The Adirondack Thunder have been playing okay hockey for the first 21 games of their season, but the last two games, it seems like they have recently hit a turning point. Last weekend, they played a three-game series with the Brampton Beast, a team that they have had trouble with all season. Adirondack would host the first two games which would see them getting defeated in both games and being out-scored 12-2 over those two games.
To put it nicely, things weren’t looking great for Adirondack as they would have to travel to Brampton on Saturday night to play the next day at 4:00pmET. This would be the turning point for the Adirondack Thunder.
The Thunder would end up winning on Sunday afternoon against Brampton in overtime, a team that they have only beat twice in six total meetings so far this season. The momentum from Sunday’s OT win carried onto Wednesday when they would beat the Toledo Walleye, who before the game, had a record of 11-6-0-1 and sat in third place in the Central Division.
After 22 games played, Adirondack owns a record of 11-9-0-2 which is good for fourth in the North Division, three points behind the Brampton Beast.
What’s Gone Wrong Up To This Point
So if we wanna figure out what’s gone wrong for the Thunder, look no further than the power play. The Thunder have gone an abysmal 7/81 this season when they have the man advantage. Power plays are momentum builders and Adirondack is throwing these opportunities away. Yes, there are times where they get a few chances, but most of the time, they are looking for the perfect pass instead of getting that puck on net and the puck always finds a way to be cleared by the opposing team. In an interview earlier this year with Alex Loh, he said it should start clicking soon. Let’s hope he’s right.
The other thing that hasn’t gone the Thunder’s way is the abilty to win conseuctive games. It’s a tough division and a .500 record isn’t going to earn you a playoff spot. The Thunder have been racking up some consecutive wins lately, so I expect the issue to resolve itself in the near future.
Adirondack’s Three Key Players Moving Forward
The Laval Rocket announced on Thursday that they have recalled Hayden Verbeek from the Adirondack Thunder. Verbeek had five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 21 games played this year. He’s currently leading the Thunder in a pair of categories with both points and assists. This will be a huge loss for Adirondack moving forward. With Verbeek gone, let’s take a look a three key players for the Thunder moving forward.
14 appearances: 6-6-0-1, 3.25 GAA, .894 SV%
If the Thunder want to once again find a way to get into the Kelly Cup Playoffs, they are going to have to start getting quality starts from Eamon McAdam. McAdam has struggled all year for the Thunder and may have turned a corner after getting the win in his past two appearances for the team moving forward. There is no question that he has the trust of head coach Alex Loh who’s continued to go back to him even when he’s struggling.
The back-up role this season has been split between Chris Nell, who was traded to the Florida Everglades today, and Evan Cormier who was just reassigned to Adirondack by the Binghamton Devils.
6G, 3A, 9p in 15 games.
This one may come as a surprise, but with Verbeek gone, this may be the time for Szmatuala to start lighting it up for the Thunder. Szmatuala joined the team a little late this season, but has started to be an impact player for the Thunder just like he was like last year when he led the Thunder in scoring. In only 15 games this season, Szmatuala is tied for second in goals with six.
He has been a healthy scratch every once in a while, but now with Verbeek is Laval, Szmatuala should be in the lineup for every game in foreseeable future for the Thunder.
8G, 4A, 12P in 22 games.
To round out the three key players for Adirondack, you can’t forget Casey Pierro-Zabotel who is quietly leading the team with eight goals on the season. Not only is he a key player during five-on-five, but he’s been an important piece to the penalty kill for the Thunder this season. He’s almost making the most of his size and finding ways to contribute offensively for Adirondack.
Pierro-Zabotel seems to play his best when he’s at Cool Insuring Arena and with Adirondack playing four of their next five at home, expect him to continue to find the back of the net for the Thunder.
What’s Ahead For Adirondack
The Thunder have a very tough schedule ahead of them after next week. They will play the Maine Mariners three times before welcoming the Allen Americans to town for two games. The Americans are currently in first place in the ECHL.
Following that, Adirondack will play two games in Newfoundland who currently leads the North Division this season. This will a true test for a Thunder team who has seemed to have trouble finding ways to get back-to-back wins thus far into the season.