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.

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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 10/25

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).

Weekend Roundup 10/9

The calm before the Thunder in Glens Falls.

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…

Banner raising time!

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.

 

Up North with the Thunder 10/4

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.

Up North with the Thunder 10/1

Lots of news out of Glens Falls as the Thunder prepares to open training camp tomorrow:

Five players have been invited to training camp:

Caleb Cameron: 24-year-old forward attending his first professional camp after four years at R.I.T.

Jack Ceglarski: forward who made his pro debut with the Indy Fuel after finishing his senior year at SUNY Geneseo, appearing in 5 games and going scoreless.

Evan Neugold: center who is entering his second pro season after splitting last season in the SPHL with Columbus and Knoxville.

Nick Niedert: veteran journeyman goaltender who spent last season with Danbury in the FHL.  Since turning pro in 2004, he has played with 25 different teams in 8 different leagues. (If I counted right.  There were a few repeats on his resume.)

Mark Petaccio: second year pro forward who spent last season with four different teams after playing one year collegiately in Canada.

The first official player assignment came Sunday, as goaltender Nic Riopel was reassigned by Tampa Bay to the Thunder.  Riopel is under an AHL contract with Syracuse, and will be entering his second season as the official #3 goaltender on the Crunch depth chart.  The 28-year-old is no stranger to Glens Falls–he started his pro career with the Adirondack Phantoms in the 2009-10 season, making 10 appearances in net and going 4-6-0 with a 3.35 GAA and .893 save percentage.  The former Flyer 5th rounder would appear in 11 games for the Phantoms in 2010-11, but spent a majority of the season in ECHL Greenville.  After spending two seasons overseas, he returned to North America with Norfolk and Rapid City in 2015-16 before spending all of last season with Kalamazoo.  In 32 games for the Wings Riopel went 18-12-1 with a 3.13 GAA and .899 save percentage.

Four Thunder players–Tim Boyle, Pierre-Luc Mercier, Desmond Bergin, and Tim Harrison–are currently in Binghamton’s training camp.  Terrence Wallin was briefly at Crunch camp, but was released before Syracuse began their preseason slate.

For those who missed it…I have made a few guest appearances over on Raw Charge, the Tampa Bay SB Nation blog, educating Tampa/Syracuse fans about their unofficial affiliation:

-Back in August, a brief history of hockey in Glens Falls;

-Over the weekend, a two part series on the Thunder forwards and defensemen.

Finally, a sad note…

Just 15 days after he was honored by having the Cool Insuring Arena press box named for him, Dave Strader lost his battle with cancer earlier today.  A native of Glens Falls, Strader was the original voice of the Adirondack Red Wings in the late 1970s/early 1980s, then later would announce games for several NHL teams before joining NBC.  He was most recently the voice of the Dallas Stars before his diagnosis.