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.
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.