As Forrest Gump once said, life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.
That could also be said about this week for the Adirondack Thunder, as they had a packed 4 game slate against two division rivals.
When the dust finally settled on Sunday night, the team had a 2-2 record, complied during a back and forth affair, a last second heartbreaker, and a season long nemesis that was finally defeated.
12/13: Adirondack 3, Worcester 2
A busy week got started on Wednesday, as the Thunder hosted the Railers in the first of a three-game set.
After a scoreless first, defenseman Conor Riley would put the Thunder on the board first midway through the second period with his first goal of the season.
First of the year from Conor Riley!— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 14, 2017
20 minute hockey game is ahead! pic.twitter.com/nxJHADfbx4
Worcester would answer less than two minutes later, tying the game at 1 on a Kellen Jones tally. Adirondack would then bounce back and take a 2-1 lead on Eric Neiley’s eighth goal of the season.
Once again, the Railers would quickly respond, re-tying the game up at 2 on T.J. Syner’s third of the year.
In the third, Terrence Wallin would put Adirondack ahead for good with his 7th of the season, breaking the tie 5:03 into the third for a 3-2 Thunder margin.
Terrence Wallin's Shot. V-Good. pic.twitter.com/BDRRv15MZL— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 14, 2017
Drew Fielding would take care of the rest in net, stopping 29 of 31 Railer shots. Andrew Radjenovic added two assists, while Riley and two other skaters had one helper each.
3. Kellen Jones (WOR) 1 goal
2. Andrew Radjenovic (ADR) 2 assists
1. Conor Riley (ADR) 1 goal, 1 assist
12/15: Worcester 4, Adirondack 3
Newcomer Chris Nell would get the call between the pipes in the rematch on Friday, finishing off a seven game homestand.
The visitors would take the early edge in the first period, as Mike Cornell’s 2nd of the season 7:34 into the game would put the Railers ahead 1-0.
The Thunder would finally respond early in the second period, as Neiley scored his 9th goal 28 seconds in to tie the game at one.
Eric!— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 16, 2017
Top and we're all tied at one! pic.twitter.com/KzD1zz7q3C
Brian Ward would put Adirondack ahead 2-1 just as the middle period was ending with his 7th goal of the year.
Worcester would jump ahead 3-2 less than 5 minutes into the third period on goals by Patrick McNally and Woody Hudson. But the Thunder were not ready to quit just yet, as Ben Murphy’s 3rd of the season would tie the game at 3 with 14:20 remaining in regulation.
Big Ben and we're tied again! pic.twitter.com/qqyBzmUlVQ— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 16, 2017
Just as it looked like the game was heading to overtime, a heartbreaker: McNally’s second goal of the night with just 25 seconds to go would prove to be the game winner, as the Railers would take it 4-3.
Nell was quite busy in his Thunder debut, stopping 36 of 40 shots. Four Adirondack skaters had one assist each, with Neiley pulling off a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. He had a fight with Worcester’s Kyle McKenzie late in the third period.
3. Eric Neiley (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Brian Ward (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
1. Patrick McNally (WOR) 2 goals, 1 assist
Saturday, 12/16: Worcester 5, Adirondack 1
To finish off the three-game series with Worcester, Adirondack headed east to central Massachusetts on Saturday. Nick Riopel was back between the pipes after getting a week off.
In the opening period, McNally would strike again with 4:31 remaining, getting his third goal in two days to give the Railers a 1-0 advantage.
Second period was all Worcester, as they would put up 3 goals on Riopel and outshoot the Thunder 20-7. In a span of 5:30 midway through the period, Hudson, Chris Langkow, and McNally would all connect for a commanding 4-0 Railer lead.
Adirondack would finally get on the scoresheet 1:08 into the third period, as Desmond Bergin would pick up his 5th goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-1.
Goal awarded to Desmond Bergin. Either Way..........THERE'S ONE! pic.twitter.com/Vc0s8ZLb7E— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 17, 2017
But, the Thunder was unable to generate any more offense against the Railers, and an empty net goal by Langkow shorthanded would finish off Adirondack’s second straight loss.
Riopel finished the evening with 39 saves on 43 shots. Brian Ward would have the lone assist on Bergin’s goal. As for special teams, the Thunder did not have a single penalty called on them, but they would finish 0 for 4 on the power play.
3. Mike Cornell (WOR) 2 assists
2. Frankie DiChiara (WOR) 3 assists
1. Patrick McNally (WOR) 2 goals, 1 assist
Sunday, 12/17: Adirondack 6, Reading 2
To finish off the week, the Thunder would have to travel approximately 5 hours west from Worcester to Reading, where they would face a team that they had yet to defeat this season in the Royals.
For a team that had to travel all night, and be ready for a 4:00 afternoon start, Adirondack would start out with a bang in the first period. Terrence Wallin got the Thunder on the board 6:20 into the opening period with his 8th goal of the season.
Conacher ⏩ Wallin and.................we lead in Reading! pic.twitter.com/mqFcRAWcbC— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 17, 2017
Shane Conacher would double the Thunder lead just under five minutes later with his 4th goal.
Eric Neiley would then score his 10th on a late power play for a 3-0 advantage through one period, chasing Reading starting goaltender Tyler Parks out of the game in favor of Mark Dekanich.
Reading would cut the lead to 3-1 7:02 into the second period on a goal by Adam Schmidt. But, Conor Riley would answer just over 6 minutes later with his second goal of the week for a 4-1 Thunder lead.
Early in the third, a power play goal by Ben Murphy, his 4th of the season, would give Adirondack a 5-1 advantage.
⛱️ Passing!— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 17, 2017
Murphy wires the one timer home and we lead by 4! pic.twitter.com/xvPZvrWX1V
Reading would respond with a Derek Whitmore goal to cut the lead to 5-2, but a Paul Rodrigues empty netter with 45 seconds left in the contest would seal Adirondack’s first win over the Royals in nine games, including preseason.
Chris Nell would pick up his first Adirondack win, stopping 35 of 37 shots. Pierre-Luc Mercier added three assists, Conacher also had two helpers, and six other Thunder skaters contributed one assist.
3. Conor Riley (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Pierre-Luc Mercier (ADK) 3 assists
1. Shane Conacher (ADK) 1 goal, 2 assists
ADD: D Blake Thompson, acquired from Cincinnati 12/13
ADD: D Travis Armstrong, signed to SPC 12/13
ADD: F Ty Loney, reassigned from Syracuse 12/17
DELETE: F Shane Conacher, recalled to Syracuse 12/18
Goals: Ty Loney, 13
Assists: Shane Conacher, 17
Points: Ty Loney/Shane Conacher, 21
Plus/Minus: Blake Thompson, +5
Penalty Minutes: Eric Neiley, 48
Wins: Nick Riopel, 7
Goals Against Average: Chris Nell, 3.01
Save Percentage: Chris Nell, .922
(as of 12/17/17)
1. Manchester: 27 GP, 16-9-1-1, 34 points
2. Wheeling: 27 GP, 15-10-2-0, 32 points
3. Reading: 26 GP, 14-10-2-0, 30 points
4. Adirondack: 27 GP, 14-11-1-1, 30 points
5. Brampton: 25 GP, 12-10-1-2, 27 points
6. Worcester: 23 GP, 10-9-2-2, 24 points
It’s another busy week leading up to Christmas for the Thunder.
Wednesday night, Adirondack hosts first place Manchester. Then, two more matchups—and a chance at redemption—against Worcester, on the road Friday and in Glens Falls on Saturday.