It’s one thing that the Adirondack Thunder had quite a packed week, with four games over a five day stretch. It’s another thing that the team apparently wanted to play more than just 240 minutes worth of regulation hockey.
The Thunder needed overtime in all four of their games, but they would manage to snag 6 out of 8 possible points. This set them up perfectly for a huge weekend to start off March and the stretch run to the playoffs.
Wednesday, 2/21: Worcester 4, Adirondack 3 (SO)
A busy week kicked off at home on Wednesday night, as the Thunder played host to the Railers.
Tomas Sholl would get the nod between the pipes. The lineup had some changes compared to Monday’s win in Brampton:
-Forward Pierre-Luc Mercier was signed to a PTO by Syracuse on Wednesday and joined the Crunch for their game in Buffalo against Rochester, but would not dress.
-Shane Conacher was reassigned to the Thunder by Syracuse earlier in the day after Gabriel Dumont and Matthew Peca returned from Tampa Bay.
-It had appeared that Matthew Spencer had returned to the Crunch after a one game appearance on Tuesday, but he remained on the Thunder roster.
-With injuries to defensemn Mike Bergin and Stephen Johnson, and needing some forward help, the Thunder brought in defenseman Nolan Kaiser from the SPHL’s Huntsville Havoc, and forward Tim Kielich, who played collegiately at SUNY Brockport.
Onto the game action!
It would be new guy Kaiser getting things started for the Thunder. Just hours after flying in from Alabama, he scored his first ECHL goal 3:14 into the contest for a 1-0 Adirondack lead.
Worcester would tie the game up early in the second period on a Yanick Turcotte goal. But, Andrew Radjenovic’s 6th of the season with 1:31 to go in the middle period would put the Thunder back up 2-1.
Early in the third, the Railers would rally to take the lead. Goals by Ben Masella and Jeff Kubiak in a span of 1:20 would turn a 2-1 Thunder lead into a 3-2 Railers lead with 15:38 to go in regulation. But, the pesky Thunder would not go away. On Adirondack’s second power play of the evening, a shot from the corner off the stick of Spencer would turn into his first ECHL goal...and another tie game.
The game would go into overtime, where Adirondack would have to kill off a 4-on-3 situation with 1:15 left in the extra session just to get to the shootout round.
In said shootout, Sholl would give up a goal in round 1 to Barry Almeida, but shut down Matt Lane and Frankie DiChiara. Conacher and James Henry would be unsuccessful in their attempts, but Terrence Wallin’s goal would send things to extra rounds. In Round 4, Brian Ward was unable to connect, but Worcester’s Tommy Kelley would score to give the Railers the extra point.
Sholl finished the night with 27 saves on 30 shots in 65 minutes. Five different Thunder skaters each contributed assists.
3. Andrew Radjenovic (ADK) 1 goal
2. Matthew Spencer (ADK) 1 goal
1. Tommy Kelley (WOR) GW SO goal
Friday, 2/23: Manchester 3, Adirondack 2 (OT)
The Thunder would head east on Friday for their lone road game of the week, visiting first place Manchester.
Only one lineup change from Wednesday: Mercier would return after his one day visit to Syracuse, who released him from his PTO on Thursday.
Much like at home on Wednesday, the Thunder would get off to a quick start in the opening period. Desmond Bergin would score his 11th goal of the season 3:06 in for a 1-0 lead.
The Monarchs would respond 8:12 into the second period. A goal by defenseman Colton Saucerman would tie the game up at one. Manchester would take a 2-1 lead with just under 15 minutes left in regulation on a Matt Schmalz goal.
Again, just like on Wednesday, Adirondack would find a way to tie things up. Ward would get his 22nd goal on a power play with 11:47 remaining for a 2-2 score.
Goal #⃣2⃣2⃣ for our #⃣2⃣2⃣.......and we're tied at 2! pic.twitter.com/UMai6kLgbd— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) February 24, 2018
With 50 seconds remaining in regulation, Ward would take a costly interference penalty. Just 13 seconds into the second straight overtime for the Thunder, Adirondack would end up on the losing end, as Zac Lynch picked up a quick power play goal for a Monarch win.
It was a heartbreaking end for Drew Fielding, who finally appears to be breaking out of a recent cold streak. He would finish the night with 22 saves, including this fantastic stop in the third:
OH MY DREW FIELDING!!! pic.twitter.com/AArWzf8Zl0— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) February 24, 2018
You know what? This GIF doesn’t do it justice. Let’s see the full video.
3. Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman (MAN) 2 assists
2. Colton Saucerman (MAN) 1 goal
1. Zac Lynch (MAN) GW OT goal
Saturday, 2/24: Adirondack 3, Reading 2 (OT)
In front of the biggest crowd in ECHL Adirondack history—5,445, which is about 600 people over seating capacity at the Cool Insuring Arena—the Thunder hosted the Royals on Military Appreciation Night.
Adirondack sported patriotic jerseys for this one, with proceeds from a postgame auction going to the Ben Osborn Memorial Fund. The fund is a local charity named for Cpl. Ben Osborn, a native of nearby Queensbury who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
One big lineup change: for the first time since January 5th, Troy Bourke was back in the lineup, and reunited with Conacher on the top line.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Thunder outshoot Reading 18-7, the hosts would be first on the board in the second. Bergin’s 12th goal, his second in as many games, just 1:47 in would put Adirondack up 1-0.
Chris McCarthy would tie the game up at 1 with a power play goal nearly 5 minutes later. However, Bourke would celebrate his return to the ice with his 4th goal (assisted, of course, by Conacher) with 8:27 remaining in the middle frame for a 2-1 Thunder lead.
V-Cheeky, Troy! Off the Reading skate and in to give us the lead! pic.twitter.com/xUuXKsVhEL— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) February 25, 2018
Early in the third, the Royals would again tie it up, thanks to an unassisted goal by Scott Tanski. And for the third straight game, the Thunder were working overtime.
And as the saying goes, the third time’s a charm.
Almost midway through the extra session, Henry would score his 17th on a breakaway, sending the record crowd home very happy.
And literally, this was the on ice reaction:
Fielding would get his first win since January 30th, also against Reading, and finished with 26 saves—and an assist on the game winner.
3. Troy Bourke (ADK) 1 goal
2. Desmond Bergin (ADK) 1 goal
1. James Henry (ADK) GW OT goal
Sunday, 2/25: Adirondack 3, Wheeling 2 (OT)
Seventeen and a half hours later, the Thunder were back at it to finish off a busy week—and the month of February—with a visit from the Nailers. Sholl would get the start in net, while defenseman Colton White came down from Binghamton. Mathieu Brodeur was also returned to the Thunder after a PTO stint with Utica, but was not in the lineup.
For a team that was playing its fifth game in the last seven days, and its third in the last three, the Thunder would come out flying in the first period with a pair of goals. Mercier would pick up his 14th of the season at the 12:38 mark to open the scoring.
The give-and-go! Mercier and Orszulak combine to open the scoring! pic.twitter.com/9mGhl8Nw3D— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) February 25, 2018
With 3:51 remaining in the opening period, Wallin would get his 18th of the season on a power play to double the Thunder lead.
Terrence Wallin. V-Good. pic.twitter.com/EBYhDVt0Lh— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) February 25, 2018
In the second, the Nailers would absolutely take over the contest, outshooting the Thunder by an insane 24-2 margin. However, Sholl was up to the challenge:
With 20 seconds remaining in the middle period, Wheeling would finally manage to get one past Sholl, as Freddie Tiffels scored to cut the Thunder lead in half.
The Nailers were not done as the third period would get underway. Marcus Basara would tie the game at 2 with 16:12 remaining in regulation. Despite a late power play, the Thunder could not finish Wheeling off, and it was off to overtime for the fourth straight game.
With 52 seconds remaining in the extra session, Bergin would be the hero and score in his third straight contest to finish off a 3-2 Thunder win.
Sholl had another outstanding start in net, stopping 39 of 41 Wheeling shots in just under 65 minutes. Since joining Adirondack from the SPHL on January 24th, he is 5-0-0-1 with a 2.05 GAA and a .939 save percentage in 8 appearances.
More interesting stats: Bourke had an assist, extending his personal point streak to 8 games—which accounts for his full season. He has 4 goals and 10 assists in those games, in a season interrupted twice due to long term injury. One can only imagine what his numbers could have been if he had stayed healthy all year.
3. Freddie Tiffels (WHL) 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Desmond Bergin (ADK) GW OT goal
1. Tomas Sholl (ADK) 39 saves
DELETE: F Pierre-Luc Mercier, signed to PTO by Syracuse 2/21
ADD: F Shane Conacher, reassigned by Syracuse 2/21
ADD: D Nolan Kaiser, signed to SPC 2/21
ADD: F Tim Kielich, signed to SPC 2/21
ADD: F Pierre-Luc Mercier, returned by Syracuse 2/23
ADD: D Colton White, reassigned by Binghamton 2/25
ADD: D Mathieu Brodeur, returned by Utica 2/25
Goals: Brian Ward, 22
Assists: Shane Conacher, 32
Points: James Henry, 45
Plus/Minus: Mathieu Brodeur, +13
Penalty Minutes: Tim Harrison, 81
Wins: Drew Fielding, 13
Goals Against Average: Tomas Sholl, 2.05
Save Percentage: Tomas Sholl, .939
ECHL North Division Standings:
(as of 2/25/18)
- Manchester: 55 GP, 33-17-3-2, 71 points
- Adirondack: 57 GP, 31-20-3-3, 68 points
- Reading: 55 GP, 31-20-4-0, 66 points
- Wheeling: 56 GP, 28-22-6-0, 62 points
- Worcester: 53 GP, 24-22-4-3, 55 points
- Brampton: 54 GP, 20-25-6-3, 49 points
A light two game week to start off the month of March for the Thunder, but both games will be huge. Adirondack will travel to Manchester for a Friday and Saturday night for a two-game showdown against the first place Monarchs. With just 3 points separating the two teams, and with 3rd place Reading just two points behind the Thunder, this could be anyone’s division lead to take.