Thunder Recap, Week 1: A 6 Pack in New England

It’s been exactly 147 days since we last saw the Adirondack Thunder on the ice for a game that counted.

Saturday, it was time to turn the page and begin a new year, as the Thunder headed north to Maine to start their season against one of the newest members of the league, the Mariners.

And I will say, 2018-19 is off to a very good start.

Adirondack 6, Maine 3

(Author’s note: the ECHL recently gave their website a makeover and…it is the worst to navigate.  Instead of a boxscore, all game updates are broken down by individual performances and comparisons to non-related teams.  The app is still very functional, and I was able to find a link to use for actual boxscores.)

Before we get started with the recap, there was one important piece of pregame news: the leadership group for the Thunder was announced just prior to puck drop.

Replacing the recently retired Mike Bergin as the captain (you can now find Bergin behind the bench of Skidmore College‘s men’s hockey team as an assistant coach) will be James Henry.  Very deserving for the man who has been with the franchise since the move from Stockton.  Peter MacArthur, who had served as captain in 2016-17, and Brian Ward will be the assistants.

Now on to the gameday storylines:

-Saturday marked the regular season head coaching debut for Thunder coach Alex Loh.

-Goaltender Colton Phinney would get the start in net.

-The game marked the first professional hockey game in Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena since the AHL’s Portland Pirates departed for Springfield following the 2015-16 season.

-There would be a few familiar faces in the Mariners’ lineup–former Thunder forward Terrence Wallin, who came over in a trade in September; defenseman Ryan Culkin spent parts of two seasons in Glens Falls with the Flames and Thunder; and backup goaltender Chris Nell appeared in 5 games for the Thunder last season, going 1-3.

It would only take 62 seconds into the season for Adirondack to grab the lead, as Brian Ward did the honors.

However, the Thunder were not done, scoring twice more before the first half of the period was even complete.  Cullen Bradshaw and John Edwardh would each get their first tallies of the season, putting Adirondack ahead 3-0.

Maine would get on the board with 9:31 remaining in the period, as Jason Salvaggio became the answer to a trivia question: the first player in Mariners ECHL history to score a goal.

Culkin would cut the Thunder lead to 3-2 1:31 into the second period with his first goal on the power play.  However, Adirondack would score the next two to break the game open.  In a span of 1:24, Conor Riley would get his first, and Edwardh would pick up his second of the night, to extend the lead to 5-2.  Alex Kile would get Maine back to within two goals at the 7:36 mark of the second.

Shane Conacher would put the exclamation point on the first win of the season with a power play goal with 6:24 remaining.

Phinney would get his first win, stopping 26 of 29 shots.  Edwardh would also have two assists to complete a 4 point night.  Desmond Bergin would also add two assists, and all but four Thunder skaters had at least one point.

3 Stars:

3. Jason Salvaggio (Maine)–1 goal

2. Alex Kile (Maine)–1 goal

  1. John Edwardh (ADK)–2 goals, 2 assists

Video:

(Well, it’s…something.  Although Riley tried in his fight?)

This Week’s Schedule:

The road trip continues north this week, as the Thunder pay a visit to the other newest team in the league, the Newfoundland Growlers.  Under the direction of former Devil Ryane Clowe, the Growlers are 1-1 after a split with Florida.

The two teams will face each other on Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:30 PM EST (remember from the IceCaps days, Newfoundland time is 90 minutes ahead), then Adirondack will return home for their opener on Saturday against Brampton.

Getting Closer…

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Daniel Perigo and Jakob Reichert are 2 of 13 Thunder forwards on the opening roster.–Tracey Lake

We are a day away from the beginning of the ECHL regular season.  While 12 teams get started tomorrow, the Thunder will have to wait until Saturday to begin their season in Maine against the expansion Mariners.

Before the games can begin, it’s time to set the season opening roster:

Goaltenders: Colton Phinney, Alex Sakellaropoulos

Defensemen: Desmond Bergin, Matias Cleland, Jake Linhart, Jordan McNaughton, Kelly Summers, Blake Thompson

Forwards: Cullen Bradshaw, Shane Conacher, John Edwardh, Shane Eiserman, James Henry, Dennis Kravchenko, Peter MacArthur, Daniel Perigo, Jakob Reichert, Conor Riley, Matt Salhany, Mike Szmatula, Brian Ward

Reserve: Nikolas Olsson, Michael Sdao

A closer look at the roster:

-11 players have played at least one game in a Thunder uniform.

-3 players are former NHL draft picks.

-7 players have at least one game of AHL experience.

-14 players are U.S. born, representing 10 different states: Massachusetts (3), California (2), New York (2), Rhode Island (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Colorado (1), Wisconsin (1), Illinois (1), and New Jersey (1).

-The rest of the roster are all Canadian born, with 4 from Ontario, 2 from Alberta, and 1 each from Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia.

To get to this roster, the following moves were made once the preseason slate was completed on Saturday:

-Released from camp were forwards Al Graves and Nolan Sheeran, and goaltender Ian Sylves.

-After backing up Cam Johnson in Binghamton–including a brief appearance in Saturday’s opener against Toronto–Colton Phinney returns to the Thunder now that Mackenzie Blackwood is back from traveling with the parent Devils to Europe.

Coverage Schedule:

Only one game on my agenda this weekend, as I will be traveling to Syracuse for their home opener against Charlotte on Saturday.

And if you missed my last two stories for Inside AHL Hockey ($), I recapped Binghamton’s preseason and their opening night win over the Marlies.

Thunder Preseason Wrap

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Goaltender Ian Sylves is looking to impress at his first pro training camp.–Tracey Lake

On Friday, just three days after training camp opened, the Adirondack Thunder finally got back on ice, as they played their first game since mid-May, a preseason tilt against division rival Reading.

With just seven players returning from last season, and a new coach behind the bench, this was a perfect time to figure out lines and pairing that hopefully will click once the regular season begins.

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New garb for the Thunder, as worn by Shane Conacher.–Tracey Lake

With Colton Phinney still with Binghamton, both goaltenders in camp–former Union netminder Alex Sakellaropoulos and rookie Ian Sylves–were essentially battling for the emergency backup spot should an opening come up (and if you recall from last year…it’s definitely a possibility).

Sakellaropoulos would get the start in Friday’s opener in Glens Falls against the Royals.  Adirondack would get an early advantage after a hit on Thunder defenseman Matt Salhany, who had to leave briefly to get stitched up.  The guilty party, Royals defenseman Ilya Nekolenko, would get a 5 minute major and a game misconduct.  On the ensuing power play, which became a 5 on 3 with another Royal in the box for an earlier call, Shane Conacher would score for the 1-0 Thunder lead.

Reading would tie the game late in the period after former Thunder ATO Bo Pieper would get his first.  He would follow that up with an early second period goal to put the Royals ahead 2-1.  The Thunder would re-tie the game at 2 with just under 13 minutes to go in the period with a goal by Matias Cleland.

After that, the Royals would then score the next four goals.  Forward Josh MacDonald would break the tie with his first of the preseason midway through the period.  In the third, Reading would score three times in a span of 10:30 and jump ahead 6-2 on goals by Shane Walsh, Brayden Low, and Brian Morgan.  Thunder defenseman Jordan McNaughton would cut the Reading lead to the final 6-3 score with 5:39 to go in the contest.

Sakellaropoulos would finish with 31 saves on 37 Reading shots.  All three goal scorers also added one assist each.

On Saturday, the two teams traveled south to Pennsylvania to finish off the two game home and home set.  Sylves, a camp invite from SUNY Buffalo, would get the start.

The teams would exchange goals in the first period.  Reading forward Steven Swavely would get the Royals on the board 2:59 into the contest.  Fresh off returning from Binghamton’s training camp, Brian Ward picked up his first of the preseason five minutes later for a 1-1 contest.

MacDonald would put the Royals back in front 2:09 into the second with his second goal in as many days.  Just over two minutes later, Thunder newcomer Shane Eiserman picked up his first goal to re-tie the game at 2.  Much like the night before, the Royals would then score the next four goals.  First, a goal by Michael Huntebrinker with less than two minutes remaining in the second would put Reading back up 3-2.

In the third, the Royals would score three times in a span of 1:47, as goals by Morgan, Adam Schmidt, and Low would create a 6-2 deficit for the Thunder.  Salhany would score his first with 13:11 remaining to cut the lead to 6-3, but Adirondack could do no more, and they would finish the preseason 0-2 with nearly identical 6-3 losses.

Sylves would finish with 22 saves on 28 shots, while the Thunder could only manage 15 shots, compared to 42 in Friday’s loss.

With preseason completed, Adirondack has the week to prepare for their season opener on Saturday, as they travel to Maine to take on the Mariners.

Open for Business

About a day late on the post, but…camp in Glens Falls is officially underway!

First, the participants.  These include two players sent down by Binghamton on Monday as their camp wrapped up:

Goaltenders: Alex Sakellaropoulos, Ian Sylves (Colton Phinney remains in Binghamton until Mackenzie Blackwood returns from New Jersey’s European trip)

Defensemen: Desmond Bergin, Matias Cleland, Jake Linhart, Jordan McNaughton, Michael Sdao, Blake Thompson, Al Graves

Forwards: Cullen Bradshaw, Shane Conacher, John Edwardh, Shane Eisenman, James Henry, Dennis Kravchenko, Peter MacArthur, Nikolas Olsson, Daniel Perigo, Jakob Reichert, Conor Riley, Matt Salhany, Mike Szmatula, Brian Ward, Nolan Sheeran

Sylves, Graves, and Sheeran are in camp as tryouts.  Ward and Edwardh were reassigned by Binghamton on Monday.  Szmatula and Linhart were also part of Binghamton’s camp as tryouts before they were returned.

Earlier today, a new player joined the Thunder ranks, as defenseman Kelly Summers was signed.  The Ontario native will be making his professional debut after finishing a four year collegiate career at Clarkson.  Last season, he appeared in 40 games, scoring 6 goals and assisting on 24 others.  Summers was a 2014 7th round draft pick by Ottawa prior to joining Clarkson.

The Thunder’s preseason schedule gets underway on Friday night at home against Reading, a 7:00 PM start.  The best part?  FREE ADMISSION!  The two teams will meet again in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Coverage Schedule:

Where you’ll find me this weekend:

Friday: Naturally I’ll be up north for Thunder preseason.

Saturday: I’ll be starting my regular season Inside AHL Hockey duties as I head to Binghamton to cover their home opener against Toronto.