Colorado Springs, Colo. — The host Colorado Springs Thunder didn’t disappoint their hometown crowd as they swept the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Grizzlies in the first two games of the 2010 PIHA Finals, 2-0 and 4-3 (OT), tonight here at the Tour Arena.
In the first game Dan Lamb stood tall in net for the Western Conference champs, turning aside every shot he faced to lead the Thunder to a 2-0 victory. After a scoreless first half, the two teams continued to thwart each other’s chances until the Thunder finally struck with less than one minute left in the game. Brian Yingling converted on a pass from CJ Yoder and beat Grizzlies goalie Andrew Goworek at 11:09 to give the Thunder a 1-0 advantage. Yoder then added an empty-net goal at 11:31 to seal the 2-0 win. The Thunder outshot the Grizzlies 19-11.
In the second game, the teams once again were scoreless in the first half. The second half saw the Thunder take a 2-0 lead less than two minutes into the half on a power-play goal from Nick Gonnella at 1:12, and an even-strength tally from CJ Yoder at 1:38. The Grizzlies responded with a goal of their own from Andrew Brodsky only 18 seconds later to pull the Grizzlies within a goal. Thunder forward Brian Higney then lit the lamp at the four-minute mark to extend the Thunder lead to 3-1. However, the Grizzlies took advantage of some Thunder mistakes to score two unanswered goals late in the game to send it to overtime. Philip Cocozzo struck at 6:34 on the power play and Chris Wolf registered a pretty three-on-three breakway goal at 9:34 to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Thunder, which earned a power-play opportunity with only 10 seconds remaining in regulation, didn’t waste any time sealing the game in OT. Still skating on the man advantage to open overtime, Brian Yingling received the puck down low to the left of Grizzlies netminder Andrew Goworek and sent a nifty pass across the top of the crease to a waiting CJ Yoder who buried the puck only 57 second in to give the Thunder the 4-3 win. The Grizzlies outshot the Thunder, 22-16.
“We’re happy we came away with the results we did tonight,” said Thunder Head Coach Dave Needham. “The Grizzlies are a strong team, and we don’t expect them to let up tomorrow night. We’re going to have to play smart at both ends of the floor tomorrow, and good things will continue to happen.”
The Thunder now have the upper hand in the best-of-seven series heading into Games 3 and 4 tomorrow night at 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. (MST) at the Tour Arena in Colorado Springs. Tickets are still available and fans across the country can also catch the action live on the Web at Justin.TV.