Adirondack Thunder Year in Review: AHL/ECHL Prospect Wrap-up

With the Crunch and Thunder seasons over, let’s look back on how the Tampa/Syracuse prospects fared up north.

The Adirondack Thunder officially wrapped up their third ECHL season in Glens Falls on Saturday after being eliminated in five games by Florida in the Eastern Conference Finals, ending their first season as an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.

However, thanks to a “handshake deal” with Tampa Bay, the Thunder saw more transactions with the Lightning and Syracuse than with their main partner.

In total, out of the 53 players who skated in at least one contest (that number does not include the cast of many emergency backup goaltenders), 8 players saw time with both the Thunder and Syracuse, for a combined 200 games.  In comparison, 7 players spent time in Adirondack and in Binghamton (and 1, goaltender Ken Appleby, actually got playing time in New Jersey), for a total of 134 games.

Let’s take a look back at the season that was for the eight players—including three goaltenders—that spent time in both Adirondack and Syracuse.

Shane Conacher

2017-18 Adirondack: 55 GP, 20 G, 43 A, 63 Pts

2017-18 Syracuse: 10 G, 0 Pts

In his second professional season, Cory Conacher’s little brother would end up making a name for himself. He led the Thunder in points (63), was one of five Thunder skaters to crack the 20-goal mark, and tied for the team lead in game winning goals with 5.  Before arriving in Glens Falls, he and his brother did get a chance to play in a game together with the Crunch.  Conacher had three goals in seven Kelly Cup playoff games, but a lower body injury during the second round against Manchester ended his season.

Troy Bourke

2017-18 Adirondack: 22 GP, 10 G, 22 A, 32 Pts

2017-18 Syracuse: 6 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt

This was a season of what could have been for Bourke.  After appearing in the Crunch’s Opening Night overtime loss to Rochester, he was loaned to the Thunder, where he would score twice in a win over Brampton in his debut.  Then, he disappeared from the lineup, as shoulder and wrist injuries would sideline him for much of the first half of the season.

He returned to the ice for good in late February, partnering up with Conacher to help form two-thirds of a solid first line for the Thunder.  He returned to Syracuse towards the end of the regular season, scoring his only goal on Thunder teammate Appleby on April 8th against Binghamton.

Bourke appeared in all 7 Crunch playoff games, going scoreless, before returning to Adirondack for the Eastern Conference Finals, where he added four points in 5 games.

Matthew Spencer

2017-18 Adirondack: 14 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 Pts

2017-18 Syracuse: 39 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 Pts

Spencer spent quite a bit of time bouncing back and forth between the Crunch and the Thunder in his first full pro season.  After only appearing in two games for Syracuse in October, he joined the Thunder for a weekend in mid-November during their extended road trip to get some playing time in.

He made the occasional visit to Glens Falls during the second half of the season, with his longest stretch being 5 games in late February, before injuries in Syracuse kept him on the AHL roster for most of the rest of the regular season.  He returned to the Thunder upon the regular season wrapping up in Syracuse, adding a goal and three assists in 15 playoff appearances.

Olivier Mantha

2017-18 Adirondack: 7 GP, 4-2-0, 2.67 GAA, .913 SvPct

2017-18 Syracuse: 1 GP, 0-1-0, 3.01 GAA, .929 SvPct.

One of the newest players to join the pipeline, Mantha arrived in Glens Falls in early March after finishing a four year collegiate career at Alaska-Anchorage.  He impressed in his professional debut, stopping 30 of 31 shots in a road win over Manchester on March 3rd.  With the Thunder goaltending situation in flux, Mantha got the bulk of the work in net during March, going 2-2-0-1 before yielding to Appleby and Mackenzie Blackwood to finish out the Thunder regular season. He did get the win in Brampton in Adirondack’s season finale on April 8th.

Syracuse recalled him for his AHL debut in the the Crunch’s regular season finale on April 14th against Rochester. He stopped 39 of 42 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Amerks.  He returned to the Thunder for the playoffs, where he went 1-2 with a 4.00 GAA in 4 appearances.

Connor Ingram

2017-18 Adirondack: 3 GP, 2-0-0-1, 1.30 GAA, .960 SvPct

2017-18 Syracuse: 35 GP, 20-11-2-4, 2.33 GAA, .914 SvPct.

I’ll bet a lot of you may have forgotten about Ingram’s brief stint with the Thunder in November.  During Adirondack’s extended road trip, Syracuse opted to send Ingram to the Thunder after the rookie netminder started his pro career with just one win in his first six starts.  The three game stretch did wonders for his game: he won 2 out of 3 of those starts, with a shootout loss mixed in, and only gave up four goals on 99 shots over those three games. That performance was enough to earn him ECHL Player of the Week honors before he returned to the Crunch.

Mathieu Brodeur

2017-18 Adirondack: 48 GP, 4 G, 25 A, 29 Pts

2017-18 Syracuse: 4 GP, 0 Pts

Okay, so Brodeur technically isn’t a prospect.  However, considering his history with the Crunch—and he did return to Syracuse this season—we’ll include him in the story.

Before even skating one game with the Thunder this season, the veteran defenseman found himself winning a spot on AHL Springfield’s roster out of training camp.  He stayed with the Thunderbirds for seven games, picking up one assist, before rejoining the Thunder in early November.

He then rejoined the Crunch in December, appearing in four games for the first time since last season, before going back to Adirondack during Christmas week.  The AHL came calling for him again in mid-February, as he spent a week with Utica, picking up one assist in four games.  Upon returning to the Thunder, he appeared in his 500th professional game. He took over the team captaincy during the second round of the playoffs. He also scored the game winning goal in the longest game in Thunder history, a three overtime thriller in Game 6 of the North Division Finals against Manchester. That victory pushed Adirondack to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Ty Loney

2017-18 Adirondack: 32 GP, 19 G, 15 A, 34 Pts

2017-18 Syracuse: 8 GP, 0 Pts

A free agent signee by the Crunch at the start of training camp, Loney started the season with the Thunder. He began the season with a 2 goal, 2 assist effort in an Opening Night win against Brampton, and went on a tear in November, picking up goals in 8 out of 9 games.  After scoring his 13th goal on December 1st, Syracuse recalled him the next day, where all he did was score the game winning shootout goal at home against Belleville.

After a six game stint with Syracuse, he returned to the Thunder and got back on track, including a four point game to start 2018.  After missing about a week due to injury, he returned to the Crunch for two more appearances, then returned to the Thunder in late January.  He scored the game winning goal on January 30th against Reading. The next day he was shipped to Bakersfield, where he finished the season with the Condors, appearing in 12 games and scoring three points.  He was eligible to return to the Thunder for the playoffs, but elected to go home due to the birth of his first child in mid-March.

Nick Riopel

2017-18 Adirondack: 19 GP, 9-9-1, 3.28 GAA, .897 SvPct.

2017-18 Syracuse: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SvPct.

Syracuse’s #3 goaltender to begin the season, Riopel started in Adirondack as half of a planned goaltending tandem with Appleby. After Appleby was recalled to Binghamton, Riopel took over the starting position, but only had three wins in his first 8 starts.

He traded places with Ingram for a weekend in November, then returned to the Thunder in mid-November and split time with Drew Fielding.  He made his final Adirondack start on December 27th, picking up the win against Manchester, before assuming backup duties in Syracuse after Peter Budaj’s injury in Tampa started a goaltending domino effect.  He finally made his Crunch debut in the third period of a 4-2 loss in Utica on January 20th, relieving Ingram.  Just over a week later, he was traded with Loney to Bakersfield. He ended up spending the rest of the regular season in ECHL Wichita, going 6-4-3-2 with a 2.92 GAA and a .907 save percentage in 19 games.