Coming off a huge win on Sunday in Reading, a win that coach Brad Tapper characterized as “like winning the Cup,” the Adirondack Thunder hoped to carry that momentum through to the Christmas break.
However, despite receiving two key players back from Syracuse, it was a struggle for Adirondack this week. They only managed to win one out of three games against two North Division rivals.
Wednesday, 12/20: Manchester 4, Adirondack 2
To start the week, the Thunder welcomed first place Manchester to the Cool Insuring Arena on Wednesday night. Chris Nell would get the start in net, and Ty Loney would make his first appearance since returning from Syracuse on Sunday.
Speaking of...guess who would score 7:13 into the opening period? Loney’s 14th of the season would give the Thunder an early 1-0 lead.
The Monarchs were quick to respond in the second, with two goals in a span of 2:11 early in the frame to jump ahead 2-1. Adirondack would then re-tie the game at 2 with 4:46 remaining in the period, thanks to Pierre-Luc Mercier’s 7th goal of the season.
Neiley ▶️ Mercier got us our second! pic.twitter.com/UtMZ7KnNsC— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 21, 2017
Manchester would retake the one goal lead with 1:42 remaining in the period off a goal from Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman.
In the third, the Thunder would put 12 shots on net, but simply could not get the tying goal. An empty-netter from Manchester’s Matt Leitner with 1:10 remaining would seal the win for the Monarchs. On the same play, Loney would be assessed a game misconduct for “throwing equipment,” per the officials.
Nell would stop 20 of 23 shots in defeat, while Eric Neiley and Terrence Wallin would each contribute one assist.
3. Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman (MAN) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Ty Loney (ADR) 1 goal
1. Zac Lynch (MAN) 1 goal, 1 assist
Friday, 12/22: Adirondack 3, Worcester 0
It was back to central Massachusetts for the second time in 6 days, as the Thunder kicked off another home and home series with the Worcester Railers.
Adirondack would have to play this one without Loney. Remember the game misconduct he received on Wednesday? The ECHL would suspend him for one game as a result, meaning he would have to sit this one out.
The first two periods were dominated by the goaltenders, as Nick Riopel and Worcester’s Mitch Gillam had a classic duel. A combined 51 saves on 51 shots—33 for Riopel, 18 for Gillam—would keep the game knotted at zero after 40 minutes.
In the third period, on the Thunder’s second power play opportunity, Mercier would finally break the scoreless drought with his 8th goal of the season for a 1-0 Adirondack advantage.
Conor Riley would double the Thunder lead just under six minutes later with his third goal of the season.
When you get that big insurance goal pic.twitter.com/bvZmhxq8mA— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 23, 2017
Finally, the exclamation point: Tim Harrison’s 4th goal of the year on a breakaway with 5:04 remaining would put Adirondack ahead 3-0.
Then, in the last 1:52 of the contest, things would escalate very quickly. A total of 46 penalty minutes—37 of those on the Railers—would be handed out as the result of a line brawl and a shot off the stick of Justin Hamonic that would strike Riley in the back as time expired.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all the extra curriculars, Riopel played his best game in a Thunder uniform. He would stop all 44 Railers shots in his first shutout of the season. Mercier and three other Thunder skaters would each add one assist.
3. Conor Riley (ADK) 1 goal
2. Pierre-Luc Mercier (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist\
1. Nick Riopel (ADK) SHO, 44 saves
Saturday, 12/23: Worcester 5, Adirondack 3
So...what would the Thunder and the Railers do for an encore performance on Saturday, this time in Glens Falls?
Adirondack would not only get Loney back, but also got a boost on defense—Mathieu Brodeur was released from his PTO in Syracuse earlier in the day, and jumped right back into the Thunder lineup.
In the first period, the shots would be even at 14, but Worcester would put up three goals on Nell in the first twenty minutes. In a span of 38 seconds late in the opening frame, Matt Lane and Woody Hudson would score for a 2-0 Railers lead. Chris Langkow would add a shorthanded penalty shot goal with 1:05 remaining, putting Worcester up 3-0 after one period.
Adirondack shook things up in an attempt to get going in the second. Riopel came in to replace Nell, and two of the previous night’s combatants, Vytal Cote and Yanick Turcotte, would have a spirited fight. It looked as if the plan had worked...Paul Rodrigues would pick up his fourth goal of the year 5:03 into the period to cut the Railers lead to 3-1.
That whole thing about momentum shifting? It lasted about three minutes, as Worcester regained a 4-1 lead on a Barry Almeida goal.
Midway through the third period, while on the Thunder’s third power play, Tapper decided to take a risk and pull Riopel in favor of a 6 on 4 situation. That would end up backfiring on him, as Thunder killer Patrick McNally would get the shorthanded empty net tally, giving Worcester a 5-1 lead.
Adirondack was not about to go away just yet, as they tried to chip away at the four goal deficit. Less than two minutes after the empty netter, Ben Murphy would score his 5th to cut the lead to 3. Desmond Bergin would add his sixth goal with 1:19 remaining to get to within two, but that’s all the Thunder could do.
Nell would stop 11 of 14 shots in 20 minutes of work, while Riopel was saddled with the loss after stopping 14 of 15 over the final two periods. Riley would add two assists, while Murphy, Bergin, and two others had one assist each.
3. Ben Murphy (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Chris Langkow (WOR) 1 goal, 1 assist
- Eamon McAda-m (WOR) 34 saves
DELETE: G Drew Fielding, signed PTO with Toronto 12/22
ADD: D Mathieu Brodeur, released from PTO with Syracuse 12/23
ADD: G Drew -Fielding, released from PTO with Toronto 12/23
Goals: Ty Loney, 14
Assists: Pierre-Luc Mercier, 15
Points: Pierre-Luc Mercier, 23
Plus/Minus: Blake Thompson, +3
Penalty Minutes: Eric Neiley, 50
Wins: Nick Riopel, 8
Goals Against Average: Drew Fielding, 3.23
Save Percentage: 3 tied with .895
(as of 12/24/17)
- Manchester: 30 GP, 19-9-1-1, 40 points
- Wheeling: 29 GP, 16-11-2-0, 34 points
- Adirondack: 30 GP, 15-13-1-1, 32 points
- Reading: 29 GP, 14-13-2-0, 30 points
- Brampton: 27 GP, 13-11-1-2, 29 points
- Worcester: 26 GP, 12-10-2-2, 28 points
After three days off for Christmas, the Thunder get back to work with 3 more games to close out the 2017 portion of the schedule.
Wednesday, Manchester returns to Glens Falls for the third midweek match-up in a row.
Saturday, the Thunder travel to Reading to start a home and home series with the Royals, then return home on New Year’s Eve to finish the two game set.