Editor’s note: Why do we cover the Adirondack Thunder? We cover them because they are the unofficial affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Lightning system goaltender Nicola Riopel was lent to them this season; Shane Conacher too. We are also lucky enough to have Trace to report on them for us, so why not?
The Adirondack Thunder faced their first real schedule challenge of the 2017-18 season: a grueling 4 games in 6 days stretch that included a 3-in-3 weekend. Although the offense was there, the defense is learning you can’t just lean on your goaltender alone to do the job. As a result, the Thunder only took 1 out of the 4 games, and now face an extended road trip that won’t see them back on home ice until Thanksgiving weekend.
10/24: Greenville 6, Adirondack 4
The Thunder would start a 3 game homestand with a Tuesday night matchup against the Rangers ECHL affiliate, the Swamp Rabbits. Just 55 seconds into the contest, the Thunder found themselves in a 1-0 hole thanks to a goal by Greenville’s Evan Jasper. The Swamp Rabbits had a chance to double the lead just over three minutes later when Branden Troock was awarded a penalty shot, but goaltender Nick Riopel, making his fourth straight start, would stop it. Greenville eventually did take a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.
The pesky Thunder from last week would come to life in the second period. James Henry’s third goal of the season would cut the Greenville lead in half 9:21 into the middle frame. The visitors would re-establish their two goal cushion less than a minute later thanks to a Dawson Leedahl goal. But Adirondack would tie the game up with goals by Eric Neiley (3rd) and Chris Calnan (1st) 4:22 apart. Leedahl’s second of the period with 2:13 remaining would put the Swamp Rabbits ahead for good.
Greenville would add two goals in the third to go up 6-3. Tim Harrison’s second goal of the season on a late power play would bring Adirondack back to within two, but it was too late. Riopel would stop 27 of 33 Swamp Rabbit shots.
3. Chris Calnan (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Brandon Halverson (GRN) 36 saves
1. Dawson Leedahl (GRN) 2 goals, 1 assist
10/27: Adirondack 5, Toledo 3
It was a different looking Thunder lineup that would take the ice on Friday night as they started off a two game set against Detroit’s ECHL affiliate. For the first time all season, a goaltender not named Nick Riopel was getting the start: newly signed Drew Fielding would get the nod between the pipes. Also, two new faces were added. Forward Shane Conacher, just reassigned from Syracuse, and rookie defenseman Colton White, down from New Jersey/Binghamton, would make their first appearances.
Conacher would make an impact in his debut, scoring his first goal late in the opening period for a 1-0 Thunder lead. After Walleye forward Shane Berschbach would tie the game up early in the second period, Adirondack’s offense would explode in the form of four goals. Brian Ward (1st) and rookie Pierre-Luc Mercier (1st) would score 1:22 apart to jump ahead 3-1. Desmond Bergin would add his second goal of the season halfway through the period for a 4-1 lead. Finally, with 3:26 remaining, Terrence Wallin’s first goal would put Adirondack ahead 5-1. The way things were going, it was expected that the home team was going to coast to another win.
Well...Toledo decided to make things interesting in the third period. The Walleye defense would hold the Thunder to just 3 shots on goal, and they would try to rally. Goals by Simon Denis and Alden Hirschfeld 3:14 apart midway through the final period would cut the Thunder lead to 5-3. But Adirondack would find a way to hold on the rest of the way and get back in the win column. Fielding would get the win in his season debut, stopping 27 of 30 Walleye shots. Thunder forward Eric Neiley would add two assists.
3. Pierre-Luc Mercier (ADK) 1 goal
2. Alden Hirschfield (TOL) 1 goal
1. Shane Conacher (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
10/28: Toledo 4, Adirondack 2
Less than 24 hours later, the Thunder and Walleye would return to the Cool Insuring Arena for the rematch, the last home game for Adirondack until November 25th. Ward would score for the second night in a row 3:19 into the contest to give the Thunder an early 1-0 advantage. Toledo would tie the game at 1 less than 3 minutes later on Kevin Tansey’s second goal of the season.
In the second, the Thunder defense would only allow 6 Walleye shots, but 2 of those shots—late goals by Parker Reno and Tyler Barnes—would put Toledo ahead 3-1. Neiley’s 4th goal just after the third period got underway would bring the Thunder back to within one, but an empty net goal by Connor Crisp late in the game would seal the win for the Walleye. Riopel returned to the Thunder net, stopping 18 of 21. It was not a good outing for special teams, as they gave up two power play goals on 5 opportunities, and went 0-for-7 on the man advantage.
3. Kevin Tansey (TOL) 1 goal
2. Brian Ward (ADK) 1 goal
1. Pat Nagle (TOL) 30 saves
10/29: Reading 9, Adirondack 4
The first game of a 12 game road swing would begin Sunday afternoon in Reading, as the Thunder would face the undefeated Royals.
Now bear in mind as you read on, the Thunder boarded a bus in Glens Falls late Saturday night, traveled south to Pennsylvania (a 5 hour, 300+ mile trek per Google Maps), then had to take the ice for a 4 PM Sunday afternoon faceoff. The first time this happened, back on October 21st, they managed to get a point from an overtime loss after a slow start. This time, well...
In the first, the Royals got two goals in the first 3:47 from Steven Swavely and Ryan Penny for a 2-0 lead. Ty Loney would get the Thunder on the board with a power play goal, his 4th, to cut the lead in half 10 minutes later. A Nolan Zajac goal late in the period would put Reading up 3-1 after the first 20 minutes.
The proverbial wheels would come off in the second. The Royals would score three unanswered goals. Chase Golightly and Penny’s second would give Reading a 5-1 lead 7:50 into the middle period. That fifth goal spelled the end of the afternoon for Riopel, who only stopped 12 of 17 shots, and Fielding would take over between the pipes. The Royal offense would continue, however, as a Derek Whitmore goal would give Reading a 6-1 lead. Wallin’s second goal of the weekend would cut the lead to 4, but before the second was over, a 7th Reading goal by Alex Krushelnyski would put the Thunder behind by 5 after two.
Third period got off a good start for the Thunder, as White picked up his first professional goal 1:35 in to cut the lead to four. But the Royals were not finished with the goal onslaught...Tyler Brown would give Reading a 8-3 lead 5:28 into the period. Penny would finish off the hat trick to go up 9-3. Ward would then score for the third straight game, but there was no overcoming that deficit. Fielding finished with 11 saves on 15 shots. Bergin and Neiley would add two assists each.
The 9 goals allowed were the most by a Thunder team since March 12, 2017, a 9-7 loss at home to Brampton.
3. John Muse (REA) 41 saves
2. Matt Willows (REA) 3 assists
1. Ryan Penny (REA) Hat trick, 1 assist
ADD: D Colton White, reassigned from Binghamton 10/26
ADD: G Drew Fielding, signed to SPC 10/26
ADD: F Shane Conacher, reassigned from Syracuse 10/26
DELETE: G Nick Niedert, released 10/26
DELETE: D Tim Boyle, released 10/26
DELETE: F Caleb Cameron, released 10/26
DELETE: D Colton White, recalled to Binghamton 10/30
Goals: Eric Neiley/Ty Loney, 4
Assists: 3 players tied with 6
Points: Eric Neiley, 10
Plus/Minus: Desmond Bergin, +3
Penalty Minutes: Mike Bergin, 14
Wins: Nick Riopel, 2
Goals Against Average: Drew Fielding, 4.65
Save Percentage: Nick Riopel, .848
(as of October 29th)
- Wheeling: 6 GP, 4-1-1-0, 9 points
- Reading: 4 GP, 4-0-0-0, 8 points
- Worcester: 5 GP, 3-1-1-0, 7 points
- Manchester: 7 GP, 3-3-0-1, 7 points
- Adirondack: 7 GP, 3-3-1-0, 7 points
- Brampton: 7 GP, 1-5-1-0, 3 points
Games 2 and 3 of the 12 game road trip send the Thunder to the Midwest this weekend to start the month of November. On Friday, Adirondack pays a visit to Fort Wayne to face the Komets. Saturday, it’s off to Cincinnati to take on the Cyclones.