A bonus gameday edition? Yup, a bonus gameday edition.
Because there’s moar transactions!
(Yes, I purposely spelled more that way.)
First, we’ll start with the Return in the title: goaltender Drew Fielding returns to the Thunder for the third straight season, signing a contract on Thursday. Since turning pro following the 2014-15 season after finishing his collegiate career at the University of St. Thomas (a tiny NCAA Division III school in Minnesota), Fielding has become a journeyman goaltender, filling in where needed. In 2015-16, he split 31 games between Adirondack (25) and Brampton (6), going 12-12-4, and making one appearance for the Thunder in the Kelly Cup playoffs that spring, starting the season in Glens Falls, then going to Brampton, then back to Adirondack. Last season, he would start with Reading, but would return to the Thunder for a second stint. Combined he would go 9-6-0 in 17 appearances, and even got a shot as a backup for Providence late in the season. He also spent three games with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers, going 0-2-1. He may be making his 2017-18 debut this weekend, with a 3 in 3 looming (of note, Nick Riopel has played every single minute this season).
With the additions of Fielding, and Colton White and Shane Conacher earlier in the week, room had to be made on the roster. Happy trails and good luck to defenseman Tim Boyle, forward Caleb Cameron, and goaltender Nick Niedert, who were all released. Boyle and Cameron each made their lone appearance in Saturday’s overtime loss in Reading, going scoreless and -1. Niedert was pushed into EBUG duty after Ken Appleby was recalled to Binghamton last Friday.
Adirondack is in the middle of a busy week. The good news is reinforcements are on the way from both affiliates as a 3 in 3 weekend and a 12 game road swing looms.
-First, on the Devils side, rookie defenseman Colton White was reassigned by Binghamton. The 20-year-old made his professional debut on Saturday in a 4-3 loss to Lehigh Valley, going scoreless and a -3. A 2015 4th round draft pick by New Jersey, White also was part of Albany’s taxi squad during the 2016 and 2017 playoff runs.
-Second, on the Lightning/Crunch side, forward Shane Conacher was reassigned. The younger brother of Cory, this Conacher came to Syracuse via a tryout after performing well in Nashville in a preseason rookie tournament, and ended up with an AHL/ECHL deal. He appeared in 2 games for Syracuse going scoreless, but a numbers game is sending him north. The second year pro split last season between Orlando (25 games) and Toronto (3 games) after completing three years at Canisius College.
Just earlier today the brothers were interviewed for CNY Central about playing together…well…
With the additions of White and Conacher, the Thunder now have 14 forwards and 9 defensemen on the roster. After an outstanding opening night, Troy Bourke has missed the last three games, no information available as to why.
After a loss to Greenville last night, the Thunder host Toledo for the first time ever for a pair of games Friday and Saturday, then it’s goodbye Glens Falls for the next 4 weeks, as the epic 12 game road swing begins Sunday afternoon.
Shameless Plug: here’s my weekly Raw Charge column. I’m bringing my old Devil recap concept every Tuesday afternoon! This space will be for any news during the week, such as today for example.
I’ll be back on the AHL beat next week with my first…sigh…Binghamton game in Utica. But I’ll have my weekly column on Inside AHL Hockey every Monday or Tuesday.
I will be in Adirondack on Friday night, my lone game this week (work weekend, complete with a 6 AM shift on Sunday…so yeah not going far).
The ECHL season is finally underway! And it’s been a busy couple of days for Adirondack, as they are 1-0 to start the season.
On Saturday night, in front of 4,021 fans, the Thunder would hold off a third period rally by Brampton and defeat the Beast 5-4. Adirondack would jump out to a 3-1 lead in the first period with goals from Troy Bourke, Eric Neiley, and Ty Loney. Brampton would come back to tie the game in the third twice, but those ties were very short lived, as Bourke and Loney would answer with goals :19 and :36 apart, respectively, to give the Thunder the win. Nick Riopel stopped 32 of 36 shots in picking up the win. J.C. Campagna would add two assists, while five Thunder skaters had one helper each.
Shameless plug alert: I made what seems like a now weekly guest appearance on Raw Charge yesterday with a more indepth recap.
Your Thunder team leaders after Week 1:
Goals: Ty Loney/Troy Bourke (2)
Assists: Ty Loney/J.C. Campagna (2)
Points: Ty Loney (4)
+/-: Ty Loney/J.C. Campagna (+2)
Penalty Minutes: 8 tied with 2
Wins: Nick Riopel (1)
GAA: Nick Riopel (4.00)
Save Percentage: Nick Riopel (.889)
Earlier today, a new player joined the fold, while one moved on: the Thunder signed free agent defenseman Ryan Segalla, who had been in Reading’s camp to start the season. He spent last season with Wheeling, where in 62 games he scored 3 goals and added 8 assists. The Boston native also made one appearance with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, going scoreless.
To make room for Segalla on the roster, defenseman Nick Trecapelli was traded to Indy for future considerations. He did appear in Saturday’s win, amassing 2 penalty minutes.
Coming up this week: the Thunder are back at home on Friday night, as they host Manchester, who knocked Adirondack out in the first round of last year’s Kelly Cup playoffs. Then they travel to Reading on Saturday to face the Royals.
It’s officially Opening Night for the ECHL, as 16 of 27 teams skate for the first time tonight. But we wait one more day before Adirondack takes the ice.
A few roster notes to pass on as we are less than 24 hours away from hockey that counts:
Here is your Thunder Season Opening roster, which was official yesterday afternoon:
Austin Orszulak, J.C. Campagna, Terrence Wallin, James Henry, Paul Rodrigues, Tim Harrison, Pierre-Luc Mercier, Brian Ward, Ty Loney, Eric Neiley, Troy Bourke.
Mike Bergin, Tim Boyle, Kevin Lough, Nick Trecapelli, Desmond Bergin, Conor Riley, Stephen Johnson.
Ken Appleby, Nick Riopel.
Since then, two more players have joined the fold:
-Forward Chris Calnan was assigned to the Thunder by Binghamton hours after the roster was released. The Massachusetts native was signed to an AHL contract by the Devils in late August, but did not appear in Binghamton’s opening night win over Bridgeport. He is beginning his pro career after finishing four years at Boston College, where he was teammates with many Devils in the organization (Miles Wood, Steve Santini, Austin Cangelosi). In his senior season, he appeared in 39 games and put up 6 goals and 10 assists.
-Earlier today, an interesting addition: former Florida Panther Dylan Olsen signed a standard contract. The defenseman last played in 2015-16, splitting time between Portland (47 games) and Florida (8 games). The Calgary native has 124 NHL games under his belt, and 6 seasons in the AHL, including stops in Rockford and San Antonio, making him the most experienced player by far on the Thunder roster.
I will be on hand for the Thunder opener tomorrow, my lone live game this week…stay tuned Sunday for the results!
Well…I made it through my first weekend post-Albany hockey.
But anyway…let’s review how things went around the state as the AHL got underway for real, and the ECHL preseason got started.
We’ll begin up north, where…it wasn’t the greatest of tuneups for the Thunder. On Friday night in Glens Falls, they dropped a 6-2 decision to Reading. Despite outshooting the Royals 15-2 in the first 20 minutes, the Thunder found themselves down 1-0 as the first shot Ken Appleby faced, which didn’t come till 6 minutes into the contest, went into the net courtesy of Chris McCarthy. Austin Orszulak would tie the game up with a power play goal midway through the period. The second period would get off to a nightmarish start for the Thunder special teams–Matt Wilkins would score twice shorthanded in a :35 span off of turnovers to put the Royals up 3-1. J.C. Campagna would cut the lead to 3-2 with a power play goal midway through the middle period, but Reading’s Matt Schmidt would put the game out of reach with two goals in 1:55 for a 5-2 lead. McCarthy would add his second of the night early in the third for the final 6-2 margin. Appleby did not have a very good evening in his first official game action since April, only stopping 14 of 20 shots. Three Thunder players would have one assist each. And of note from Reading: Nolan Zajac, the last of the brothers, had two assists. (Achievement unlocked: seeing all 4 Zajac brothers in at least one game)
Sunday, the Thunder traveled to Pennsylvania looking to rebound from Friday’s loss. The Royals would again jump ahead early, as Adam Schmidt scored his third of the weekend for a 1-0 lead. Reading would double the lead midway through the second on a K.J. Tiefenwerth goal. But the Thunder would cut the lead in half with another power play goal, this time off the stick of Desmond Bergin. The Royals would seal the 3-1 win late in the third with a Matt Wilkins goal. Nick Riopel drew the starting assignment for the Thunder, stopping 23 of 26 shots.
Roster-wise, Adirondack received a third player from Tampa/Syracuse, as forward Troy Bourke was reassigned to the Thunder after appearing in the Crunch’s 3-2 overtime loss to Rochester on Saturday.
On Monday, the Thunder acquired defenseman Nick Trecapelli from Brampton for future considerations. He is about to begin his second pro season after playing collegiately for the University of Guelph. In a combined 41 games with Wichita and Atlanta last season, Trecapelli had 4 goals and 10 assists. He does have some AHL experience, appearing in 7 games with the Binghamton Senators in 2015-16, going scoreless. Also, three players were released from their tryouts: Jack Ceglarski, Evan Neugold, and Mark Petaccio.
The Thunder will kick off the regular season on Saturday night at home against Brampton, my designated Game of the Week for this week.
And now off to Syracuse…
I chose the Crunch home opener against Rochester as my first AHL game of the season. It was a way to see 2 teams that I’m covering at the same time, I got to see two of my favorite former River Rats play live for the first time in years…and of everyone who reached out to me when I discovered I was about to become hockey homeless, the fanbase that knew me in the Salt City were the most supportive. So to me, it was like saying thank you for everything. (And I’m also not ready to set foot in Binghamton just yet. That time will eventually come.)
Pregame ceremonies had a mix of everything…all players suited up escorted a local veteran onto the ice and lined up along the blue line, a hilarious lipsynced opening video (after last year’s collection what else would you expect?), then finally the division and conference championship banners were raised to the rafters of the War Memorial.
The Crunch and Amerks were finishing off an opening weekend home and home series, which started with a 3-1 Rochester win on Friday night. In Saturday’s rematch, the Amerks were first on the board with the first shot ever faced by Crunch rookie goaltender Connor Ingram, a power play goal by C.J. Smith 10:33 into the first. Cory Conacher would tie it up just under six minutes later with his first goal of the season. Early in the second, Kyle Criscuolo would score his first to put Rochester back up by 1. The lead would remain until 8:09 of the third, when Kevin Lynch’s first goal would tie the game up at 2. The game would get to overtime, but it didn’t last very long…Kevin Porter would score 39 seconds after puck drop, giving Rochester the weekend sweep and dropping the Crunch to 0-1-1-0 to start the year. Former Crunch goaltender Adam Wilcox picked up the win in net, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Ingram stopped 15 of 18 Amerk shots, and even had a tripping penalty to boot.
Rochester has only one game on the schedule this week, hosting the Comets on Friday. Syracuse has a 3 in 3 weekend: they host Belleville on Friday and Utica on Saturday, then head down Interstate 81 on Sunday for a matchup with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
As for the other two NY teams…
In the Southern Tier, it was a successful beginning to the Devils new life, as Binghamton defeated Bridgeport 2-1 on Saturday. And All About the Jersey was there to cover it all. I must say, my successors (Jeff and Alicia) are doing amazing work…happy to see I left things in good hands! The B-Devils will head north to Laval this weekend for a pair of games against the Rocket.
Utica started a month long road trip in Toronto, and dropped both games to the Marlies, 3-1 on Saturday and 4-3 on Sunday. Reid Boucher lead all Comet skaters with 3 points on the weekend. Utica will head west on the Thruway this weekend: Rochester on Friday, Syracuse on Saturday.
Two days to go before Adirondack kicks off their preseason schedule! And camp has been busy since Monday:
-Binghamton released all four Thunder invites on Monday from their camp–defensemen Desmond Bergin and Tim Boyle, and forwards Pierre-Luc Mercier and Tim Harrison. Also, goaltender Ken Appleby was officially reassigned to Adirondack earlier this afternoon.
-Syracuse sent their second player to the Thunder, and it’s a familiar name around Glens Falls…forward Ty Loney returns for his second go around with Adirondack. He began last season with the Thunder, scoring 18 goals and assisting on 22 others in 36 games. He also had a 4 game stint with Albany, picking up one assist, then would spend a majority of the second half of the season with Chicago. In 20 games with the Wolves, he scored 4 goals and had 5 assists, earning an AHL contract in the process. He also had three points in 8 Calder Cup playoff games as Chicago got as far as the second round, before bowing out to eventual champion Grand Rapids in 5 games.
-While players are coming down to Adirondack, one is already going up: defenseman Mathieu Brodeur has signed a professional tryout agreement with the Springfield Thunderbirds.
-Finally, a very cool promotion that you will see leaguewide this season:
The ECHL and Marvel have struck a deal that will bring to all 27 teams a Marvel Superhero Night this season. The promotions will feature specialty jerseys, merchandise, character appearances, and more. Adirondack’s designated Super Hero Night falls on their lone home appearance in November, Saturday the 25th, when they host Reading.
Normally, this would be around the time that I would lay out my plans for how I would be covering the regular season, with Opening Night just days away.
But this year…it’s going to be very different. Without just a single team to focus on, and taking on multiple ones, how is the best way for me to do that?
It used to be quite simple: pregamer, live tweeting, weekly recap, and any extra stories in between that couldn’t wait till the next gameday. Now, it looks to be just more on the extra stories front.
AHL-wise, what I’m hoping to do is attending (or attempting to watch on AHL Live) one to two games a week, kind of like a Game of the Week feature.
Not to mention…I’m branching out beyond the blog coverage.
I have accepted a roster spot on a relatively new website, Inside AHL Hockey, as the North Division correspondent (and maybe some New England mixed in as well). I’m not sure how often I’ll be writing over there, likely at least one article a week. Only catch with that is…you have to subscribe to the site to read it. But trust me, it’ll be worth it.
As far as Adirondack goes…I may do more coverage of the Thunder here, such as a weekly recap or any breaking news during the week.
And I had mentioned possibly a few posts about my travels…stay tuned for some venue reviews!
As far as live tweeting games…I’m pretty much retiring from full on tweeting like I used to do with the A-Devils. But there will still be some form of game tweets, depending on where I am.
Any photography by me, which I’ll organize by game or by week, will be over on my Flickr page.
So it may not be what you’re used to reading…but it’s a new beginning. The next chapter is here.