How about some links for your Sunday as NHL training camps get rolling?
First, up north: an awesome tribute at Cool Insuring Arena on Saturday, as Dallas Stars broadcaster Dave Strader, who began his career as the original voice of the Adirondack Red Wings, was honored with the official renaming of the press box. (The Post Star) (WNYT) (Facebook)
A preview of the newest faces in Rochester, who look to have a resurgence after years of playoff futility. (Let’s Go Amerks)
Looking at prospects in Tampa’s training camp, including a few names you may see in Glens Falls. (Raw Charge)
A couple of A-Devils alumni were factors in New Jersey’s first scrimmage of camp on Saturday. The Devils face Washington at home on Monday to start their preseason slate. (Fire and Ice)
Former Comets coach Travis Green was a winner in his first NHL preseason game, as Vancouver defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. The Canucks and Kings are off to Asia for the NHL China Games, which will take place in Shanghai and Beijing later this week. (Vancouver Canucks)
Finally…look everyone, the Times Union Center is almost done renovating. Too bad they would rather host foam parties and bull riding than house an AHL hockey team. (Times Union)
And more players join the fold in Glens Falls! Let’s get you caught up with the latest.
-On Tuesday, the Thunder and the Atlanta Gladiators pulled off a 1 for 1 rights deal: forward Phil Lane’s rights were sent to Atlanta in exchange for the rights to forward Eric Neiley. Neiley is coming off a career year in his second full pro season–in 61 games, the Pennsylvania native scored 27 goals and added 20 assists. He also made six appearances with Providence, going scoreless.
Lane appeared in just 26 games for the Thunder due to injuries, but was productive in those appearances, scoring 10 times and picking up six assists.
-On Thursday, Adirondack signed forward Tim Harrison, who made his professional debut in Glens Falls late last season. In four games, the native of Duxbury, MA picked up two assists after coming over from Colgate.
Closing out August with three more signings and the preseason schedule!
-The Thunder and Reading Royals will face off in a pair of games in early October. On October 6th, the two teams will face off in Glens Falls at 7 PM. Two days later, it’s off to Reading for a 4 PM Sunday afternoon rematch.
-As for the newest signings…two rookies and a returning vet join the fold:
-Forward Pierre-Luc Mercier joins Adirondack for his first professional season after a four year collegiate career at Bowling Green State. Last season, he appeared in 40 games, scoring 6 goals and assisting on 13 others.
-Defenseman Stephen Johnson will also be starting his pro career in Glens Falls, after finishing four years at SUNY Oswego. He appeared in 27 games in his senior season, picking up 7 goals and 23 assists.
-Finally, defenseman Mike Bergin will return to the Thunder for a third season. He was limited to 27 games last season due to injuries, but managed to get on the scoresheet with 1 goal and 3 assists.
So I took a field trip to Glens Falls on Saturday afternoon…
-On Thursday, the lot outside the entrance to Cool Insuring Arena–which had been known as Civic Center Plaza–was renamed Bill Dineen Way, to honor the former Red Wings coach who passed away in December.
-Forward Brian Ward signed a one year contract on Friday, returning for a second season. A key member of the offense, Ward started the season in Albany’s training camp, joined the Thunder in early October, and would lead Adirondack in goals with 27. He would go on to finish his first full pro season with 49 points in 49 games. He also made 8 appearances with the A-Devils, picking up one assist. Ward was named the ECHL’s CCM Rookie of the Month for March 2017 after picking up 8 goals and 9 assists in 11 contests, including his first career hat trick.
Two big announcements came out this morning during a press conference in Glens Falls:
-First, there’s a new affiliation. Well, make that two new affiliations.
The main affiliate for at least the 2017-18 season will be New Jersey/Binghamton, which marks the first time since 2010-11 that the Devils have a full time ECHL partner (Trenton). New Jersey is no stranger to using Adirondack as a partner–in between AHL stints up north, the then River Rats used the UHL’s IceHawks (later known as the Frostbite) as a feeder team in the early 2000s, with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond the most notable of those players (his first professional season was in 2005-06, the final year the Frostbite called Glens Falls home).
Tampa Bay/Syracuse will take over New Jersey’s unofficial partnership/handshake role. The Lightning/Crunch were in search of a new team after last year’s ECHL affiliate, Kalamazoo, signed an agreement with Vancouver/Utica in July. They had some success last season with one member of last year’s Thunder, as defenseman Mathieu Brodeur turned a PTO stint in early December with Syracuse into an AHL contract, helping the Crunch reach the Calder Cup Finals last June.
-Secondly, Brad Tapper will take over as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, just six days after former coach Cail McLean left the Thunder for an assistant coaching role in Stockton.
Tapper is a former RPI product who spent parts of three seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers before finishing his playing career in Germany. This is his first head coaching job, as he has spent the last six seasons as an assistant in both the ECHL and AHL, including a Kelly Cup championship with the Florida Everblades in 2012. He spent two years as an assistant coach in Chicago with the Wolves before spending last season with the Amerks.
–Let there be ice. I think the Thunder were the first pro team to install their ice for the upcoming season.
-Just before the ice was revealed yesterday afternoon, a fifth Thunder player joined the ranks, and it’s another returnee–forward Austin Orszulak, who joined Adirondack in early March after finishing his collegiate career at American International College in Massachusetts. He appeared in 14 games with the Thunder, scoring three times and picking up four assists. He also appeared in two games during the Kelly Cup playoffs.
-Earlier today, the Post-Star reported that head coach Cail McLean will not return to the Thunder for a third season behind the bench. He amassed a 79-48-9-8 record since the Thunder joined the ECHL prior to the 2015-16 season, and lead Adirondack to playoff berths in both seasons, something a Glens Falls-based team was unable to do since the UHL’s Frostbite in the 2005-06 season.
UPDATE: Per a press release by the Thunder, McLean will be joining Stockton as an assistant coach.
Catching up with the latest from the North Country:
-A third signing was announced on Monday, and it’s another returnee: forward J.C. Campagna re-signs after spending his first 16 professional games with the Thunder at the end of last season. He had previously played his last two seasons at the Canadian collegiate level with St. Thomas University. He scored 10 points ( 4 goals, 6 assists) after joining Adirondack in early March.
-Joining Campagna is forward James Henry, who signed on Thursday. He has spent his entire five year professional career in a Thunder uniform: two with Stockton, the last three with Adirondack. In 65 games last season, he set career highs in goals (20) and assists (34), ranking second in team scoring behind captain Peter MacArthur.