Joe Murdaca Steals The Show Despite Crucial Losses Against Maine Mariners

The Adirondack Thunder dropped both games in a very pivotal North Division weekend series against the Maine Mariners despite earning a point in both games on Friday and Saturday. Goaltender Joe Murdaca stole the show between the pipes for the Thunder after he was signed to a contract on Thursday, making 62 saves over the course of 134 minutes plus two shootouts during the series. “I thought they made a mistake on the scoreboard when I saw 7:00 put up,” Murdaca said after Friday night’s game when asked if OT was seven minutes in the SPHL.

Friday Night

The Adirondack Thunder dropped their eighth straight game on Friday night as they lost 4-3 after a five-round shootout with Maine’s Dillan Fox getting the winner in the fifth round. However, Friday’s game would be the opposite of the past two games for Adirondack whereas the Thunder would be down by two after the first two periods of play. Matt Salhany would give the Thunder some life as he would maneuver his way across the net, getting Connor LaCouvee out of position to make it a 2-1 game.

Szmatuala would tie the game with 5.1 remaining in the third period after getting a great pass from Alex Tongue who was recently acquired from the Florida Everblades. “I don’t know what our record is the last seven or eight games, but not as bad as it looks,” said Thunder forward Mike Szmatuala.

Despite the loss, Friday’s game belonged to 21-year old goaltender Joe Murdaca who was making his ECHL debut after Eamon McAdam was recalled to Binghamton. Murdaca posted a 7-3-0 record with a 2.12 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and three shutouts. “I got the call Tuesday after my game and found out I was starting tonight”. The 21-year old single-handedly kept the Thunder in the game. He would make 34 saves in regulation and OT and would add another four in the shootout. “It was nice seeing a lot of pucks early and helped me get in the groove of things.”

Goals:

First Period: None

Second Period:

MNE: 5:58 Chase (5) from Cammarata

MNE: 17:54 Culkin (5) from Kile

Third Period:

ADK: 2:00 Payne (8) from Henry and Sissons

ADK: 6:42 Salhany (9) from Tonge and Szmatuala

MNE: 15:54 Wallin (11) from Kile (SH)

ADK: 19:54 Szmatuala (9) from Tonge and Sissons

Courtney Phillips/The Puck Authority

Saturday Night

The Adirondack Thunder got off to another hot start on Saturday as they were looking to snap their eight-game losing streak after a loss the night prior on Friday. Adirondack would get on the board a little over six minutes in as captain James Henry would feed Casey-Pierro Zabotel who would take a slap shot and put it past Francois Brassard to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead. Henry was all over the ice the entire game and his line along with Alex Tonge and Mike Szmatuala had a very solid game and is starting to emerge as the Thunder’s top line. Five minutes later, Matt Salhany, Alex Tonge and Mike Szmatuala would play tic-tac-toe with Szmatuala getting the goal in the sequence.

Now, the Thunder have had a problem holding two-goal leads as they have had one in three of their last four games, this including one in Saturday’s game. Maine would respond with two goals in the second as Zach Tolkien would take a shot from the point as Murdaca was screened and never saw the puck. Dylan Fox would score before the period ended to make it a tie game heading into the third period.

Terrance Wallin would give Maine a 3-2 lead three minutes into the third period. The Thunder experienced De Ja Vu as they would once again pull Murdaca with 1:30 left as Casey Pierro-Zabotel would score 0:20 seconds later to tie the game up at three.

Courtney Phillips/The Puck Authority

Overtime and shootouts have not been friendly to Adirondack as the Thunder have lost seven of eight games then have gone past 60 minutes, including Saturday’s match in Glens Falls. This would see Taylor Cammara get the shootout winner in the fifth round after Alex Tonge nearly scored as he hit the top cross bar in the fifth round. Robbie Payne would continue his dominance against Maine as he now has 13 of his 20 points against Maine, including an assist on Saturday night. “It’s nice having a team that you can get a couple points against,” said Payne when talking about his success against the Maine Mariners. Payne had a goal on Friday despite falling to the Mariners 4-3.

Goals:

First Period:

ADK: 6:27 Pierro-Zabotel (12) from Henry

ADK: 11:36 Szmatula (10) from Salhany and Tonge

Second Period:

MNE: 4:46 Tolkinen (4) from Adams-Moisan and Cammarata

MNE: 10:44 Fox (11) from Adams-Moisan and Day

Third Period:

MNE: 3:24 Wallin (12) from Kile and Day (PP)

ADK: 18:50 Pierro-Zabotel (13) from Carrier and Payne

Courtney Phillips/The Puck Authority

Adirondack will head home for the holidays and will be back in action on Thursday night when they head on a road trip to Maine during the week to take on the Mariners at 7:00pm. Coach Alex Loh seemed unsure when he was asked if this is the team he wants for the rest of the season. “It’s hard to make trades when our games are so close together and we also have 14 guys that aren’t here now that were here at the beginning of the season.”

Loh also mentioned that with the games so close to each other, you can’t afford to make trades because you can’t afford to wait for a guy to arrive. It will be interesting to see if Santa brings the Thunder some more wins for Christmas.

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