GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder and Manchester Monarchs began their North Division playoff series Friday night.  This is the fourth consecutive year the two rivals have faced each other in the playoffs. After splitting the regular season series with six victories each, and ending the season with only one point separating them in the standings, the Thunder and Monarchs were expected to have a relatively even playoff series as well.

It didn’t take long for the Monarchs to get on the board, only 2:34 into the game. Thunder defenseman Michael Sdao turned the puck over in his own zone, and Monarchs forward Bokondji Imama picked it up, passed to a streaking Pierre-Luc Mercier, who put the puck into the Thunder net.

Just under ten minutes later, Brian Ward tied it up when he deflected defenseman Blake Thompson‘s shot past Manchester goaltender Charles Williams. That was Ward’s first point against the Monarchs this season.

Later in the first, forward James Henry gave the Thunder the lead when he deflected Peter MacArthur‘s shot into the net. That closed out the scoring for an exciting opening frame.

Adirondack held the lead until 18:33 of the second, when Thunder killer Daniil Miromanov rifled the puck past goaltender Evan Cormier to tie the game for Manchester. Miromanov registered four goals and nine points against the Thunder in the regular season.

Forward Nic Pierog put the Monarchs up for good at 4:40 of the third period. Miromanov added an insurance goal for Manchester, and the Monarchs pulled out the win.

Adirondack head coach Alex Loh’s description of the game:

“They (monarchs) just did a good job of taking advantage of the bounces.  I think we did a lot to generate a lot of good things.  they played a good road game, their goalie played well, they did what they needed to do, they scored on the opportunities they got, and that’s the story of the game.”

The loss was a tough one to take, as the Thunder heavily outshot the Monarchs (52-27), but were repeatedly frustrated by goaltender Williams. Loh wasn’t concerned about the loss, saying he has “full faith” in his team, and even has an idea on how to solve Williams in future games.

“I think the biggest thing is, get in front of him.  he’s obviously saving everything he sees, so we’ve just got to make it more difficult for him to see.”

Thunder captain Henry’s plan moving forward:

“we had a lot of opportunities around the net.  if we can bear down on some of our chances, then as far as defensively, keep them to the outside a little bit more.”

The Thunder will have a chance to do just that Saturday, as the teams face off once again at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.  The series will then shift to Manchester, NH for games 3-5 on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

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