GLENS FALLS — One could say the first period hasn’t been kind to the Adirondack Thunder this season, but that personifies the period and takes the onus off the Thunder, which shouldn’t be the case.
And that light seemed to go on for the Thunder in the latter two of three games at Norfolk a week and a half ago. The Thunder, outscored 56-43 in first periods this season, scored two goals in the first period each night, leading to a 4-2 win Feb. 10 and a 5-2 win Feb. 11.
Unfortunately, it was short-lived, as the Thunder looked sluggish in falling behind Brampton 2-0 in the first period of Friday’s game.
Before the Brampton game, the Thunder players and head coach Brad Tapper offered a couple of reasons for the Thunder suddenly treating their first-period play with the proper reverence.
One reason was that the team was coming off two abysmal losses to Manchester and Norfolk.
“You’ve got to realize it’s crunch time coming into the last 20 games of the year,” forward James Henry said. “All the points are so valuable.”
“I think sometimes you need to go through rough patches and different scenarios to learn from them,” forward Terrence Wallin said. “I think we started to bear down and focus before the games. Get their minds right before and after warmups and come out ready to play.”
Tapper said the team had a really hard meeting the morning of Feb. 10, a day after Norfolk had beaten it 7-4.
“We laid into the players. ‘What are we doing here? Let’s pick up our socks and get going.’ They responded really well,” Tapper said.
The other reason offered was that each line wanted to continue the momentum established by the previous line. And with relatively early goals scored, that especially keeps momentum going.
“You look at all 10 forwards who are playing, everybody’s contributing, playing physical, being responsible in the defensive zone,” Henry said.
Henry added that it starts with the first line.
“If you see (Brian) Ward playing hard and being physical and winning battles, that shows if one of the top scorers on our team can do that, then everybody else can do the exact same thing just as hard as him,” Henry said.
“If the first line can go out and bump a little bit, get the bench going, maybe lay a check, it kind of gets you going,” Wallin said. “If you get a hit or get hit yourself, it kind of gets your mind right or wakes you up if you’re not there.”
“Being tenacious is contagious — we use that line a lot in our room,” Tapper said. “When you’re tenacious and you got Dylan Olsen going stick on puck to the body, and (Mathieu) Brodeur’s going hard, that feeds off to the next guy, feeds off to everybody.”