goals, six assists).
“They’re a good line together,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said. “They’re all good players. All three of them in their own right bring a little something different to the line. They complement each other real well.”
After losing two of three games on a freshly-concluded road trip, the Thunder (9-3-1) got back on track at home. Stockton improved to 5-1-0 on home ice and has scored at least five goals in four straight home starts.
“We worked hard,” Thomas said. “We played well. It was a good effort by us all the way through our lineup.”
Dan Ringwald staked the Thunder to a 1-0 lead when he scored his first goal of the season barely more than two minutes into the game off assists from Justin Maylan and Phil Mangan.
Utah’s Bryan Cameron negated Ringwald’s goal by scoring about six minutes later to lock the teams in a 1-1 tie. The Thunder needed only 52 seconds to respond, however, and recaptured the lead when Cameron Abney scored with almost 11 minutes left in the first period. Mangan and Matt Reber were credited with assists on the goal by Abney, who was assigned to Stockton from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
Cornet’s first goal of the game exactly two minutes after Abney’s and allowed the Thunder to take a 3-1 cushion into the first intermission. The goal came during a Stockton power play and was set up by Rajala and Ryan Constant.
Cornet scored again not quite two minutes into the second period off assists from Rajala and Nathan Deck.
Rajala accounted for the only other goal of the second period when he scored off assists from Cornet and Hunter at 14:11 to give the Thunder a 5-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Josh Burrows delivered a power-play goal for Utah while the Grizzlies (5-7-0) were enjoying a two-man advantage at 6:13 of the third period, but Deck answered with a power-play goal for the Thunder at 14:25 to account for the final score. Kristians Pelss and Mike Little were credited with assists on Deck’s goal.
Stockton finished with a 42-27 edge in shots. Thunder goalie Tyler Bunz made 25 saves in recording the victory, and Utah goalie Grant Rollheiser was credited with 36 saves in defeat.
The Thunder will be back in action on Sunday, when the Idaho Steelheads visit Stockton Arena.
The box score from Friday’s game can be viewed here: