This time, the Thunder found its spark on the end of the bench, wearing a baseball cap.
Backup goalie Tyler Bunz, who has played sparingly in postseason, was called upon to replace an injured Olivier Roy and came through big as his team beat the Reading Royals 4-3 in the fourth game of the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals. Stockton staved off elimination, but still trails 3-1.
Bunz actually called upon himself, because with Roy being attended to by trainer George Bullock, he skated to the Stockton net.
“He went down pretty hard, it was a high-speed collision,” Bunz said. “He didn’t look good from the second he got hit. I knew from the second he got hit that I was probably going in, so I wanted to get out there and stretch.
“I skated over to see if he was OK, and George said he was done for the game,” Bunz continued. “It’s tough to see your partner go down, but I was happy with how the guys responded when I went in.”
Coach Matt Thomas was a little surprised to see Bunz go out on the ice.
“I didn’t know he was going in. I was looking at Olivier and George on the ice, and all of the sudden Bunzie skated into the net. … I guess it wasn’t important for me to know, it was important for Bunzie to know. And he was awesome.”
The Thunder finally looked like the scrappy, stubborn team which willed its way into the finals. It kept its chances alive, but we’ll see if it will have to move on without Roy, whose condition was not known after the game.