GLENS FALLS — The curse of being a .500 hockey team, usually, is that there aren’t any extended winning streaks.
In the Adirondack Thunder’s case, neither have there been any extended losing streaks. But if the Thunder are going to make any serious noise in the North Division — by far the most competitive one of the four in the ECHL — they’re going to have to find a way to get a couple of winning streaks beyond one or two games.
Coming off a positive 3-0 win over Worcester on Friday, and with the Railers minus Justin Hamonic due to a game misconduct/suspension, the Thunder had the Railers at home Saturday. They also got a boost in the return of Mathieu Brodeur from his professional tryout contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. It was the last home game before Christmas, and what would have been better than a win going into the holiday?
But the game was effectively over after one period. The Railers scored three goals in the first period en route to a 5-3 win before 2,963 fans at Cool Insuring Arena.
The Thunder (15-13-1-1) haven’t won more than two consecutive games since their one-and-only three-game win streak from Nov. 8-11.
“It’s deflating,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “We’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve got to put a string of seven or eight together here. You can’t go win one, lose one, win one, win one, lose two. We’ve got some good bodies here, we’ve got the goaltending. We’ve got to put it together.”
The Railers’ first goal was the result of Wad Murphy intercepting a pass in the Thunder’s defensive zone. He dropped off the puck for Matt Lane, who wristed it in at 15:05. Woody Hudson added a second goal before the Thunder were the victims of an unfortunate penalty shot call at 18:55, with the referee calling Blake Thompson for an infraction. Chris Langkow’s backhander beat Chris Nell on the penalty shot to make it 3-0. A replay of the breakaway made the call appear dubious.
“I thought it wasn’t good at all,” Tapper said of the call. “He hit his stick. I mean, give him a two-minute minor.”
To the Thunder’s credit, they started the second period with more energy. It first showed with Vytal Cote’s fight with Yanick Turcotte at 1:14. Then at 5:03, Conor Riley fed Paul Rodrigues, who deked goalie Eamon McAdam and backhanded it in.
The energy was short-lived, however, as Langkow fed Barry Almeida down low to make it 4-1 at 8:15.
“We’ve done it before, we say chip away,” Tapper said.
The Thunder tried their best to rally in the third period, but by then the hole was too big to crawl out of. It started with Tapper pulling goalie Nick Riopel, who relieved Nell to start the second period, on a power play with 9:04 left. But Worcester’s Patrick McNally intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, came over the blue line and scored on a shorthanded empty-netter with 8:11 left.
“I’m an aggressive coach. We turn it over and it ends up in our net. I’ll be aggressive until the day I die,” Tapper said.
Ben Murphy scored his fifth of the season at 13:45 on an assist from Terrence Wallin, who now has a nine-game scoring streak. His eight-game streak was already the fourth-longest active streak in the ECHL.
Desmond Bergin’s sixth goal of the season made it 5-3 with 1:19 left.
“I can’t really put a finger on it,” Murphy said. “I just think tonight, it’s probably fighting the puck a little bit and just trying to play a full 60 (minutes).”
“We were so good (Friday),” Tapper said. “We should have known they were going to push back today, but for some reason we just didn’t have that oomph.”
Railers 5, Thunder 3
Worcester 3 1 1 — 5
Adirondack 0 1 2 — 3
1st Period — 1, Worcester, Lane 1 (Murphy), 15:05. 2, Worcester, Hudson 7 (DiChiara, Kubiak), 15:43. 3, Worcester, Langkow 9 18:55 (PS). Penalties-Almeida Wor (high-sticking), 16:08; Saracino Wor (slashing), 18:43.
2nd Period — 4, Adirondack, Rodrigues 4 (Riley, Bergin), 5:03. 5, Worcester, Almeida 7 (Langkow, Cornell), 8:16. Penalties-Turcotte Wor (fighting—major), 1:14; Cote Adk (fighting—major), 1:14; Loney Adk (slashing), 19:32.
3rd Period — 6, Worcester, McNally 11 11:49 (SH EN). 7, Adirondack, Murphy 5 (Wallin, Riley), 13:45. 8, Adirondack, Bergin 6 (Murphy, Henry), 18:41. Penalties-Lane Wor (broken stick), 10:56.
Shots on Goal — Worcester 14-6-10-30. Adirondack 14-14-9-37.
Power Play Opportunities — Worcester 0-1; Adirondack 0-3.
Goalies — Worcester, McAdam 7-5-2-2 (37 shots-34 saves). Adirondack, Nell 1-2-0-0 (14 shots-11 saves); Riopel 8-9-1-0 (15 shots-14 saves).
A — 2,963
Referees — Olivier Gouin (7).
Linesmen — Chris Provost (50), Matt Brady (42).