GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder made their second player announcement in less than a week on Tuesday. Forward Mike Szmatula joins linemate Matt Salhany on the club’s roster for the upcoming season, with promises of more announcements to soon follow.
Szmatula ranked second in Thunder scoring during the 2019-20 season with 49 points. As a rookie during the 2018-19 campaign, he ranked third in team scoring with 48 points. His efforts earned him two AHL call-ups (two games with the Stockton Heat, three with the Utica Comets) and an ECHL All-Star appearance.
Adirondack Head Coach Alex Loh had nothing be praise for Szmatula after the signing announcement.
“He’s been an integral part of the team for the past few years. Everybody’s seen what he can do on the ice, off the ice. He exemplifies exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to a Thunder player. He’s a great kid, great guy, excellent in the community, interacts very well with the fans.”
Last week, Salhany mentioned that several core players would likely be returning to Adirondack for the 2020-21 season, but didn’t drop any names.
“I’m super confident with [head coach Alex Loh], with our staff, with our core group of guys coming back, and with some newcomers, that we can get our team back to the top echelon of the league and really compete.”
“I definitely have some inside scoop of a lot of the guys that may be signing, but I don’t want to ruin that. Save some surprises for along the summer to keep you guys busy.”
In his Facebook Live announcement of the Szmatula signing, Coach Loh did mention numerous names, including forwards Alex Carrier, Ryan Walker, John Edwardh, Nick Hutchison, Ara Nazarian, as well as defensemen Jake Linhart and Charlie Curti.
Loh on Carrier: “Definitely gonna have him back next season. We’re excited to have him back.”
Loh on Walker: “Working on it, no question there.”
Loh on Edwardh: “He said if he’s playing next year, he’s gonna be playing with us. It’s just a matter of whether that works for him and his family.”
Loh on Hutchison: “Working with Nick and expect to see something here at some point soon.”
Loh on Nazarian: “Talking to him, trying to get something squared away with him for next season. I know he’s evaluating all his options.”
Loh on Linhart: “Definitely talking to Jake, working on a way to get him back. He’ll be qualified with us again for next season.”
Loh on Curti: “Working on it, so hopefully we’ll have an announcement there in the next few days.”
Despite all the familiar faces, there will be a few big names who may not return. A couple players are “evaluating life” and are still up in the air, including Conor Riley and James Henry. A few have plans to play in Europe, including Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Ludvig Larsson, and Nikita Popugaev. Veteran defenseman Michael Sdao has already announced his retirement.
The Thunder plan on making another player announcement on Thursday. Will it be someone Loh has already mentioned, another returnee, or will we see a newcomer signed early on?
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