It was back to work after Christmas for the Adirondack Thunder this week, as they had three big divisional games to close out the 2017 portion of their schedule.
With the return of an offensive spark to the lineup for the first time since Opening Night, and despite losing two other key members of the roster, the Thunder managed to close out the calendar year with two out of three wins, and now sit in second place in the ECHL’s North Division.
Wednesday, 12/27: Adirondack 3, Manchester 1
It was back to work for the Thunder on Wednesday night, as they hosted the first place Monarchs for the second Wednesday in a row. The biggest news of the evening would be the return of forward Troy Bourke, who had been out since a huge Opening Night effort due to injury.
Things did not get off to a great start for the Thunder. A roughing call on Ty Loney ten seconds into the contest would turn into a power play goal for Manchester’s David Kolomatis fifteen seconds later, putting the Monarchs ahead 1-0. However, Loney would make up for that call just under a minute and a half later, scoring his 15th goal on a power play (with an assist by Bourke) to tie the game up at 1.
The Bourke ➡️ Loney connection hasn't missed a beat! pic.twitter.com/ZbYxUj8LZ0— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 28, 2017
James Henry would put the Thunder ahead 2-1 about four minutes later with a shorthanded goal, his 9th on the season.
This shortie from Henry put the #ADKThunder on top midway through the first! pic.twitter.com/68O9UTC6ro— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 28, 2017
After a very uneventful second period with no scoring or penalties, the Thunder would get an insurance goal early in the third period. Bourke celebrated his return to the lineup with his third goal to put Adirondack up 3-1.
Loney returns the favor to Bourke two periods later! #ADKThunder lead 3-1! pic.twitter.com/FxcQez7AVr— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 28, 2017
Then things got…physical.
In a span of 1:06 late in the third, three fights would break out. They would result in a combined 72 penalty minutes and early exits for Manchester’s Craig Wyszomirski and Martin Nemcik, due to secondary and continuing altercations, and Adirondack’s Mike Bergin, also for secondary altercation. Bourke would finish off a Gordie Howe hat trick with the third fight.
Lost in all of this was an outstanding night in net for Nick Riopel, who recovered from giving up the early goal and picking up his 9th win with 20 saves on 21 shots. Henry, Loney, Desmond Bergin, and Paul Rodrigues would all add assists.
3. Troy Bourke (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. James Henry (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
1. Nick Riopel (ADK) 20 saves
Side note: you could say Riopel was pumped about the outcome of the contest…
Let's Goooooooooo @Riopel_N! pic.twitter.com/c0nd8khku5— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 28, 2017
Saturday, 12/30: Reading 3, Adirondack 1
It was off to Pennsylvania on Saturday, as the Thunder took on the Royals to start a home and home weekend series.
The lineup for this game would look quite different as compared to Wednesday night: forward Shane Conacher was back in after being sent down by Syracuse on Friday. However, Adirondack would be missing two key players: Riopel was off to Syracuse to back up Connor Ingram with Louis Domingue’s recall to the Lightning, while Eric Neiley had left the team to join the Sheffield Steelers of England’s Elite Ice Hockey League, per the Post-Star.
In the first, Adirondack would grab an early 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by Desmond Bergin, his 7th of the season.
A Desmond in the Rough! We lead 1-0! pic.twitter.com/5fr3ZrZ60C— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 31, 2017
Reading would tie the game at 1 with 45 seconds remaining in the period on a Brian Morgan goal, his second of the season.
In the second period, one incident, followed by a questionable goal, would not work in Adirondack’s favor. Captain Mike Bergin was tossed from the contest after a high hit on Reading’s Adam Schmidt would result in an elbowing major and game misconduct, giving the Royals a five minute power play. Just over a minute into the extended kill, Michael Huntebrinker appeared to kick the puck into the net. Unfortunately, despite Thunder protests, the goal was not reviewed and stood as a good score, putting Reading ahead 2-1.
Should this goal have counted? We’ll let you be the judge here.
December 31, 2017
That call seemed to shift momentum in Reading’s direction, as Huntebrinker would score his second of the game with 8:06 to go in the period to put the Royals up by two.
In the third, Reading would extend their lead to 4-1 as Morgan scored his second goal of the night. The Thunder were not about to go away quietly, though…Terrence Wallin would connect on a power play for his 9th goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-2.
Wallin forces it over the line and we're within two! pic.twitter.com/dNkPBDtRrS— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 31, 2017
After that goal, things would again escalate quickly for the Thunder, much like on Wednesday. In a span of 2:25, Tim Harrison and Jimmy DeVito would drop the gloves not once, but twice—the first attempt at a fight resulted in delay of game calls for both combatants—and a full fledged yard sale would erupt. This resulted in another Thunder defenseman, Vytal Cote, hitting the showers early, and another Adirondack man advantage.
The Thunder would pull goaltender Chris Nell for a 6 on 3 opportunity when Reading was called for hooking just after the extra curriculars, and the strategy paid off. Wallin would score his second goal of the period with 2:47 remaining to cut the Royal lead to 4-3.
Unfortunately, the rally would not be enough. An empty net goal finished off the hat trick for Huntebrinker, resulting in a 5-3 win for Reading.
Nell would finish with 21 saves on 25 shots. Four different Thunder skaters would each have an assist.
3. John Muse (REA) 31 saves
2. Brian Morgan (REA) 2 goals, 1 assist
1. Michael Huntebrinker (REA) 3 goals, 1 assist
Sunday, 12/31: Adirondack 3, Reading 0
As is tradition in Glens Falls, the Thunder would spend New Year’s Eve at home, finishing off a home and home series against the Royals.
Just one second after puck drop, Mike Bergin and Reading’s Scott Tanski dropped the gloves, most likely the response for Bergin’s errant elbowing incident the night before. The captain dropped his opponent quickly, and in turn sent momentum over to the Thunder. Just under two minutes after the fight, Conacher found the back of the net for his 5th goal of the season for a 1-0 Adirondack lead.
Sugar Shaneeeeee pic.twitter.com/iu8d6Eosva— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 31, 2017
In the second, a shot from the stick of Mathieu Brodeur from the corner found its way past Reading goaltender Mark Dekanich, resulting in Brodeur’s first goal of the season to double the Thunder lead.
Bingo! pic.twitter.com/Ljlateu4dE— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) December 31, 2017
Adirondack had a chance to add to their lead with some extended power play time later in the second, but were unable to capitalize. However, in the third, on their fourth man advantage of the night, Henry would score his 10th for a 3-0 lead.
That was all the offense Drew Fielding would need, as he would stop all 29 Royal shots in his fifth win and first shutout of the season. Bourke added two assists, while Brodeur and two others had one helper each.
3. Troy Bourke (ADK) 2 assists
2. Mathieu Brodeur (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
1. Drew Fielding (ADK) 29 saves
DELETE: F Justin MacDonald, released from SPC 12/29
ADD: F Shane Conacher, returned from Syracuse 12/29
DELETE: G Nick Riopel, recalled to Syracuse 12/30
DELETE: F Eric Neiley, suspended by team 12/30
DELETE: F Chris Calnan, retired 12/30
ADD: G Mackenzie Blackwood, reassigned from Binghamton 1/1
Goals: Ty Loney, 15
Assists: Desmond Bergin, 18
Points: 3 tied with 25
Plus/Minus: Mathieu Brodeur/Desmond Bergin, +6
Penalty Minutes: Mike Bergin, 59
Wins: Drew Fielding, 5
Goals Against Average: Drew Fielding, 2.84
Save Percentage: Drew Fielding, .907
(as of 12/31/17)
1. Manchester: 33 GP, 21-10-1-1, 44 points
2. Adirondack: 33 GP, 17-14-1-1, 36 points
3. Reading: 32 GP, 16-14-2-0, 34 points
4. Wheeling: 32 GP, 16-14-2-0, 34 points
5. Brampton: 30 GP, 14-13-1-2, 31 points
6. Worcester: 29 GP, 12-13-2-2, 28 points
It’s a busy four game week to start 2018 for the Thunder, all against division opponents.
In a weird schedule quirk, Manchester visits Glens Falls for the third straight Wednesday. On Friday, Worcester makes their fifth visit in just over a month. A weekend home and home series with Brampton finishes things off. The Thunder will be home Saturday night, then in Brampton Sunday afternoon.