GLENS FALLS — Well, Drew Fielding was right. The Adirondack Thunder goalie said before this week’s three-game series against Florida that by the third game there would be some bad blood.
It was in full display before a sellout crowd of 4,937 — the Thunder’s third sellout this season — as the visiting Everblades used a strong second period and a power-play goal in overtime to beat the Thunder 4-3 in ECHL action at Cool Insuring Arena.
Matching the emotion of the night, Fielding cracked his stick over the goal, splitting it in two after the game-winning goal.
The Thunder had won the first two games of the series and took a 1-0 lead after the first period on James Henry’s power-play goal from in close, his 14th of the season.
But maybe the prospect of a sweep got in the Thunder’s heads, because Florida responded with three second-period goals scored in a span of seven minutes, 15 seconds. The second one from Justin Kea highlighted his and the Everblades’ strong stickhandling, which has been on display all three games.
The third goal was an “ugh” moment for the Thunder, as John McCarron scored a power-play goal on the third rebound.
“We started watching them play and we weren’t good with the puck,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said.
Toward the end of the second period was when the bad blood started showing, with Florida’s Matt Mackenzie getting a game misconduct for boarding the Thunder’s Paul Rodrigues from behind. Rodrigues went face-first into the glass and fell to the ice. It was nearly 10 seconds before he moved. He eventually skated off to the dressing room.
But the Thunder also showed their resiliency in the third, scoring on a power play 25 seconds into the period as Brian Ward scored his 15th of the season from the slot.
After more nastiness in which the penalty box officials may have wondered if they needed to see a realtor about bigger digs, the Thunder tied it at 3 on a wicked slap shot from the 6-foot-6 Mathieu Brodeur.
But for all the obvious penalties and several cheap shots that went unnoticed, the officials called Henry for a questionable high sticking with 44 seconds left in regulation. And that led to Gus Young’s game-winning slap shot from up top just 1:14 into the overtime.
Tapper was displeased with the officiating, as were most of the fans.
“I feel bad for the kid because he probably has a passion to be in the NHL, but he needs to be better,” he said of the referee.
On the positive side, though, Tapper was very happy with his team for taking five out of six points in the series with the league-leading Everblades.
“Our guys, we’re so proud of,” Tapper said. “We had two, three guys leave the game. We know now we’re a playoff team. Obviously we’re not in the playoffs, but we know we can handle any team now.
“Mounting another great comeback,” he added. “We’re never down.”