GLENS FALLS — When public address announcer Dan Miner said there was one minute remaining, the thought had to cross Thunder fans’ minds: Maybe they’d get a point out of this game.
Why the Thunder didn’t deserve that point was displayed with 26 seconds left, as Patrick McNally scored his second goal of the game on a defensive miscommunication to give Worcester a 4-3 win in an ECHL game Friday at Cool Insuring Arena.
The loss especially put a damper on an outstanding effort from Thunder goalie Chris Nell, making his Adirondack debut after playing in 10 games with Hartford in the AHL. Nell saved his defense several times in making 36 saves.
“I’d rather lose 7-1 or 8-2,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “That was a heartbreaker for everyone in the building.”
McNally’s first goal came at 3:06 of the third period and tied the score at 2. He skated in from the top of the slot and around the left circle, but suddenly wasn’t covered anymore and put one to the far side of Nell.
McNally’s eventual game-winner came when he was marked in going behind the goal but not when he came around and skated in front of it.
“Giving up a late one like that, not getting any points out of it, it’s just frustrating,” said Thunder forward Brian Ward, who played a solid game with a goal and a hard-working assist. “I think communication in the D-zone needs to be better, picking up guys.”
“He shouldn’t be able to get in the red line, he should be through the boards,” Tapper said. “We weren’t moving our feet. We weren’t sealing him off. He can’t come in and skate in like that. Somebody’s got to put him through the end glass. That’s what they would have done to us.”
Ward dug a puck out from the boards behind the goal and fed Eric Neiley on the crease for the Thunder’s first goal — and Neiley’s ninth of the season — 28 seconds into the second to tie the game at 1. The duo connected with 7 seconds left in the period when Neiley found a cutting Ward, who flicked it high into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
The Railers’ Woody Hudson and the Thunder’s Ben Murphy traded third-period goals just 1:08 apart to tie the game at 3.
The Thunder were outshot 40-19, and while they almost pulled off at least one point, the Railers’ legs appeared fresher throughout the night.
“You never want to see the shots that lopsided,” Ward said. “I didn’t think we were on top of our game tonight. I thought we did some things well. The effort was there in spurts, but we’ve got to put together a full 60 minutes.”
The Thunder, missing a bunch of players because of injuries, wrap up their third consecutive game against the Railers this week on Saturday night at Worcester.