Welcome to the Kelly Cup Playoffs, everyone!
The Adirondack Thunder began their quest for the Kelly Cup this weekend, playing the first three games of their best of 7 series against the Worcester Railers.
Despite having four players on recall to Syracuse, and only scoring 6 goals, the Thunder find themselves halfway to crossing their first hurdle to Cup glory.
Game 1, Friday, April 13th: Adirondack 3, Worcester 0
Mackenzie Blackwood would get the call in net as the Thunder and Railers began their best of seven playoff series on Friday. With forwards Troy Bourke and Shane Conacher, and defenseman Matthew Spencer up in Syracuse, it was all hands on deck with every available skater in the lineup.
Tim Harrison would put the Thunder on the board 8:58 into the contest with a tip-in past Worcester goaltender Mitch Gillam for a 1-0 lead.
Oh, and Tim...you might want to work on that goal celly.
When you accidentally call her a different name but play it off cool like you did nothing wrong pic.twitter.com/4aBTzmzpzq— xy - Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) April 14, 2018
On the Thunder’s first power play of the evening, Paul Rodrigues would score 51 seconds in for a 2-0 lead.
Brian Ward would put the exclamation point on Game 1 with a goal 5:50 into the third for a 3-0 Thunder lead.
Things would get rather...chippy late in the contest.
Once peace was restored, Blackwood took care of the rest, stopping all 27 Railers shots. Dylan Olsen added two assists, and four others had one helper each.
3. Paul Rodrigues (ADK) 1 goal
2. Tim Harrison (ADK) 1 goal
1. Mackenzie Blackwood (ADK) 27 saves
Game 2, Saturday, April 14th: Worcester 2, Adirondack 0
24 hours later, the series would shift to central Massachusetts for Game 2.
Only one lineup change for the Thunder: Olivier Mantha would join the rest of the Syracuse contingent and make his AHL debut in the Crunch’s regular season finale against Rochester. Nick Niedert, who was in Adirondack’s training camp, would assume backup duties for the Thunder.
After a scoreless first period, the Railers would find their way onto the scoresheet 7:40 into the second, thanks to a Woody Hudson goal. The Thunder, on the other hand, were held to 10 shots through the first two periods.
Barry Almeida would seal the Railer win—and a 1-1 series—with an empty net goal with 46 seconds to go in the third. Adirondack could only manage 14 shots for the contest. Blackwood would finish with 25 saves.
3. Yanick Turcotte (WOR) 1 assist
2. Woody Hudson (WOR) 1 goal
1. Mitch Gillam (WOR) 14 saves
Game 3, Sunday, April 15th: Adirondack 3, Worcester 1
20 hours later, the Thunder and Railers squared off in Game 3.
With the Crunch off until Friday, the reinforcements returned. Conacher, Spencer, and Mantha were back in the lineup, replacing Niedert, Harrison, and Pierre-Luc Mercier.
With the new look lineup, the Thunder were a much different team than the squad on ice in Game 2. Not only did they surpass their shot output in one period—18, compared to 14 for all of Saturday—they managed to get on the board first. Just minutes after a potential goal was disallowed, Ward scored his second goal on the Thunder’s first power play of the day for a 1-0 lead.
Just picking up the trash for the game's first goal! pic.twitter.com/s8S80k7liu— xy - Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) April 15, 2018
Rookie Mike Szmatula would double the Thunder lead 2:48 into the second with his first goal as a professional.
Hi I'm Prison Mike and I snipe low blocker. pic.twitter.com/almgjyWpLr— xy - Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) April 15, 2018
The Railers would cut the lead in half with 13:37 remaining in the second on a Jeff Kubiak goal.
Adirondack would shut the Railers down the rest of the way, and Ryan Schmelzer would seal it with an empty-netter with 13 seconds remaining. Blackwood had another outstanding outing, stopping 27 of 28 Worcester shots. Ward, Olsen, and Kenton Miller each added one assist.
3. Kenton Miller (ADK): 1 assist
2. Jeff Kubiak (WOR): 1 goal
1. Brian Ward (ADK) 1 goal, 1 assist
DELETE: D Matthew Spencer, recalled to Syracuse 4/13
DELETE: F Shane Conacher, recalled to Syracuse 4/13
DELETE: G Olivier Mantha, recalled to Syracuse 4/14
ADD: G Nick Niedert, signed as emergency backup 4/14
ADD: D Matthew Spencer, reassigned by Syracuse 4/15
ADD: F Shane Conacher, reassigned by Syracuse 4/15
ADD: G Olivier Mantha, reassigned by Syracuse 4/15
DELETE: G Nick Niedert, released as emergency backup 4/15
Adirondack will take a 2-1 series lead back to Glens Falls, and will host the Railers in Game 4 on Wednesday and Game 5 on Saturday.