GLENS FALLS — The latest episode of As the Thunder Turn Over happened at the last line of defense.
Goaltending is a sensitive area for any hockey team, but Adirondack head coach Brad Tapper is hopeful this move is in everybody’s best interest.
On Wednesday, the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch signed goalie Olivier Mantha out of the University of Alaska-Anchorage and assigned him to Adirondack, their secondary ECHL affiliate. That meant the Thunder had three goalies, and someone had to go.
Unfortunately, it was Tomas Sholl, who made a most favorable impression in a short time. In eight games with the Thunder, he had a 5-0-0-1 record with a .939 save percentage — second-highest among the six goalies that have played for the Thunder this season — and a 2.05 goals-against average. Sholl was traded to another ECHL team, the Idaho Steelheads, for future considerations.
“With Shollsy, he’s going to get a great opportunity with another organization,” Tapper said. “Is it very hard to let him go? Obviously it is. He’s a great kid, he was an awesome teammate. His effort and attitude were second to none, but decisions have to be made. That’s the one we went with.”
Tapper added that there likely will be more goalie movement in the future, as New Jersey, Adirondack’s parent NHL club, is finally starting to get its regular goalies healthy again. That could well affect AHL affiliate Binghamton and the Thunder.
Tapper said Sholl attracted attention throughout hockey’s levels, and that teams wanted him just for a weekend, but Adirondack said no.
“He’s going to go to a spot where he has at least a month to prove himself, and maybe there’s injuries in that organization and he gets to stick there,” Tapper said. “We did everything we could possible for him. I thought we handled it really well.”
The Thunder are getting obvious, if not professionally tested, talent. Mantha, 25, skated four seasons with Alaska-Anchorage, where he appeared in a school-record 122 games. The 6-foot-1 Quebec native made 946 saves during his recently completed senior season, the sixth-most in the nation. He had a .908 save percentage for his college career.
Mantha had his first practice with the Thunder on Thursday, and Tapper said the goalie did well.
“You can tell he’s a quick goalie, a big goalie. Couple times he needed to track the puck a little better — he’s putting pucks in areas I thought they shouldn’t be: back in the scoring area,” Tapper said.
Tapper added he’s leaning toward starting Drew Fielding against Manchester on Friday, then Mantha on Saturday, but that’s not finalized.
NOTES: Among the other faces returning to the Thunder for the consecutive games at Manchester are defensemen Mathieu Brodeur, Mike Bergin and Colton White.