GLENS FALLS — The reward for the Adirondack Thunder taking a 12-game road trip, in reality, starts Friday.
Yes, the Thunder did have a home game last Saturday, but it was their second game in two days and third game over five days. Also, it was against Reading, which has won all five games over the Thunder so far this ECHL season.
Friday, however, begins a December filled with 10 home games, including Adirondack’s next six contests.
For starters, it’s a new opponent. The Thunder will play Worcester, in its inaugural year as an ECHL franchise, for the first time this season. There is also the fact that the Thunder will have had six days between games.
The extended road trip — just as coach Brad Tapper and players expected — brought the players and staff together more, and they’re hopeful it will show in their play starting Friday.
“I learned that our team faces adversity really well,” Tapper said. “Nine-hour trips turned into 14 hours. A 10-hour trip turned into a 19-hour trip. Our trailer broke. It was amazing to see the resilience of our hockey club.”
“We did spend a lot of time on the bus, and we spent a lot of time that we weren’t supposed to be on the bus,” forward Pierre-Luc Mercier said. “There was a lot of checking into hotels really, really early in the morning and not having that much sleep and then going to play a game, but that’s the job, and it’s still fun to go out and play hockey.”
Mercier said the road trip came with bumps and bruises, which helped the players play for each other.
“We really got together and tried to help trainers as much as we could because they were doing a hell of a job,” he said. “They were working way-too-long hours.”
Tapper said there was even an impromptu birthday song for another staff member and him — even though it was a joke, because it wasn’t their birthdays — from a hibachi grill waitstaff during the road trip.
The Thunder follow the Worcester game with a home game against Brampton on Saturday. Those two teams are below the Thunder in the North Division standings. That’s surface good news. The reality, however, is that the North Division overwhelmingly has the most parity. Only six points separate the top and bottom teams. The other three divisions have separations of 21, 17 and 16 points.
So the Thunder, who are on a three-game losing streak, are better rested, but they still have to take advantage of the home games. Having only been home for six of their 19 games, it seems hard to believe, but the season is one-quarter over.
“I think we’ll see a little more energy out of the guys,” Mercier said.