Playing Catchup: Getting The Band Back Together, Part 2

In this edition of Playing Catchup, more player capsules!

So who’s returning from last year’s Thunder?  As of this writing, there are six returnees from last year’s North Division champs.

James Henry

The only holdover from the team’s days in Stockton, Henry returns for his fourth season in Glens Falls, and sixth overall as a Thunder skater.  He would appear in all 72 games for Adirondack last season, with 19 goals and 35 assists, and he was named as an ECHL All Star replacement after an injury to Ty Loney.  He would score two goals and pick up 13 assists in 17 Kelly Cup playoff games.  Henry also became the franchise’s all time leading scorer, and will enter the season with 148 career Adirondack points.

Shane Conacher

Conacher returns for his second full season with the Thunder on an ECHL contract after a huge year offensively.  He would finish 2017-18 as the team’s leading scorer, with 20 goals and 43 assists in 55 games, while on an AHL/ECHL pact with Syracuse.  He would also appear in 10 games for the Crunch, going scoreless.  He played in 7 playoff games with 2 goals, before a leg injury during the second round against Manchester ended his season.

Conor Riley

Back for his third season is Riley, who had a solid second full year.  In 58 games, he scored 5 goals and added 14 assists, while having to play out of his natural position-defense-in several games due to injuries and recalls.  In the postseason, Riley would appear in 13 games with 1 goal and 4 assists.

Blake Thompson

Thompson began his first professional season with Cincinnati, but would come over to the Thunder via a trade in mid-December.  He would appear in 44 games for Adirondack, with one goal and six assists.  He played in 10 playoff games with an additional goal and three assists.

Desmond Bergin

Bergin returns to the Thunder for his second season after a breakout 2017-18 campaign, his second as a pro.  In 65 games, the defenseman would score 15 goals and add 28 assists, then added 7 points in 11 playoff games.  He would also make his AHL debut, skating in two games for Hartford and going scoreless.

Mike Szmatula

Szmatula returns for his first full professional season after joining the Thunder in late March  from the University of Minnesota.  He would pick up two assists in 6 regular season games, then appear in all 17 playoff games, scoring his first pro goal in Game 3 of the first round in Worcester.  He would finish with 5 goals and 3 assists for the postseason.



Playing Catchup: Getting the Band Back Together, Part 1

Let’s continue our catching up series and meet more Thunder signees!

Today, we’re focusing on some of the returning players.

In part one, these three skaters are returning to Glens Falls after spending the 2017-18 season somewhere else:

Peter MacArthur

The first official signing of the 2018 offseason, MacArthur returns to his hometown Thunder after spending last season with the Allen Americans.  He appeared in just 22 games last season, with 5 goals and 8 assists.  In 2016-17, the native of Clifton Park served as Thunder captain and picked up 63 points (24 G, 39 A) in 63 games, then had a goal and an assist in 6 playoff games.

Cullen Bradshaw

Bradshaw returns to the Thunder after spending last season overseas with two different European teams.  The native of Medicine Hat, Alberta, appeared in 20 games for Kallinge/Ronneby IF in Sweden’s Division 1, with 6 goals and 7 assists.  Bradshaw would then appear in 13 games for Brest in France, picking up 5 goals and 4 helpers.  In 2016-17, he appeared in 30 games for Adirondack after starting the season with the SPHL’s Mississippi RiverKings, picking up 24 points (7 goals, 17 assists), then appearing in 5 playoff games with one goal.

Dennis Kravchenko

Kravchenko returns to where his professional career began in 2016-17, after spending last season in Fort Wayne.  The native of California appeared in 50 games for the Komets last season, scoring 19 goals and adding 27 assists.  He would also appear in 11 playoff games, with 2 goals and 6 assists.  Kravchenko spent his rookie season in Glens Falls after two years at UMass-Amherst, and he would become a key member of the offense–in 41 games, he scored 17 goals and assisted on 25 others, then added four goals in 6 playoff games.

Playing Catchup: The Rookie Class

In the latest installment of getting everyone caught up before the season, we’ll introduce you to several first year players the Thunder have brought in for this season.  As of this writing, a total of 4 signees will be starting their professional careers in Glens Falls this fall.  Now for a little background on each of them:

Daniel Perigo, F

Perigo, the second player signed this offseason, comes to the Thunder by way of the University of Waterloo in Canada.  The 24-year-old native of Nova Scotia appeared in 28 games last season for the Warriors, scoring 6 goals and picking up 15 assists.  Prior to attending Waterloo, Perigo played four seasons for the MHL’s Truro Bearcats, and had a brief 6 game appearance for the QMJHL’s PEI Rocket.

Jakob Reichert, F

Reichert, checking in at 6’5″ and 227 pounds, comes to Adirondack after finishing a four year collegiate career with Bowling Green State University, where he was a teammate of former Thunder players Pierre-Luc Mercier and Tomas Sholl.  In 2017-18, the 24-year-old only appeared in seven games for the Falcons, with just one assist, and was named to the WCHA All-Academic team for the third time.

Nikolas Olsson, F

Olsson is a 24-year-old California native who just completed a four year collegiate career at Boston University.  In his senior season, he appeared in 30 games for the Terriers, picking up 3 assists and serving as an assistant captain.  Before joining BU, Olsson spent two years in the U.S. National Development Program, then spent two seasons with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers.

Jake Linhart, D

Linhart, a 22-year-old Wisconsin native, joins the Thunder after finishing four years as a Wisconsin Badger.  In his senior season in 17-18, he appeared in all 37 games, scoring once and adding 12 assists, while serving as an alternate captain.  After his college season ended, he signed an amateur tryout deal with Rochester on March 11th, but would not dress.  Prior to Wisconsin, Linhart spent two seasons with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers.


Playing Catchup: The Coaches

In the first of many “let’s get everyone caught up on the Thunder offseason news” posts, let’s first begin at the top, as the look behind the bench is a lot different than it was last season.

-After a successful head coaching debut that saw his team finish one round shy of the Kelly Cup Finals, Brad Tapper was hired as an assistant coach by the Grand Rapids Griffins in early July.  As the second head coach in ECHL Adirondack history, Tapper finished with a 41-24-3-4 regular season record, and carried a Glens Falls-based franchise to a conference final for the first time since the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings won the Calder Cup in 1992.

-As for Tapper’s replacement, the Thunder did not have to look very far, as associate coach Alex Loh was promoted to head coach and Director of Hockey Operations.  This will be Loh’s first head coaching opportunity after being an assistant with the Thunder since the team moved from Stockton in 2015, moving up to the Associate Coach role last season.  Before joining Adirondack, Loh spent three years with the Portland Pirates on their coaching staff, and has amateur coaching experience at both the high school and college levels.

Recently the new coach became the first guest on the new Thunder podcast, hosted by team broadcaster Evan Pivnick:

-So who would replace Loh as the associate coach?  How about the son of a former Glens Falls coaching legend with an extensive background as a player, coach, and scout?

The name Dineen is very well known in the Glens Falls region, thanks to former legendary Red Wings coach Bill Dineen, whose name now hangs in a banner in the Cool Insuring Arena’s rafters, and the road outside the entrance to the building now bears his name.  His son Pete will now continue the coaching tradition in the North Country as Loh’s associate coach.  The younger Dineen brings quite the resume to the table: 25 years as a professional scout for five different NHL teams, three years as head coach for the IHL’s Houston Aeros in the mid-1990’s, and a 11 year playing career in the AHL, IHL, and NHL.  He was a member of the Adirondack Red Wings’ 1989 Calder Cup champion squad.

As we get closer to training camp, I’ll have player capsules coming up.  So far the Thunder have nine forwards and three defensemen under contract, with six of those players returning to the team, two after a one year layoff.


Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself.

*tap, tap* Testing…1, 2.  This thing on?

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and faithful readers…it’s finally time to reopen The Box.

*blows dust off the lid and creeeeeeak*

Yeah, it’s been awhile.

Once again, I’m doing another retooling here at The Box.  What am I planning this time around?

Well, for starters…we’re going back to what put me on the map in the first place…minor league Devils.  Obviously not Binghamton, but…it’s related to them.

My old A-Devils home is now the new full time home for the boys in Adirondack.  With Tampa Bay deciding to align with Orlando for the next 3 years, I needed another space for my Thunder coverage.

Actually, come to think about it, I may have some Binghamton coverage…but you’ll have to sign up for an Inside AHL Hockey subscription for that (shameless promotion alert!).

But anyway, what should you expect in this space?

Well, the weekly recaps you saw on Raw Charge last season will be a regular feature.  If it wasn’t for the hour commute between my home in Colonie and Glens Falls, I’d do postgame stories.

Also, the here and there news updates…including links for the weekly radio show, comings and goings (since it’s the ECHL, it can be an almost daily occurrence), and other stuff.

And…where to find me for weekend coverage.  Since the last entry, I’m now officially down to one full time job…so more free time to travel!  I already have a calendar of potential games created, so stay tuned for where to find me.

And…the occasional Out of the Box feature.  Actually, I’ll have one coming up on Tuesday, a special date near and dear to me.

Coming up over the next week or so…we have some Thunder news to catch everyone up on.  New coaching staff, 11 players already under contract…and many more to come as we get closer to training camp.

November by the Numbers

It’s the end of November, which means…

Time for the monthly Thunder progress report!

(all stats through November 30th)

Record: 9-8-1-1, 20 points.  4th place in North Division, 8th in Eastern Conference, 15th overall.

Home: 3-3-0-0.  Road: 6-5-1-1.

Individual Leaders:

Top 5 Scorers:

Ty Loney, 20 pts; Shane Conacher, 17 pts; James Henry, 15 pts; 2 tied with 14 pts

Goals: Ty Loney, 12

Assists: Shane Conacher, 14

Plus/Minus: Desmond Bergin, +7

Penalty Minutes: Eric Neiley, 36

Power Play Goals: Ty Loney, 5

Shorthanded Goals: 4 tied with 1

Game Winning Goals: Paul Rodrigues, 2

Shots: Ty Loney, 62

Wins: Nick Riopel, 6

GAA: Nick Riopel, 3.79

Save Percentage: Nick Riopel, .882

Team Statistics:

Attendance: 3,003/game, 23rd.

Penalty Minutes: 243 in 19 games, avg 12.79/game, 21st.

Power Play: 22.0%, 4th.  Penalty Kill: 78.8%, 24th.

Goals For/Game: 3.42, 8th.  Goals Against/Game: 3.58, 22nd.

Shots For/Game: 33.47, 10th.  Shots Against/Game: 31.63, 13th.

ECHL Individual Leaders:

Points: Ty Loney tied for 6th (20)

Goals: Ty Loney 2nd (12)

Power Play Goals: Ty Loney tied for 1st (5)

Losses, Goaltender: Nick Riopel tied for 3rd (6)

Minutes, Goaltender: Nick Riopel 3rd (744)

Rookie Scoring: Pierre-Luc Mercier tied for 6th (14)

And before we kick off the December slate, a few blueline changes:

-With Daniel Walcott getting injured in Wednesday’s Crunch win in Toronto, Mathieu Brodeur is going back to Syracuse on a PTO.  This will be Brodeur’s second PTO of the season, after appearing in 7 games with Springfield to start the year.  Since returning to the Thunder, he has appeared in 12 games, going scoreless with a +1 rating.

-Taking Brodeur’s place on the roster will be rookie defensemen Matthew Spencer, who will be starting his second Thunder stint.  He had appeared in three games during the road trip in early November, going scoreless.  Since returning to the Crunch, he has only appeared in two games, not seeing action since November 24th vs. Wilkes-Barre.

-And one more to add to the blue line: second year pro Vytal Cote has signed a standard contract.  The 22 year old Florida native started the season with the SPHL’s Mississippi Riverkings, appearing in 10 games with 3 goals and 3 assists.  He began his pro career last season with Fayetteville and Evansville of the SPHL, playing in a combined 50 games with 2 goals and 9 assists.

Up North with the Thunder 11/22

Yeah, it’s about time I updated this thing.

With one game to go on the Epic Road Trip–record after 11 games is 6-4-0-1–there have been a couple of changes to the roster:

-First, overnight Friday into Saturday, Adirondack struck a trade with Orlando, sending rookie forward J.C. Campagna to the Solar Bears for forward Andrew Radjenovic.

Radjenovic, a 26-year-old Ontario native, is in his second ECHL season, and already on his third team.  He started the year with Cincinnati, appearing in 10 games and scoring twice, before being acquired by Orlando and not dressing for any games.  He has prior ECHL experience with Bakersfield in 2014-15, with 8 points in 22 games.

Campagna had appeared in 12 games for the Thunder before the trade, with 3 goals and 6 assists.  He already has two assists in 2 games so far for the Solar Bears.

-Earlier today, the first non-Binghamton/Syracuse AHL callup, as forward Brian Ward was signed to a PTO with Utica.  This is Ward’s third AHL team in three seasons, having previously appeared in one game for Charlotte in 2015-16 and 8 games for Albany in 2016-17.

Ward is one of six Adirondack skaters to appear in all 17 games so far.  In those 17 games, he has 5 goals and 6 assists.

Reverse Goalie Swap 11/13

So the current #1 goaltender in the ECHL gets a recall to the AHL.  Sounds like a nice reward for a job well done, right?  Or a “let’s see what you can do at the next level” story?

In this case, a rookie backup gets sent down for the weekend to regain some confidence, plays three games in three days, and turns into a virtual brick wall.

After a three game in three day stretch that saw him give up just four goals–not counting a shootout winner–goaltender Connor Ingram was recalled to Syracuse on Monday.  All he did was go 2-0-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and a .960 save percentage, which currently tops the ECHL among goalies that have played at least 3 games/180 minutes.

Programming alert: tomorrow on my weekly visit to Raw Charge, I’ll have more on Ingram’s weekend, including GIFs!

With Ingram returning to the Crunch, Nick Riopel’s one game stint as backup to Michael Leighton came to an end, and he will return to the Thunder net.

Also recalled to Syracuse: defenseman Matthew Spencer, who also appeared in all 3 Thunder games this weekend as well, going scoreless and +1.  He was paired for most of the weekend with former Crunch defenseman Mathieu Brodeur, incase anyone in Crunchland was wondering.

One other trade I missed from Thursday: a few hours after the Crunch sent down Ingram and Spencer, the Thunder acquired forward Ben Murphy from Norfolk in exchange for defenseman Ryan Segalla.   In 9 games for Norfolk this season, the Massachusetts native has one goal and one assist.  He made his professional debut late in the 2015-16 season with Tulsa after finishing a four year collegiate career at Bowling Green State, where he was a teammate of current Thunder forward Pierre Luc Mercier.  Last season, he appeared in 16 games for Tulsa and 49 games for Norfolk, with a combined 16 goals and 15 assists.  Segalla appeared in 4 games for the Thunder, with 0 goals and 4 assists.

Up North with the Thunder 11/10

Or should I really say, out west with the Thunder, with the road trip still happening.  But anyway, I digress.

There’s going to be a couple of new faces in the Adirondack lineup as they embark on their second three in three weekend of the season:

-On Thursday, Syracuse sent down goaltender Connor Ingram and defenseman Matthew Spencer to the Thunder.  With the Crunch only playing four games in the next 8 days, while Adirondack has 6 games in the same timespan, the plan is for both players to get some extra game action in, much like Colton White did at the end of October with his three game appearance before returning to a regular spot in Binghamton’s lineup.

Ingram has made six appearances for the Crunch thus far, going 1-3-1 with a 3.36 GAA and .860 save percentage.  He last started on Saturday in Laval, taking a 5-2 loss against the Rocket.

Spencer has appeared in just two games for Syracuse thus far, with no points and a -1 rating.  He last played on October 28th in Rochester.

To take Ingram’s spot, Nick Riopel was recalled to the Crunch and  will back up Michael Leighton on Saturday at home against Charlotte.  How long he stays up remains to be seen.

-This may not be the only roster action we’ll see before the weekend is out.  By Sunday at 3:00 PM, all 27 ECHL teams must lower their roster limit from 21 to 20 players.  With a seemingly different Thunder lineup every week so far–27 different players, goaltenders included, have made at least one appearance, with 8 appearing in all 10 games thus far–this will be an interesting decision to see who ends up on the chopping block.

Up North with the Thunder 11/4

A quick update on Adirondack as the Epic Road Trip of 2017 continues:

-One transaction to report: after starting the regular season on a PTO with Springfield, defenseman Mathieu Brodeur officially returned to the Thunder on Friday, joining the team in Indiana.  Brodeur appeared in 7 games for the Thunderbirds, picking up one assist and 17 penalty minutes.  He’ll take over for defenseman Ryan Segalla, who was placed on reserve.

-Remember when the ECHL announced its partnership with Marvel?  Well, the Thunder revealed which jerseys they will be sporting on November 25th.  Here’s a hint:

Naturally, when you’re the Thunder, you get the Thor jerseys, as shown in this ECHL press photo. And they’re not bad.  You’ll have the chance to bid on them via at a later date.