Getting Closer…

DSC00055
Daniel Perigo and Jakob Reichert are 2 of 13 Thunder forwards on the opening roster.–Tracey Lake

We are a day away from the beginning of the ECHL regular season.  While 12 teams get started tomorrow, the Thunder will have to wait until Saturday to begin their season in Maine against the expansion Mariners.

Before the games can begin, it’s time to set the season opening roster:

Goaltenders: Colton Phinney, Alex Sakellaropoulos

Defensemen: Desmond Bergin, Matias Cleland, Jake Linhart, Jordan McNaughton, Kelly Summers, Blake Thompson

Forwards: Cullen Bradshaw, Shane Conacher, John Edwardh, Shane Eiserman, James Henry, Dennis Kravchenko, Peter MacArthur, Daniel Perigo, Jakob Reichert, Conor Riley, Matt Salhany, Mike Szmatula, Brian Ward

Reserve: Nikolas Olsson, Michael Sdao

A closer look at the roster:

-11 players have played at least one game in a Thunder uniform.

-3 players are former NHL draft picks.

-7 players have at least one game of AHL experience.

-14 players are U.S. born, representing 10 different states: Massachusetts (3), California (2), New York (2), Rhode Island (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Colorado (1), Wisconsin (1), Illinois (1), and New Jersey (1).

-The rest of the roster are all Canadian born, with 4 from Ontario, 2 from Alberta, and 1 each from Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia.

To get to this roster, the following moves were made once the preseason slate was completed on Saturday:

-Released from camp were forwards Al Graves and Nolan Sheeran, and goaltender Ian Sylves.

-After backing up Cam Johnson in Binghamton–including a brief appearance in Saturday’s opener against Toronto–Colton Phinney returns to the Thunder now that Mackenzie Blackwood is back from traveling with the parent Devils to Europe.

Coverage Schedule:

Only one game on my agenda this weekend, as I will be traveling to Syracuse for their home opener against Charlotte on Saturday.

And if you missed my last two stories for Inside AHL Hockey ($), I recapped Binghamton’s preseason and their opening night win over the Marlies.

Friday Headlines!

Before the weekend begins…let’s catch up on the news of the week!

-Add another rookie to the Thunder ranks, as forward Shane Eisenman was signed on Tuesday.  The native of Massachusetts will begin his professional career after spending 4 years at New Hampshire.  Eisenman appeared in 28 games in his senior season with the Wildcats, picking up 5 goals and 5 assists.  In 120 career collegiate games, he scored 16 goals and assisted on 33 others.  Eisenman is a former Ottawa draft pick, being selected in the 4th round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Senators while playing for Dubuque of the USHL.

-Forward Brian Ward, who has spent the last two seasons with the Thunder, was rewarded on Thursday with an AHL contract, signing with Binghamton.  He lead all Adirondack skaters with 30 goals last season, finishing third on the team with 53 points in 59 games, followed by another 9 points in 17 postseason appearances.  He also had two separate AHL PTOs: one game with Utica, then two games with Providence, where he picked up an assist.  Ward is no stranger to the AHL Devils–he appeared in 8 games with the Albany Devils in 2016-17, picking up one assist.  Since Adirondack extended Ward a qualifying offer during the offseason, his ECHL rights will stay in Glens Falls.

-Now for some promotions to look forward to in the 2018 portion of the Thunder schedule…

Three specialty jerseys: Military Appreciation on October 27th, with a postgame auction; Hockey Fights Type 1 Diabetes Night on November 24th, which will be warmup jerseys available via silent auction; and Marvel Black Panther on December 15th, available by raffle.

December 15th will also be the annual Teddy Bear Toss.

The annual New Year’s Eve home game is also on tap, with a special 2 for $20.19 ticket special.

December 8th features a coat drive, with all donors receiving a ticket to a game in early January, and a post game skate with the team.

Finally, in case you missed my other works recently:

-Over at Raw Charge, I previewed the AHL’s North Division and used my schedule breakdown skills on OrlandoTwice.

-And in my 2018-19 season debut for Inside AHL Hockey ($), a summary of what has happened in Binghamton this summer.

 

 

 

We Can Has A Goalie?

Now that I’m finished introducing every signing so far…there has been a pair of transactions over the past two days, as we get closer to the start of camp:

-On Tuesday, a trade with Maine saw forward Terrence Wallin go from the Thunder to the Mariners, while in exchange Adirondack receives defenseman Matias Cleland.  Cleland is a 24-year-old defenseman who split his first professional season last year between Orlando and Reading.  In a combined 67 games, the Colorado native had 2 goals and 15 assists.  He also appeared in four playoff games for the Royals, going scoreless.  Prior to turning pro, Cleland spent four years at New Hampshire, then made his pro debut with Wheeling late in the 2016-17 season.  Wallin had a breakout season with the Thunder last year, putting up 21 goals and 29 assists in 59 games, and an additional 6 goals and 4 assists in 17 Kelly Cup playoff contests.  He would also make his AHL debut with Binghamton midseason, going scoreless in 4 games.  Wallin is also a co-founder of Major 4 Sports, a website “for fans by athletes” that covers both pro and college sports, along with pieces by former teammates.

-Wednesday, a goaltender has finally joined the Thunder ranks, with the signing of Colton Phinney.  Phinney comes to Glens Falls after splitting his first pro season between Jacksonville and Indy.  He began the year with the IceMen, going 4-8-2 with a 3.25 GAA and .886 save percentage, then would join the Fuel late in the season, making one appearance on March 11th and getting the win against Toledo.  He would also appear in one game for Manitoba, getting the loss.  Prior to last season, the New Jersey native played four years for Princeton.

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.

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 MeiGray.com at a later date.

Up North with the Thunder 9/21

Three days, three signings!  The Adirondack roster is starting to fill in quite nicely.

-First signing of the week: forward Paul Rodrigues.  He comes to the Thunder from Norfolk, where he scored 12 goals and assisted on 20 others in 57 games for the Admirals.  After finishing his collegiate career at SUNY Oswego, the native of Ontario started his pro career splitting time with Pensacola in the SPHL and South Carolina.  He is also the older brother of the Sabres’ Evan Rodrigues.

-Signing #2: After his rights were acquired by the Thunder in exchange for the rights to Phil Lane back on the 5th, Eric Neiley officially came to terms.

-And to finish it off, a big return for Adirondack: after spending a majority of last season with Syracuse during their run to the Calder Cup Finals, defenseman Mathieu Brodeur will return to the Thunder for a third season.  He began last season in Glens Falls, appearing in 15 games with 19 points, before being summoned to the Crunch in early December on a tryout agreement.  That PTO would eventually be replaced by a standard player contract for the remainder of the season.  In 56 games with the Crunch, Brodeur scored 3 goals and picked up 10 assists, then appeared in 22 games during the playoffs, adding one goal and three assists.

Now that we are getting closer to training camp (AHL camps will start opening over the next few days), let’s look at the Thunder roster so far:

Goaltenders: None.  I’m thinking one goalie from each organization–likely Ken Appleby and Nick Riopel–will split time between the pipes.

Defensemen: Mathieu Brodeur, Mike Bergin, Tim Boyle, Stephen Johnson, Kevin Lough, Conor Riley.

Forwards: J.C. Campagna, Tim Harrison, James Henry, Pierre-Luc Mercier, Eric Neiley, Austin Orszulak, Paul Rodrigues, Terrence Wallin, Brian Ward.

Now, in the ECHL, only 16 skaters and 2 goaltenders are eligible to play on any given night, unlike in the AHL and NHL, which use 18 skaters.  Right now Adirondack is at 15, before New Jersey and Tampa Bay even send down any of their prospects.

Once Binghamton and Syracuse release their training camp rosters–no one has yet to be assigned to either city–I may have a better idea of who may possibly join the Thunder come October.