GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder are set to begin their fifth season in the ECHL. The 2019-20 season will showcase some talent new to Glens Falls, and of course some familiar faces as well. There were a lot of rookies in training camp, with a good number of them making the opening night roster. Plus, three players are coming in with Kelly Cup championships under their belts (goaltender Eamon McAdam, defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst, and forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel). Several of last season’s skaters are also returning, including Shane Conacher, Matt Salhany, Michael Sdao, and Blake Thompson.
NUTS AND BOLTS
2018-19 Regular Season Record: 37-26-6-3 (.576)
Division/Conference Finish: 2nd in North Division, 4th in Eastern Conference
Playoff Finish: Defeated 4-1 by Manchester Monarchs in round one
Record vs. Division: 31-24-5-3 (.515)
Record vs. Conference: 34-25-5-3 (.567)
Goals For Per Game: 3.25 (11th in ECHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 3.06 (10th in ECHL)
Power Play: 60 goals in 269 attempts (22.3%) – 2nd in ECHL
Penalty Kill: 225 penalties killed in 271 attempts (83.0%) – 12th in ECHL
Help From an Unexpected Source: The Thunder are still affiliated with the New Jersey and Binghamton Devils, but will also be receiving a few players from the Montreal Canadiens and Laval Rocket in 2019-20. Goaltender Michael McNiven and forwards Hayden Verbeek and Antoine Waked were sent to Adirondack during training camp.
Loss of a Rival: The loss of the Manchester Monarchs will be felt all around the North Division, particularly by those teams closest in proximity. The remaining teams will have to face each other more often, with significantly increased travel in some cases. The fans in other nearby markets also lose out, as many traveled to New Hampshire for their teams’ road games. Adirondack, Worcester, and Maine all have fans who regularly traveled to Manchester to see their teams play.
Head Coach Alex Loh says to look forward to more of the same from his club this season:
“The last four years have been pretty good, so hopefully year five is just as good. i’m really happy with the skill level; we’ve got some toughness back there, too. I think we just have a really well-rounded group. so just more of the same that we’ve seen and the same success we’ve had the last couple years.”
Conor Riley: The fourth-year pro is coming off his most successful season thus far, one that was highlighted by his first pro hat trick and two AHL call-ups (two games with the Binghamton Devils and three with the Providence Bruins). Riley spent the summer in Australia playing for the CBR Brave of the AIHL, where he scored 29 points in 14 games. He then attended his first NHL training camp with the Anaheim Ducks, then went on to the San Diego Gulls’ camp before returning to the Thunder. Riley should begin the regular season with the confidence to propel him to another successful year.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel: The ECHL’s active points leader brings plenty of experience and skill to the table. He is coming off an injury-shortened season, and will want to get back to his old self as soon as possible. If he can stay healthy, expect Pierro-Zabotel to be in the top three in Adirondack’s point production.
James Henry: The Thunder captain has 198 total points with Adirondack, and has scored more than 50 points in the last three seasons. 2018-19 was his most productive with 69 points, and 2019-20 shouldn’t be far off. He will again be a leader both on and off the ice.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Peter MacArthur: MacArthur retired after Adirondack’s final playoff game in Manchester. He had a total of 144 points in his three seasons with the Thunder. His leadership and experience will be sorely missed, and the Thunder will have to look upon others to fill that void.
Brian Ward: Ward also put up big numbers while with Adirondack. As an alternate captain, Ward brought maturity and professionalism, along with his 143 points in an Adirondack uniform. He chose the European route this season, currently playing for the Belfast Giants.
Mike Szmatula: Last season’s lone Thunder representative at the 2019 All-Star Classic, Szmatula also chose the European route this season and is currently in Poland. As a rookie in 2018-19, he had 48 points in 60 regular-season games for the Thunder, earning call-ups to the Stockton Heat and Utica Comets of the AHL. Adirondack did extend a qualifying offer to Szmatula over the summer and retain his ECHL rights for the remainder of this season, barring a trade.
SIN BIN SWAMI SEZ
The summer featured a ton of rookie signings and the 2019-20 season looked pretty bleak for a while, but Loh brought in some key pieces later in the summer, and things started to take shape. Assuming everyone can stay healthy, Adirondack should have another playoff-caliber team, built around a core group of team players.