Adirondack Thunder

Adirondack Thunder forward James Henry plays the puck off the boards during the Dec. 31 game against the Reading Royals at the Civic Center.

Andy Camp, courtesy of the Adirondack Thunder

GLENS FALLS — After a seven-day gap between games, you might expect a slow start. But the Adirondack Thunder answered their coach’s challenge to be more than OK and got off to a strong start on Saturday.

  1st 2nd 3rd T
Reading 0 2 3 5
Adirondack 0 1 1 2

The problem was they couldn’t maintain it.

Coach Cail MacLean’s challenge after Friday’s practice was about work ethic. The Thunder addressed their two mediocre practices and came out with good effort on Saturday. The difference, forward Ty Loney pointed out, was between working hard and working smart.

“This is a good game to grow from,” Loney said after the 5-2 loss to Reading in front of a near-sellout crowd. “You can work as hard as you can, but if you don’t work smart sometimes it’s not enough.”

That means sticking within the system, rather than freelancing. Sometimes it’s tempting to try to win the game in a single play when all you need is a simple shot, or even just a solid forecheck. A big hit, a blocked shot, a takeaway are all good responses to giving up a goal. It doesn’t have to be an immediate goal of your own.

“Sometimes you try to do stuff yourself a little too much when you know the team needs something,” forward Dana Fraser said. “You can’t hate on a guy for doing that. But we need to find a way to stick to our game plan and keep our composure and do the little things that get a team going, not just individuals.”

That’s what they didn’t achieve on Saturday. Instead, the Thunder worked more individually. They lost focus and started taking bad penalties, and that’s where MacLean felt it went off the rails. That was the response after Reading out-executed the Thunder.

MacLean felt things might have been different had the Thunder managed to score on one of their many chances in the first period. But former Thunder goalie Drew Fielding wasn’t giving up much. He made 40 saves against his old team.

The coach thought with as many chances as the team had, the Thunder should have been able to score.

Going into the game, MacLean said Reading’s strong forward group would be a good test for the Thunder. The Royals can make a team pay for a miscue. That’s what they did to the Thunder.

Now, it’s a matter of how to respond to that. As much as you’d like to avoid all miscues, it’s unlikely that a team won’t make any mistakes. So they need to be able to respond to a mistake and get back into the system.

Loney suggested there’s a maturity element to be able to maintain the strong start and not be thrown off. It takes some consciousness to avoid frustration and play smart.

1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
Reading2:38Labelle 13 (McCarthy, Crandall)
Reading7:27Iberer 7 (Czarnik, Crandall), PP
Adirondack8:37Loney 12 (Alber, MacArthur), PP
3rd Period
Reading11:57Czarnik 10 (Crandall, Iberer), PP
Reading17:35Willows 7, EN
Adirondack18:03Hughes 4 (Fedoseyev)
Reading18:54McCarthy 14 (Crandall), EN

Follow Diana C. Nearhos on Twitter @dianacnearhos.

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