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Thunder one victory away from Kelly Cup Finals
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STOCKTON — The Stockton Thunder earned a late third period goal by Maxime Boisclair and used a key save by Olivier Roy on a penalty shot with 1.4 seconds left in regulation to hold on for a 3-2 win over the Idaho Steelheads and take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals in front of 4,417 fans at Stockton Arena on Friday.

The Thunder now stands one win away from its first trip to the Kelly Cup Finals in team history.

Forward Maxime Boisclair scored the game winner, while team captain Garet Hunt and forward Harrison Reed also found the back of the net for the Thunder.

“We knew that we started really slow in the last two home games.” Boisclair said, “We didn’t want to do the same thing tonight. We wanted to get off to a good start and that’s what we did.”

Olivier Roy, who earned the first star with 27 saves and a penalty shot stop, took the win. Idaho’s Josh Robinson was dealt a loss in a 32 save effort.

The Thunder will attempt to clinch the Western Conference title in Game 5today against Idaho at Stockton Arena at 7:30 p.m.

 After a scoreless first period, a giveaway by the Thunder led to a goal by Brett Robinson just 47 seconds into the second period. From his knees, Justin Taylor passed to Robinson in front of goal, where Robinson was too quick for Roy, giving the Steelheads a 1-0 lead.

Just 20 seconds later, Reed provided Stockton’s answer. Forward Matt Bergland sent the puck to the top of the circles, where Reed was able to get his stick to it before a trio of Steelheads defenders. The puck found its way into the net, and the Thunder had tied the game at 1-1.

Early in the third period, Hunter centered the puck from the left circle. Thunder captain Garet Hunt found the puck and fired a wrist shot that sailed by Robinson’s glove and gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead 2:59 into the final frame.

The Steelheads responded 14 seconds later when Robinson knocked in his second goal of the night in a scrum in front of the net, tying the contest at 2-2.

Collecting the puck at the right point, defenseman Nathan Deck sent a shot to the right of the goal, with the puck bouncing off the boards to the left post. Boisclair, having played the rebound correctly, met the puck and tapped it in, putting the Thunder on top 3-2 with 2:36 to go in the third period.

“It was kind of a lucky bounce.” Boisclair said, “Deck took a wide shot and it went off the other side. I just had to put the puck in.”

With 1.4 seconds remaining, Deck was called for a delay of game, resulting in a penalty shot for Idaho. Austin Smith stepped up to take the penalty, but his shot was wide right. The Thunder won the ensuing faceoff and ran out the clock to seal the win.