Weekend Wrap: A Beastly Split

In what has become an annual tradition since the move from Stockton, the Thunder opened the home portion of their schedule on Saturday against Brampton.

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Pregame introduction at center ice…–Tracey Lake

And it was a…fiery introduction to this year’s roster.

Once the rink was cleared and the anthems were sung, it was time to get things started.

The Thunder found themselves down 1-0 late in the first after a goal by David Pacan,  Shortly after that, a hit by Brampton’s Jonathan Racine knocked Mike Szmatula out of the game.  The referee may not have called a penalty, but Racine was not about to get away with it unpunished.

Brian Ward taking one for the team.–Tracey Lake

Unfortunately, Ward was given an extra two minutes for instigating, and the Beast capitalized.  Jordan Henry scored on the ensuing power play, and Adirondack found themselves down by two after 20 minutes.

Adirondack got on the board in the second.  Just seconds after leaving the penalty box from serving a hooking penalty, Peter MacArthur scored his first of the season to cut the Beast lead in half.

A too many men call on the Thunder haunted them early in the third, as Jackson Leef scored on the ensuing power play to restore the two goal lead.  Desmond Bergin followed up less than a minute later with his first goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-2.  The Thunder tried late to tie it up, but were unable to get that tying goal, and the Beast escaped with the 3-2 win in front of a sold out crowd.

Alex Sakellaroupoulos took the loss in net, finishing with 18 saves on 21 shots.

Both teams packed up the buses late Saturday night, then headed southwest overnight to Brampton, where the two teams had a rematch on Sunday afternoon.

A few lineup changes for Adirondack in this one: Colton Phinney drew the start, while Alexandre Carrier made his season debut in place of Szmatula.  Rookies Jakob Reichert and Nikolas Olsson slotted in for Shane Eiserman and Matt Salhany.

Jake Linhart got the visitors on the board midway through the opening period with his first professional goal on a power play.  Brampton tied it up with a power play goal of their own less than three minutes later, courtesy of Nathan Todd.  Jackson Leef put the Beast ahead 2-1 early in the second with his third goal of the season.

The Thunder made a comeback early in the third.  In a span of 2:10, Dennis Kravchenko and Ward scored to give Adirondack a 3-2 lead.  The Beast tied the game at 3 with 3:51 remaining in regulation on David Vallorani’s first of the season.

It was on to overtime for the first time this season.  With 40 seconds to go in the extra session, Kravchenko scored his second of the game, earning the Thunder the weekend split with a 4-3 overtime win.

Phinney finished with 23 saves in his second win of the season.  James Henry added three assists.

This Week:

The Thunder return to the CIA for three home games this week.  Wednesday, Worcester visits for the first time since Adirondack eliminated them in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs last spring.  On Friday, Maine makes their first ever appearance.  Saturday, the Railers return on Military Appreciation Night and the first specialty jerseys of the season.

Split in St. John’s

The latest up north after a 2-1 road trip to start the regular season:

-Congratulations are in order for forward John Edwardh, who took the first ECHL Player of the Week honors for this season.  In his lone appearance on Saturday, he put up two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over Maine.

-The first signing of the regular season is a familiar name to both Thunder and A-Devils fans, as forward Alexandre Carrier joins the team.  The Quebec native split last season between Atlanta and Allen, where in a combined 59 games he picked up three goals and nine assists.  Since turning pro in 2011, Carrier has mostly bounced around the ECHL, playing for Trenton, Elmira, Wheeling, Orlando, and Utah.  He spent parts of two seasons with the Albany Devils, appearing in a combined 18 games with no points.  In 2015-16, he appeared in 47 games for the Thunder, with 5 goals, 8 assists, and 108 penalty minutes.

-And a reinforcement has been brought in from Binghamton, as defenseman Tariq Hammond was sent down.  Hammond made the Binghamton roster out of camp, but had yet to make an appearance in a game this season.  Last season, he appeared in 5 games for Binghamton after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Denver, with one assist.

Now to recap the two game set against the expansion Newfoundland Growlers…and it was a tale of two Thunder teams as Adirondack earned the split.

On Tuesday night, the Thunder fell behind early and could not recover, dropping a 7-3 decision.  The Growlers scored on a very early power play 58 seconds into the contest, then doubled their lead 6:05 in on a Brady Ferguson goal.  Peter MacArthur was awarded a penalty shot late in the first, but was denied by Growlers goaltender Michael Garteig. Newfoundland made it 3-0 21 seconds into the second, then Edwardh’s third goal got the Thunder to within 3-1.  After Ferguson’s second goal of the night pushed the Growlers ahead 4-1, Conor Riley scored his second to cut the lead to 4-2.  Newfoundland put the game away late in the period on back to back goals by Sam Babintsev and Ryan Moore for a 6-2 lead, chasing Thunder starter Colton Phinney in favor of Alex Sakellaropoulos.  Shane Conacher’s second goal of the season early in the third brought the Thunder to within 6-3, but Newfoundland scored the extra point with a Scott Pooley goal with 4:29 to go in regulation.

Phinney finished with 20 saves on 26 shots in 40 minutes, while Sakellaropoulos only faced four shots, stopping three.  Four Thunder skaters had one assist each.

In the rematch on Wednesday, with a few lineup changes due to injuries the night before, the Thunder earned the split with a 6-4 win.  Matt Salhany drew into the lineup for the first time this season, and scored twice in the first period.  After the Growlers tied the game at two early in the second, Adirondack scored three unanswered goals in a span of 6:40: Conacher and Riley each picked up their third goals, while Shane Eiserman scored in his professional debut late in the period.  Newfoundland made it a game late in the third, scoring twice to cut the lead to 5-4 with 24 seconds remaining, but Conacher scored into an empty net with 3 seconds on the clock to clinch it.  Sakellaropoulos picked up the win in net, stopping 27 of 31 shots.  Cullen Bradshaw added two assists.

The Thunder return home on Saturday, kicking off a home and home series against Brampton.  The two teams will immediately hop their respective buses after the game and head southwest to Ontario for the rematch on Sunday afternoon.

Weekend Coverage…and I did things…

One live game for me this weekend, and of course it will be the Thunder home opener.

And if you missed my other works this week:

-For Inside AHL Hockey ($), I recapped Binghamton’s week that was and how the Checkers spoiled Syracuse’s home opener.

-And in my first October appearance for Raw Charge, I recapped Orlando’s first two games of the season.

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.