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.
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.
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.
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.