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.
(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. Jason Salvaggio (Maine)–1 goal
2. Alex Kile (Maine)–1 goal
- John Edwardh (ADK)–2 goals, 2 assists
(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.