MANCHESTER, NH – Greg Wolfe’s two-goal performance, including the game-winning goal, gave the Adirondack Thunder the 3-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs and put the Thunder ahead in the series 1-0.
The Thunder got off to a quick start as 43 seconds into the contest, rookie sensation Michael Kirkpatrick took a feed from Wolfe and buried his first playoff goal past Doug Carr which set the tone for the Thunder in the series. The Monarchs were quick to wake up, firing seven of their 10 first period shots in the next seven minutes after the Thunder goal, but Ken Appleby was equal to each shot that the Monarchs threw at him.
“That (first goal) was important,” Wolfe told Nearhos in a post-game interview. “Obviously we wanted to get off to a good start and especially lately, it’s been tough for us to get the first goal. So, that was a big goal.”
With lull for most of the second period, the Thunder got on the board again as Wolfe sniped a one-timer off a pass from Peter MacArthur to put the Thunder up 2-0 heading into the final frame. In the regular season, the Thunder were 30-0-2 when leading after 40 minutes of play, which may seem that this game was all wrapped up.
Despite the number, the Monarchs had fight left in them as they got goals from Mark Anthoine and Zac Larraza 31 seconds apart to tie the game at two, with Maxim Kitsyn and Gasper Kopitar getting assists on the Anthoine goal and Derek Arnold along with Danick Paquette having helpers on Larraza’s equalizer. With the momentum in their corner, the Monarchs peppered the Thunder on the forecheck, creating turnovers in the neutral zone, but Appleby kept the chances out with the help of blocked shots from Mitchell Heard and Luke Curadi and withstood the pressure put on the Thunder from the Monarchs.
The one mistake that the Monarchs made was late in the game, as off a rush from the Manchester offense, Ryan Lomberg started a counter-attack out of the zone, finding Wolfe in front of the net who went backhand to forehand to put the puck past a sprawling Carr for the eventual game-winner with only 1:33 to go in the contest.
“We can’t play 25 minutes of a hockey game and expect to win,” Manchester head coach Rich Seeley said after the game. “We know when we play our brand of hockey we will get the results we want. I expect to be much better Friday night.”
After the final buzzer, Nearhos noted that Paquette looked to have grabbed Thunder forward Gunnar Hughes and throw him down to the ice, which resulted in Hughes being slow to get up and a crowd gathering around the scene. Game Two between the Thunder and Monarchs will take place on Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
Full disclosure: Due to an issue in my ECHL.TV account, I was unable to watch the game firsthand. However, a big thanks to the Post-Star’s Diana C. Nearhos for allowing me to piece together a game report from her account via Twitter.