The Adirondack Thunder returned to the States last week on a three-game losing streak after getting swept in Eastern Canada by the Newfoundland Growlers. However, the team buckled down and picked up six of a possible eight points in their four meetings since getting swept, as they beat Reading in a shootout and took both games last weekend at home against Maine. “Yeah, I think our guys have started to figure out a little bit,” said Head Coach Alex Loh after Sunday’s game. “I think the last couple games have been a little more of the formula of what we’re looking for in terms of how we want to play, and especially today in the third period. The last in a four-in-five and just shutting them down was impressive.”
Adirondack is also starting to get healthy, as Ivan Chukarov returned last weekend against Newfoundland and earned himself an assist. “It’s awesome,” he said with a smile. “Sitting out there for three and a half months drove me crazy, but I’m happy to be back out there battling with the boys.” Colin Long returned on Wednesday in Worcester after being out since New Years Eve, and he picked up an assist in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Maine. “It feels good to get back, the veteran said. “The best way to come back is to jump right in to it with a three-in-three in my opinion and it hard on the body jumping in with two feet, and my body felt better with each game.”
Tyler Irvine Plays Hero For Adirondack
This season, the Rivera-Irvine-Grasso line has been the best line for the Thunder, and that stood true on Wednesday night, as that line contributed for five points, however, it was forward Luke Stevens who got the party started, scoring a gorgeous back-hand fore-hand goal to put his team up 1-0 midway through the game’s middle frame. The Royals were finally able to convert on the team’s fourth power play, as Garrett McFadden tied the game on a one-timer, which gave Reading some momentum heading into the third. The energy didn’t last long, as forward Brayden Low was handed a penalty, allowing the Thunder to take advantage wit a power play. That set the stage for Tyler Irvine, who found a rebound off the stick of Nick Rivera, wiring it home to put Adirondack ahead.
The Royals didn’t go away easily, as they came back to score just over five minutes later, tallying two goals in 2:10, which also provided them their first lead of the contest. One of the biggest parts of the game was the special teams, as the Thunder killed off six the seven penalties they took, while Nick Rivera netted the team’s second shorthanded goal on a breakaway to tie the game with less than ten minutes remaining.
Entering 1-0 in both overtime and the shootout entering the matchup, Adirondack took ownership of the extra frame. The Thunder sought out a golden opportunity to win it on the power play, but failed to convert at a critical moment. That aside, they outshot Reading 10-3 in the extra seven minutes.
Tyler Irvine scored in the third round of the shootout, which proved to also be the game-winner. Brandon Kasel stood on his head between the pipes, making 27 saves in 67 minutes and stopping all three shots faced in shootout en route to his fifth win of the season.
Thunder Lose Huge Game Against Railers
Friday March 11th was a loss that hurts the Thunder for multiple reasons, the biggest of them being that they need to start stringing together wins if they want any shot of finding their way into the postseason. Friday was a step in the wrong direction, as they lost 5-4 to the Worcester Railers. The Thunder started the game on the wrong side of the track, as the Railers first shot on goal found the back of the net off the stick of Jordan Smootherman. Adirondack had one of their better nights on the power play, and that’s how they kicked off the scoring, as Jordan Kaplan lit the lamp for his seventh of the regular season. The beginning and ends of periods can be huge momentum shifts, and that was the second period summed up in a nutshell. Worcester broke out flying in the middle frame, as they put up two goals in the first six minutes of the second, and didn’t allow the Thunder to get a shot on net for the first 12+ minutes.
However, once they got a shot on goal, Adirondack changed the pace of play, and for a second time, managed to erase an early deficit. Scoring two goals in just over a minute, Luke Stevens picked up his third of the season, also his second goal in consecutive games. In the third, Worcester played the “Anything you can do, I can do better” game, as they would they tallied two goals in less than two minutes to take a two-goal lead.
Ryan Smith scored his second goal of the night to put the Thunder within one, the last they’d see of the night after failing to score with the two-man advantage. Mareks Mitens, who was optioned from Utica to get some playing time, allowed five goals on 34 shots in the 5-4 losing effort.
Mitens Uses His Mitts To Propel Thunder To Win
The Adirondack Thunder needed a bounce back win on Saturday Night after their loss in Worcester, and that’s exactly what they got, as Mareks Mitens put on a show in the crease, making 43 saves for his team leading ninth win of the season. Like most nights, the Thunder had a solid opening frame, which ended with a bang, as Joe Masonius put the Thunder on the board with a snapshot on a rebound that found its way past Stefanos Lekkas. This gave Adirondack a boost of momentum in the game’s second period. Able to use that to their advantage, Nick Rivera made a break for it down the wing, beating Lekkas five-hole to double the Thunder lead. Despite this, Adirondack struggled to stay out of the box, being handed three penalties.
In the third, that narrative remained true, as the Thunder were dealt another three penalties, while also being outshot 19-3. “Not a huge fan of some of those calls,” said Head Coach Alex Loh. “But it is what it is there. You gotta kill them, and your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender, and he was really good.”
As mentioned, Mareks Mitens was amazing, highlighted by a massive game-saving glove save late in the third to preserve the lead for Adirondack. Mitens has only played 11 games with the Utica Comets this season, and when asked if that affects his game, the backstop said, “Not really, it’s pro hockey. You have to adjust to situations and challenges, and I feel good, and I felt good coming into this weekend and I feel good now.”
Vidmar Scores Hat-Trick on Birthday as Thunder Sink Mariners
The Adirondack Thunder were backed by great goaltending by Mareks Mitens on Saturday, and Alex Sakellaropoulos picked up where he left off on Sunday, making 31 saves for his eighth win of the season. “Yeah, we’re just taking it game-to-game as a team, and we’re approaching it (the final stretch) a lot better,” the backstop said. “It’s kinda desperation for us and we know it, and we’re showing up every night. Guys have been putting in the extra work, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Adirondack had another slow period in Sunday’s opening frame, but it was Joe Masonius who changed that to start a four-goal period against the visiting Mariners, as he received a nice pass in his direction from Patrick Grasso before wiring it in past Lekkas to take the early 1-0 lead.
Maine responded less than two minutes later, as Nick Jermain tipped in a shot from the point that served for a brief time as the tying goal. Marc-Olivier Duquette soon after followed in his footsteps, making no mistake as he fired a bullet on a wide-open net.
For the third straight period, the Mariners were all over the Thunder, but it was Sebastian Vidmar’s goal at the end of the first that knitted the game, making it a 2-2 game headed into the second. “It’s always huge,” the forward said postgame to the media. “I think the first five minutes and the last five minutes, to get a goal in that time frame is huge.”
Speaking to the last two periods on Saturday, and the opening frame on Sunday, Colin Long said, “I never really felt we were in too much danger. I like the compose of us not panicking.” Adirondack took the lead in the second, as Patrick Grasso found an open Jordan Kaplan, who hit a partially open net to pad his team’s lead, one they wouldn’t look back on.
The Thunder enjoyed a very solid second and third period in Sunday’s matinee, as Long connected with Vidmar in front on another power play opportunity, which the winger buried for his second of the game before capping off the birthday hat-trick with an empty net goal.
Adirondack returns to action on Wednesday night, as they finish off a three-game home-and-home on the road against the Maine Mariners. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pmET.