Up North With The Thunder…So Far

What used to be a small paragraph at the end of every weekly recap is now going to become a (mostly) weekly column!

So…what have our friends up in the North Country been up to this offseason?  Quite a lot, actually.

The biggest news actually came back in late February, when the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, a locally based ownership group, bought the franchise from Calgary, who had brought the team to Glens Falls prior to the 2014-15 season as an AHL franchise from Abbotsford.  The Flames, as they were known, then became part of the AHL west migration, and in turn Calgary’s ECHL team in Stockton would move in to the Civic Center to take its place, and was subsequently rebranded as the Adirondack Thunder.

With local ownership in place, the Coalition began the Keep Hockey Here  initiative, holding numerous fundraisers in the Glens Falls area to do just that.  A recent silent memorabilia auction called Raise the Rink brought in just over $25,000, and the coalition has a dodgeball tournament and a document shredding event scheduled for later in July.

On Tuesday, the Glens Falls Civic Center officially became the Cool Insuring Arena, a name that will stay in place for the next five years.  This is the first name change for the Civic Center, which has been open since 1979.  Cool Insuring is a local insurance agency established by the first mayor of Glens Falls, Charles Cool, back in the late 1870s, and has offices in nearby Queensbury and in Latham (just north of Albany).

As for on-ice?  There’s going to be a new look there as well.

The Thunder are currently without an NHL/AHL affiliation, as Calgary and Stockton have teamed up with the Kansas City Mavericks.  They are one of just three ECHL franchises (Tulsa and Fort Wayne the others) not affiliated.  The other NHL/AHL partnerships without ECHL affiliates, if one wanted to speculate: Ottawa/Belleville, Florida/Springfield (although they sent players to Manchester last season), Arizona/Tucson, St. Louis/Chicago, Tampa Bay/Syracuse, and New Jersey/Binghamton, who while in Albany had a “handshake” agreement to send players north.  No word yet on whether that partnership will continue with the relocation.

Eight Thunder players have already moved on to other teams:

-Defenseman Alex Wall signed with Frisk Asker (Norway)

-Defenseman Roman Dyukov joined Dinamo Minsk (KHL)

-Forward Greg Wolfe signed with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway)

-Forward Cullen Bradshaw joined Kallinge/Ronneby IF (Sweden Div. 1)

-Forward Dennis Kravchenko stayed in the ECHL and signed with Fort Wayne

-Forward Brock Montgomery signed on with Tilburg (Germany)

-Defenseman Stepan Falkovsky signed with the Kings

-Defenseman Keegan Kanzig was traded to Carolina as part of the Eddie Lack deal.

As far as this year’s roster?  So far two players have signed on for the 2017-18 season:

First to sign is a returnee from last year’s team, second year pro Kevin Lough.  He appeared in 51 games for the Thunder during his rookie season, putting up 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists).  He also made one appearance on a PTO with Binghamton late in the season.

Second is forward Terrence Wallin, who split last season between Adirondack and Rapid City.  After two scoreless appearances with the Thunder in October, he spent the majority of the year with the Rush, picking up 31 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 47 games.

Then there’s the schedule.  It’s a very…interesting one.

Unlike the AHL, where all teams play each other an even number of times at home and on the road, the ECHL has an unbalanced slate.

For example, the Thunder will play the newest ECHL team, Worcester, 12 times.  The Railers go to Glens Falls 7 times, but Adirondack only goes to Massachusetts 5 times.  Same with Manchester: seven trips to New Hampshire, but only 5 home matchups with the Monarchs.

Also unlike the AHL (well, with the exception of the Pennsylvania teams this season), the Thunder will see opponents outside the Northeast corridor, with three Midwestern teams–Quad City, Fort Wayne, and Toledo–being first time opponents.

The longest homestand will be seven games, from November 25th-December 15th.  That follows the longest road trip of the season, a brutal 12 game swing from October 29th-November 24th that sees the Thunder go to 9 different cities.

 

The Next Chapter Begins…Now.

After a two month sabbatical…I’m back.

And we are switching gears.

First, the color scheme…old school black and white.  Kind of like a classic newspaper look.  And topped off with part of the Herb Brooks Miracle on Ice speech (photo taken by me during my trip to Lake Placid last year).

Second…what am I writing about?

Instead of focusing on just one team…I’m taking on five teams.

Five, you ask?

The five teams that are minor league professional in the state of New York: Adirondack, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, and Binghamton.

Yes, I said Binghamton too.  But more on that later.

Since I couldn’t make up my mind on exactly where I wanted to go for the 2017-18 season…why not split it up amongst a few cities and be more objective than just a fan blog?

My goal now is to have a space where the reader can keep up with the teams of New York State.  I have been on a state tourism kick in recent years…I’m probably on the I Love New York site at least once every other week looking for new places to visit.  And…maybe some travel related stories thrown in too, kind of like a fan’s guide to each city.  For those who have known me for awhile, you know how I do my trips…have to hit other spots too!

Obviously, I may be going to certain arenas more often than others due to distance, but I will try my best to cover everyone equally.  I may be a little more in depth with Adirondack due to the Thunder being the closest.  In fact, I plan on a Thunder article before the week is out.

I’m sure you’re asking, but you said over and over again you didn’t want to ever set foot in Binghamton.  Well…I’ve had an epiphany.

You know how there’s 5 stages of grief?  This move saw me go through all of it:

Denial: That was back in January when the rumors first started.  No way.  Why would you leave Albany for a smaller market?

Anger: The initial press conference comments completely set me off.  And even up to a week or so ago, I still was angry about it.

Bargaining: Maybe all those sales pitches I got from other teams were this?

Depression: With every schedule hint and opponent list released, it made me sad not to see Albany listed anywhere.

Acceptance: Finally, after a few days to soul search (and now with the AHL schedule out)…

I’m done with being angry about the situation.  It’s hard to continue to hold a grudge when in reality I don’t have a problem with 90% of the people there, potential players included.  Does it still hurt?  Absolutely.  But…I have made a personal decision to drop the resentment and move on.  What’s done is done, and I may not have to like it, but I have chosen to accept it.  In fact…I may even be willing to go to a game there at some point.  (Which means I may have to delete all those #NotMyDevils tweets now…)

I’m hoping to do at least one article a week, maybe two.  We’ll see how my work/travel schedule and news works out.

Anyway…it’s good to be back in the saddle!