From the Eagles:

STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder defeated the Colorado Eagles, 5-3, in the first of four meetings between the Western Conference rivals.  Colorado found themselves playing catch-up all game long as the Thunder would strike early in each of the three periods.  Despite the Eagles tying the game prior to each intermission, a pair of shorthanded tallies by Stockton in the third period — the latter with Colorado’s net vacated for an extra attacker — were the difference in the game.
The Thunder got off to an exceptional start, building a 2-0 lead — on their first four shots — less than four minutes into the contest.  Both goals were created off of rebounds and came just over two minutes apart.

The first score came just 1:47 in when Eric Hunter took a shot from atop the left circle and Justin Maylan put it home from the left side of the goal.  Then at 3:50, Philippe Cormet skated across the doorstep and picked up a rebound before sending a quick backhand pass to a wide open Ryan Martindale.

The Thunder had a chance shortly thereafter to add to their early momentum, but they couldn’t convert on a power play — Stockton received all three of the first frame’s power plays — and instead, surrendered a shorthanded goal.  On the play, Ray Kaunisto jumped on an errant drop-pass at the Eagles’ offensive blue line and broke in on Tyler Bunz to cut the home team’s lead in half.

Minutes later, the Eagles appeared to tie the game when Devin DiDiomete crashed the crease and had the puck deflect off of his body and into the net, but the goal was waived off by referee Mike McBain.  Undeterred, however, Colorado was able to find that tying tally in the final minute of the first frame when Kevin Ulanski found Steve Haddon on a rush into the Thunder zone.

The second period played out similarly as Stockton got another early goal off a rebound to re-take the lead.  Just 1:17 in, Yannick Riendeau collected a rebound in the low slot and found Hunter at the right post for a power-play goal.

But just like in the first frame, the Eagles bounced back yet again.  Working a two-man advantage, DiDiomete was able to screen the Stockton goalie of an Aaron Schneekloth shot before backhanding home a rebound from the doorstep to tie the game up at 3 midway through the second period.

Colorado was awarded a power play early in the final frame, but again it was Stockton that would strike first.  Just over two minutes into the period, a Thunder forechecker pressured Trent Daavettila into a turnover in the Eagles’ zone and the puck made its way to a wide open Garet Hunt for a shot from between the hash marks.

The Eagles nearly battled back again, and were given a golden opportunity with a power play for the final 1:33.  They doubled down and pulled Kyle Jones for an extra attacker and a two-man advantage.  But moments after Teegan Moore swatted and missed at the puck in mid-air for what would have been a sure-fire goal, Hunter settled it and sent it nearly 200 feet down the ice into the empty net to ice the game.

The teams will play Wednesday, Friday & Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center as the Eagles return from a six game road trip.

What do you think about the Eagles’ struggles on the road?