ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Adirondack Thunder opened the 2018-19 season on the road, with a game in Portland, Maine Saturday, and matches in St. John’s, Newfoundland Tuesday and Wednesday. Both are former AHL cities and are new to the ECHL’s North Division this season.
The Thunder began the road trip with a decisive 6-3 victory over the Maine Mariners. Brian Ward, Cullen Bradshaw, and John Edwardh gave Adirondack a quick 3-0 lead before the ten-minute mark of the first period. The Mariners didn’t record a shot on goal until 10:29 of the first, when Jason Salvaggio put the puck past Thunder goaltender Colton Phinney. Former Adirondack defenseman Ryan Culkin gave the Mariners some hope with a goal early in the second period, bringing his team to within one. That was short-lived, as Adirondack’s Conor Riley and Edwardh scored 1:24 apart to put the game out of reach. Maine’s Alex Kile and Adirondack’s Shane Conacher each added one more for their respective teams.
Rookie forward Edwardh ended the night with an impressive four points (two goals, two assists). Ward and Bradshaw each finished with a goal and assist, while defenseman Desmond Bergin picked up two helpers.
The Thunder next headed north of the border for a pair of games against the Newfoundland Growlers. In Tuesday’s contest, Adirondack looked nothing like the team that had come out victorious in Maine, falling to Newfoundland by a score of 7-3.
Newfoundland forward Giorgio Estephan got his team off to a quick start, scoring less than a minute into the game. The Growlers never looked back. Brady Ferguson added another in the first to give his team a 2-0 lead. Estephan netted his second of the night only 21 seconds into the second period. Edwardh put Adirondack on the board at 8:50 of the second, but Ferguson answered back for Newfoundland. That would be the eventual game-winner. Riley brought the Thunder to within two again, but once again the Growlers answered back, this time with goals from Sam Babintsev and Ryan Moore. That put the game out of reach before the third period even began. Each team added another goal in the final frame, putting the final score at 7-3.
Estephan and Ferguson led the way for Newfoundland, with two goals apiece, with Ferguson picking up an assist as well. Zach O’Brien assisted on all four of those goals. For Adirondack, Conacher picked up two points (goal, assist).
The teams met up once again on Wednesday, with Adirondack looking to get some revenge after Tuesday’s tough loss. Matt Salhany scored twice in the first period, one a shorthanded tally, to put the Thunder up 2-1 heading into the middle frame. Moore had the goal for Newfoundland. Matt Bradley tied the game at 3:57 of the second period. Conacher, Riley, and rookie Shane Eiserman all scored for Adirondack, putting the Thunder in a seemingly comfortable position heading into the third. Ferguson and O’Brien both scored for Newfoundland in the final frame, bringing the Growlers to within one, before Conacher put the puck into an empty net to seal the 6-4 win for Adirondack.
Salhany and Conacher each tallied two goals for the Thunder; Eiserman added a goal and assist; Bradshaw picked up a pair of assists. For the Growlers, it was Bradley and O’Brien leading with a goal and assist apiece, while Scott Pooley contributed two helpers.
The Thunder have several players who have picked up points in each of the first three games. Captain James Henry recorded an assist in each game. Bradshaw has points in each game (one goal, four assists). Conacher has scored in each game (four goals, one assist). The real surprise is Riley, who was a defenseman for much of his career, only making the transition to forward in the latter half of the 2017-18 season. He is currently on a three-game goal-scoring streak as well.
The Thunder will be back in action Saturday, October 20 for their home opener against the Brampton Beast. With defenseman Michael Sdao on injured reserve, the Thunder had room on their roster for one more player. They signed forward Alexandre Carrier, who had played for Adirondack in 2015-16.