GLENS FALLS, NY – After being swept by the Brampton Beast the previous weekend, the Adirondack Thunder needed a big weekend to regain their confidence and to ensure playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. As rookie defenseman Jake Linhart said Friday:
“We need to get three wins this weekend to clinch, so that’s our goal.”
The Thunder began the weekend with a Friday night rematch with the Beast. Adirondack had dropped the previous two contests by scores of 4-1 and 6-3. Brampton scored first in both of those games, so Adirondack wanted to get on the board first Friday night. Going into the weekend, the Thunder were 20-6-1-0 when scoring first.
Adirondack was credited with the first goal of the evening, although it was a Brampton skater who put the puck in the net. Thunder rookie John Edwardh passed the puck across the crease and Beast defenseman Chris Martenet deflected it past goaltender Etienne Marcoux. Because Edwardh was the last Adirondack player to touch the puck, he was credited with the goal. Brian Ward added a breakaway backhander later in the first period to give the Thunder a 2-0 lead.
There was no more scoring until the last half of the third period, when Linhart added another for Adirondack. The Beast quickly made it interesting, beginning their comeback bid only 17 minutes later, when Boston Leier netted his second of the season. Forward Nathan Todd added another with two minutes remaining to give his team some hope, but the Thunder were able to hold off their opponent for the 3-2 victory.
Rookie goaltender Arthur Brey picked up his first pro win as a starter. He had previously gotten a victory in relief when teammate Logan Thompson was injured on March 16. Brey credited his teammates for their early help in the win:
“When the boys get some early goals for you, it definitely helps your confidence and you’re able to play a little more aggressively. Those early goals definitely helped.”
Saturday featured the first of two against the Maine Mariners. This one started out the exact opposite of Friday night’s game. Nick Master and Zeb Knutson each scored in the opening frame to put Maine up 2-0. Adirondack entered the night 14-18-4-3 when allowing the first goal, but only 4-17-0-2 when trailing after the first period.
Edwardh was able to get one back for the Thunder in the middle frame. Cullen Bradshaw, Mike Szmatula, and Blake Thompson all added goals in the final frame to give the Thunder the 4-2 lead. Thompson commented postgame:
“We understood that the magnitude of this game was huge. We’re not in the playoffs yet, we’re still trying to earn our spot. We can’t afford to give a lackluster effort in the first and have to come from behind every night.”
The two teams then traveled to Maine for a Sunday afternoon game in Portland. Adirondack’s four straight goals on Saturday clearly weren’t enough, because Bradshaw, Thompson, and Linhart scored three more to begin the game Sunday.
Maine forward Taylor Cammarata scored at 17:24 of the first to break Adirondack’s streak of seven consecutive goals. Dillan Fox added another for the Mariners to end the period at 3-2.
Dylan Walchuk netted another for the Thunder before Cammarata and Master tied it up to close out the middle frame. When tied after two periods, Adirondack was 4-4-3-1.
Shane Conacher, Peter MacArthur, and Linhart scored three straight in the third to seal the Thunder victory and secure a playoff spot. Maine’s Cammarata added for with 11 seconds remaining to complete his hat trick. Rookie goaltender Eric Schierhorn picked up his first pro win.
Many skaters had a multi-point weekend for the Thunder. Linhart, Bradshaw, and captain James Henry led the way with five points apiece. Henry assisted on each of Adirondack’s four goals Saturday night. Edwardh, Conacher, and Ward each had four points. Thompson, Szmatula, Desmond Bergin, and Kelly Summers each added two points.
After seeing his 15-game point streak snapped in Brampton on March 23, Edwardh is back to his scoring ways with points in each of his last four games. Bradshaw is also on a four-game point streak.
The Thunder scored a total of five goals on the power play over the weekend, going 5-for-9 overall. The penalty kill was quite effective as well, killing 11 of the 12 penalties called against the team. They also added two shorthanded goals, both against the Mariners. Linhart became the first player in Adirondack Thunder history to score both on the power play and the penalty kill in a single game.
The Thunder will face the Reading Royals in a home-and-home Friday and Saturday. The Worcester Railers will visit on Sunday to close out the regular season. The weekend will be an important one for the North Division: seedings will become final as two playoff spots are still up for grabs.
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