GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder started the season a little shaky, going 2-2-0-0 in their first four games. They have been on a roll ever since, winning the last four and taking sole possession of first place with two wins over the weekend.
Friday’s game against the Maine Mariners featured the return of two former Thunder players: forward Terrence Wallin and defenseman Ryan Culkin. Wallin picked up an assist on the Mariners’ lone goal, scored by Alex Kile, but it was his former teammates who stole the show. Peter MacArthur and Mike Szmatula scored 42 seconds apart in the first to take the lead. Conor Riley added an empty-netter to seal the deal for the Thunder.
Saturday was Military Appreciation Night at the Cool Insuring Arena, with the Thunder wearing specialty jerseys in their matchup against the Worcester Railers. The game remained scoreless until 11:29 of the second period when MacArthur got the Thunder on the board. Josh Holmstrom tied the game for Worcester in the third period, but James Henry netted the game-winner for the Thunder with only 1:14 remaining.
Leading the League:
The Thunder ended the weekend at the top of the league with 12 points (6-2-0-0). Henry, with at least one point in each game this season, is tied with Braylon Shmyr of the Allen Americans for the league lead in points with 14. The Thunder captain attributes part of his success to his linemates (alternate captains MacArthur and Brian Ward):
“Playing with guys like Peter MacArthur and Brian Ward, the puck is gravitating towards them, and offensive chances come a little more frequently.”
MacArthur and Riley are tied for 15th in the ECHL with eight points apiece. Desmond Bergin is fifth in the league for defensemen with six points, while rookie Jake Linhart is tied for seventh with five points.
Riley is the biggest surprise this year. The former defenseman currently has a point per game, well on his way to his most successful season thus far. For Riley, it’s a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities given to him:
“Alex (head coach Alex Loh) has given me a lot of opportunities, putting me on the ice in situations I want to be in, so I think it’s just big to take advantage of that.”
With New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider finishing up his conditioning stint in Binghamton, Adirondack should be getting some additional help in net. Eddie Lack will likely be headed to Binghamton, and in turn, Cam Johnson has been sent to Adirondack.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The team shipped forward Shane Elserman and goaltender Colton Phinney to Atlanta for cash considerations Monday afternoon.
The Thunder will next face the Newfoundland Growlers (5-4-0-0) at home Tuesday before traveling to Worcester (3-3-0-0) Friday. It will be the third matchup against both teams.
Earlier this month, the Thunder split a pair of games in Newfoundland. Zach O’Brien (1G, 5A), Brady Ferguson (3G, 1A), Giorgio Estephan (2G, 1A), and Ryan Moore (2G) led the way for the Growlers. For the Thunder, it was Shane Conacher (3G, 1A), Henry (3A), Cullen Bradshaw (3A), and Matt Salhany (2G).
Adirondack won both games at home against Worcester this past week. Holmstrom and Nick Bligh were the only two to score for the Railers in the previous two meetings. The Thunder’s Henry and Bergin had two goals apiece, with Henry also picking up a pair of assists. Szmatula and MacArthur each had a goal as well.
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