Different look awaits next Thunder game

Friday’s game will certainly look different at Stockton Arena. But will it play different?

The Thunder and San Francisco Bulls will play on the Stockton Arena ice which is adorned with paintings of more than 800 youngsters, courtesy of the “Kids Take Over Stockton Arena” promotion following Sunday’s 5-1 Stockton win against the Bulls. The ice is literally covered with youth grafitti, and it looks really cool.

But will it affect the players. Stockton practiced on it for the first time on Wednesday, and admitted it was different.

“It took a little getting used to, and at first it was a little tricky to see the puck,” Thunder captain Garet Hunt said. “But you make adjustments, and it was great to do for the kids. It will be the same for both teams.”

Said goalie Brian Foster: “It will be a little different at first. But once we get playing, I don’t think it will be that big of a deal.”

After Friday’s game, the paintings will be cleared from the ice.

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Thunder earns feisty win as kids take over Stockton Arena

Before a bunch of youngsters went out and painted its ice with everything from flowers to turtles, the Thunder finished 2013 with a very good performance.

It beat the S.F. Bulls 5-1 at Stockton Arena, thanks mostly to a four-goal first period and a fine outing by goalie Parker Milner, who got a much-needed win.

The game turned early when Matt Bergland scored and James Henry contributed a shorthanded goal, which was a back breaker for the Bulls. Mike Dalhuisen, Nick Larson and Landon Oslanski also scored, and Milner took care of the rest and had 31 saves.

This was the third out of what amounts to a five-game series between the franchises, and it got pretty nasty on Sunday. There was four fights — Thunder captain Garet Hunt had two — and plenty of shoving and pushing.

Sunday was “Kids Takes Over” Day at the arena, with children taking up various jobs around the arena such as announcing, running the music board, etc. It was a fun event, and at the end of the game they were allowed on the ice to paint it. The Thunder and Bulls will play on the newly decorated ice on Friday.

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Video: Our All-Area football player and coach of the year

Hear from Manteca’s Alex Laurel and coach Reis about their historic season:

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A win and a bit of a rest

The Thunder won its first game in 13 days on Saturday, and will get a chance to enjoy it for a little while.

Stockton beat the Idaho Steelheads 4-3 to end a five-game winless streak. It was the Thunder’s first real slump of the season, and it certainly had its ugly moments. After a very busy November, the team also gets to slow down, schedule-wise.

It doesn’t play against until next Saturday, when it meets the San Francisco Bulls at the Cow Palace. On Dec. 15 Stockton hosts the Bakersfield Condors.

At the Dec. 15 game, the franchise is holding a “Diaper Drive.” Fans are encouraged to bring a pack of diapers (no loose diapers) to the game, and those who do will receive a $3 off voucher to any regular season home game.The diapers will be donated to the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless.

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Ontario beats Thunder in sudden-death shootout

The Ontario Reign won its third consecutive game against the Stockton Thunder, but it needed an eight-round shootout to pull it off.

Ontario’s Matt Register scored in the top of the eighth round and Stockton couldn’t respond as the Reign won 3-2 Wednesday in front of a crowd of 9,584 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.The teams meet again Friday at Stockton Arena.

The Thunder (11-4-2) fell behind 2-1 in the third period, but was able to force overtime when Greg Miller scored 9:03 into the period. It was less than a minute after Everett Sheen had given the Reign (11-2-4) the lead.

Brett Beebe gave Ontario a 1-0 lead in the fifth round of the shootout, but Brayden Irwin staved off defeat for the Thunder by tying it up. After Register’s score, J.P. Burkemper couldn’t convert for Stockton.

Stockton goalie Brian Foster still hasn’t lost in regulation in 11 games (9-0-2) and had 43 saves. Michael Hutchinson of Ontario (9-1-2) had 37 saves.

There will be an extended game story and preview of the next game in The Record’s Friday edition.

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New goalie takes advantage of situation

Brad Phillips was out of hockey for a year, and finally made it back into the pro game on Sunday. He played well and got plenty of support in the Thunder’s 4-3 win.

He was brought in after Parker Milner was promoted to Bridgeport. Stockton was scheduled to play four times in five days, and that’s too much to ask of the exceptional Brian Foster.

Instead Foster played three in four days and won them all. Phillips’ job was to shake off the rust and give the Thunder a chance to stay in the game and have a chance to win, which he did well. Interestingly, all three goals he allowed were on his glove (left) hand.

But he hung tough until Andrew Clark came up with the game winner. He’s here at least a few weeks, perhaps longer, and it was a very nice start.

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Western Illinois at Pacific (men) pregame

A style clash will tip-off at Spanos Center in a few minutes as Western Illinois visits Pacific.

The Leathernecks like to slow it down and play tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defense under coach Jim Molinari. Western Illinois is 0-2 with losses to Idaho and Nebraska.

The Tigers have looked great on offense (82 points per game) through season-opening victories and coach Ron Verlin wants his team to play at an even faster tempo.

The team that can impose its will/style on the game is likely to prevail. The home court advantage should give Pacific the edge in that regard. The Tigers prevail 72-65 with the new handchecking rules still wreaking havoc.

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Rookie finally gets his shot, and he scores

J.P. Burkemper was waived after training camp, resigned and then put on the inactive list.

He finally got to play hockey for the Stockton Thunder, and he found a great way to celebrate — a Gordie Howe hat trick.

Burkemper had a goal, an assist and a fight in his first pro game, a 6-2 Stockton win against the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday.

“Burky hadn’t played at all, and he appeared a little nervous in practice (Wednesday),” Thunder coach Rich Kromm said. “He certainly played well, and it was good to see him have that kind of game.”

Another Thunder rookie, James Henry, had the first two-goal game of his career.

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UC Irvine at Pacific men (pregame)

The Tigers take the floor for the first time since their thrilling 80-78 victory at Nevada on Friday against former Big west Conference rival UC Irvine now.

The familiarity should make for competitive game as the teams split the regular season meetings last season, before the Tigers handled UC Irvine in the Big West Conference championship game to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

UC Irvine’s strength is its backcourt of Chris McNealy and Alex Young, though Sacramento’s Will Davis III and and 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye present an intriguing frontcourt. Pacific’s front court is experienced and deep and look for Tony Gill, Ross Rivera and guard Sama Taku to carry them to a 77-71 victory in their 2013-14 home opener.

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Pacific at Nevada (pregame)

We are live at Lawlor Events Center for the 2013-14 season opener between the Wolf Pack and Tigers.

One of Pacific’s enduring non-conference rivals, the Wolf Pack are hoping for a duplication of its 78-54 thrashing of the Tigers here two years ago. The Tigers won 78-72 in overtime last season at Spanos Center and are hoping for a repeat of that.

Pacific’s experience should keep them in this game, especially if its point guards, senior Andrew Bock and freshman T.J. Wallace, can hang with Nevada’s leading scorer Deonte Burton. The Wolf Pack was just 12-19 last season after winning the Western Athletic Conference title in 2011-12 under coach David Carter.

Ron Verlin will use Bock, Sama Taku, Trevin Harris, Tony Gill and Khalil Kelley as his starters in his first game as Pacific’s head coach after 19 years as an assistant under Bob Thomason, who retired after an NCAA Tournament appearance in March.

Pacific leads the all-time series 53-45 and has won four of the past five meetings. Look for the Tigers to keep the roll going and eke out another win.

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    Bob Highfill has worked in The Record's sports department since 1990. He has covered a variety of sports, including high schools, Pacific and professional sports. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob is a graduate of Lincoln High and the ... Read Full

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