Before we get started on the recap, the story behind the photo that accompanies this post:
Very cool moment between @Riopel_N and a fan over in Section C, called a little kid over and asked if he wanted his stick. Ripple autographed it before he went out for warmups. Got a nice applause from the crowd. Stick taps. Nicely done sir!— Seth Cooper (@Seth_Coop) December 9, 2017
Now that we all had a feel good moment, let’s get to the business at hand.
As the weekend drew near, the Adirondack Thunder found themselves down to four healthy defensemen. Mathieu Brodeur was in Syracuse, Kevin Lough went to the Chicago Wolves on a PTO, and Dylan Olsen was off to Binghamton. A fifth defenseman, Thunder captain Mike Bergin, remained out of action due to injury.
Despite this, the Thunder did manage a split of their two games this weekend. In summary: a season-long losing streak continued, but then a nice rebound occurred on a night when Glens Falls honored one of its own.
Before Friday’s contest, Adirondack did receive two reinforcements: Shane Conacher was sent down from Syracuse, while training camp invitee Evan Neugold was signed from the SPHL’s Knoxville Ice Bears to fill a hole on defense.
12/8: Reading 5, Adirondack 1
The games began with a Friday night matchup against the team that literally has the Thunder’s number. The opponent was the Royals, who had won five straight against Adirondack (seven if you count the two preseason games).
Frustratingly, recent history would repeat itself yet again.
In the first period, the Thunder may have out-shot their visitors 16-11, but would still find themselves in a 3-0 hole. A shorthanded goal by Nolan Zajac on the Thunder’s first power play opportunity 6:59 into the contest would get the rout started. Derek Whitmore would follow that goal with his third of the season 1:20 later, on the Royals’ third shot of the game. Matt Wilkins’ fourth of the season with 2:29 remaining would finish off Nick Riopel’s night early, as he would leave after 20 minutes with just 8 saves.
Drew Fielding would take over in net for the second period, and would be a little more successful, stopping all 10 Royal shots. The Thunder would pepper Reading goaltender Mark Dekanich with 21 more shots, but could not get anything past the veteran netminder.
In the third, Reading would jump ahead 4-0 on a Mark Naclerio goal 39 seconds in. But, the Thunder would finally solve Dekanich less than three minutes later. James Henry would score shorthanded, his 7th of the season, to cut the Reading lead to 4-1.
A shorty from Henry and we're back to within three pic.twitter.com/jwZhaEXfRE— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 9, 2017
Unfortunately, the Thunder just could not get any further offense going despite putting 48 shots on net. The Royals would add an empty netter with 1.4 seconds remaining to seal their sixth straight win over Adirondack.
Fielding would finish his relief stint with 18 saves, while Terrence Wallin was the only other Thunder skater with a point, picking up an assist on Henry’s goal.
3. Derek Whitmore (REA) 1 goal
2. Matt Wilkins (REA) 1 goal, 1 assist
1. Mark Dekanich (REA) 47 saves
12/9: Adirondack 4, Norfolk 2
It was Bill Dineen Night in Glens Falls, as the Thunder hosted the Admirals for the first time this season. The team sported special Red Wings-esque jerseys with Dineen on the back for the evening:
If you recall from my introductory post on Adirondack back in August, when hockey first came to the region in the late 1970s, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate called Glens Falls home. Dineen was the head coach when the Wings won two Calder Cups during the mid-to-late 1980s, and his family, including sons Gord, Peter, and Kevin, settled in the Lake George area. During his six year coaching tenure, he was honored twice as the AHL’s coach of the year. He passed away on December 10, 2016, at the age of 84.
With the pregame ceremonies out of the way, on to the game!
On the heels of a successful relief stint the night before, Fielding would get the nod between the pipes.
In the first, Norfolk would take an early 1-0 lead thanks to a very fluky shorthanded goal. Forward Domenic Alberga went to clear the puck behind Fielding’s net, and the puck itself would pop up over the net and drop just over the goal line, and somehow it counted. Adirondack would tie it up on their second power play of the night, as Henry would score his 8th.
The Bank To Hank!— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 10, 2017
Henry scores for the second straight night to knot this game at one! pic.twitter.com/J8VEp2uN5a
The Thunder would take things over in the second, with two goals in a span of 40 seconds. Brian Ward, in his second game back from being an extra forward in Utica, scored his 6th of the season for a 2-1 lead. Eric Neiley would quickly add his 7th goal for a 3-1 Thunder advantage.
Bergin ➡️ Neiley ➡️ ! pic.twitter.com/TAabkqeSzZ— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 10, 2017
In the third period, the Thunder would add to the lead with Tim Harrison’s third goal of the season 5:07 in for a 4-1 lead.
That's a net front presence for you! pic.twitter.com/6D7tXZfmpA— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 10, 2017
Norfolk’s Brodie Dupont would score a very late goal to finish off the scoring, but it was too little, too late.
Fielding would pick up his third win of the season, stopping 30 of 32 shots. Austin Orszulak and Desmond Bergin would add two assists each.
3. Tim Harrison (ADK) 1 goal 1 assist
2. James Henry (ADK) 1 goal
1. Drew Fielding (ADK) 30 saves
ADD: F Shane Conacher, returned from Syracuse 12/7
ADD: D Evan Neugold, signed 12/8
ADD: F Justin MacDonald, signed 12/10
ADD: G Chris Nell, reassigned from Hartford 12/11
Goals: James Henry, 8
Assists: Shane Conacher, 15
Points: Shane Conacher, 18
Plus/Minus: Desmond Bergin, +5
Penalty Minutes: Eric Neiley, 38
Wins: Nick Riopel, 7
Goals Against Average: Drew Fielding, 3.43
Save Percentage: Drew Fielding, .888
(as of 12/10/17)
- Manchester: 24 GP, 15-7-1-1, 32 pts
- Reading: 23 GP, 13-8-2-0, 28 pts
- Wheeling: 24 GP, 13-9-2-0, 28 pts
- Adirondack: 23 GP, 12-9-1-1, 26 pts
- Brampton: 22 GP, 10-9-1-2, 23 pts
- Worcester: 20 GP, 8-8-2-2, 20 pts
It’s going to be a very busy week for the Thunder, with four games coming up.
On Wednesday and Friday night, Worcester returns to Glens Falls for two games to finish up the Thunder’s 7 game homestand. Adirondack then heads east to central Massachusetts on Saturday to visit the Railers. Then, it’s a quick turnaround on Sunday afternoon, as the Thunder head to Reading to try to break their season long losing streak against the Royals.