The Adirondack Thunder are on the cusp of something, but it’s completely up to them to make sure it happens.
Wednesday’s hard-earned 4-3 overtime win over Manchester gave the Thunder (18-14-1-1) their second consecutive win. A win over Worcester on Friday would match their season high of three in a row, and they’ve only done it once.
It’s as much a mental hurdle as a physical one, but a win could give the Thunder, now in second place in the tight North Division, some separation from other teams and also some confidence that no matter who’s injured or called up to the AHL, they can take care of business on any given night.
Following the win Wednesday, the Thunder players and coaches all had the same attitude: happiness and relief they were twice able to overcome a two-goal deficit and grind out a win, but looking forward to practice to not put themselves in that position again.
Manchester had a 2-0 lead after the first period, and things didn’t look promising.
“We weren’t going to the body,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “I don’t want to use the word soft, but we were playing outside the game. We weren’t inside the game. Our checking wasn’t very good.”
“You definitely want to get in the lead and keep it, but I think that’s tough to do professionally,” said forward Ty Loney, who finished with a goal and three assists. “But when you’re down, you know you’ve got to fight back.”
The line of Shane Conacher, Troy Bourke and Loney got a pep speech from Tapper and assistant coach Alex Loh before the second period, and it worked wonders. The line finished with three goals and seven assists.
“Alex and I brought them in, gave them a little bit of the dickens and they answered and started moving their feet,” Tapper said.
Loney knows addressing the team’s starts will happen in practice, but he wasn’t surprised at the team’s resilience.
“Taking a lead and maintaining it is really tough, but we can definitely work on that, coming out stronger,” Loney said. “But at the same time, we know we’re not giving up, and that all comes from Brad and Alex.”
The scoresheet might not show it, but the Thunder know everyone contributed something important in Wednesday’s win.
“As a coach, you want to play your top guys all the time, but there’s a 60-minute game and three lines, and you have to understand you need energy in the second and third periods,” Tapper said. “So sometimes they have a 25-second shift, sometimes they get caught in the D-zone for a minute, ten. You need all lines.”