Everyone knows you can find the Adirondack Thunder players and coaches on the ice during their games.
They’re equally easy to find throughout the community. Just in the last week or so, they’ve been at dodgeball tournaments, an Adirondack Youth Hockey Association practice, the C.R. Wood Cancer Center and a Queensbury High School sports captains club meeting.
Even when the community comes to the Thunder’s home ice, the players are very generous with their time. At a recent postgame skate — following a physically and emotionally draining 4-3 overtime loss to Florida — every player took time to talk to kids and fans.
Head coach Brad Tapper wouldn’t have it otherwise.
“When I was interviewing for the job,” the first-year head coach said, “I said we will be in the community a lot.”
Zach Dooley, the director of communications and community relations, is in charge of working with Tapper and the team to schedule the events. Obviously, the hockey needs come first. After that, however, Tapper told Dooley, “Load us up.
“I tell all of them if a player has a problem with that aspect of the job, he will not stay here,” Tapper said. “We’re excited to be in the community, and why not? We’re a part of the community.”
Dooley said if the team is free all week, he tries to schedule three to five events per week to maximize the time when the players are around.
Examples of the Thunder’s community involvement include skating with the Adirondack, Saratoga and Clifton Park youth hockey associations, as well as Queensbury High School’s team, working with the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, visiting schools to discuss such topics as reading, physical fitness and leadership, and working with the Glens Falls Youth Center and other after-school programs.
“We’re just proud of all the guys for the time they put into the community and representing the organization with class,” Tapper said.
NOTES: Thursday was a busy transaction day. Defenseman Colton White was reassigned from the AHL’s Binghamton Devils to Adirondack. Forward Shane Conacher was recalled to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, while forward Ty Loney was recalled by the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
Loney was traded by Syracuse to Bakersfield on Wednesday night. In the event Loney is assigned to the ECHL, Adirondack still retains his ECHL rights. Loney currently leads the Thunder in goals with 19, and has 34 points in 32 games.
“I hope he does well out there, we want them to advance” Tapper said of Loney. “It’s a fresh start for him, but if he does get sent down, he knows he’s a part of this family.”