GLENS FALLS — There was a standing-room-only crowd Saturday night and unique uniforms for Marvel Superhero Night. The only thing missing was a win.
Reading, wearing green Incredible Hulk jerseys, continued its ECHL dominance over Adirondack and its Thor jerseys, improving to 5-0 against the Thunder with a 3-2 win before a crowd of 4,843 at Cool Insuring Arena.
It was the Thunder’s third loss this week, all of them to Reading, in Adirondack’s first home game since Oct. 28. The Thunder were hoping for an end result to match the excitement in the building.
But the energy didn’t come until late, when the Thunder rallied and had good chances to tie the game. And that excitement had to be built up each time after three Reading goals scored on breakaways.
Reading’s first one came at 5:49 of the first period when Adam Schmidt broke in and flipped one past Nick Riopel while falling down. The Royals made it 2-0 at 9:23 of the second when Ryan Penny got behind the defense again.
“Again, we’ve got to keep five Hulk jerseys in front of us,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “We can’t have anyone behind us. You have to read it. We’ve got to be smart. The fifth guy can’t be down at the top of the circles. There’s four Thor jerseys and the fifth guy has to be back.”
The Thunder cut the deficit to 2-1 with a goal six seconds into its power play when Pierre-Luc Mercier ripped a slap shot stick-side at 16:16 of the second for his fourth goal of the season.
Reading made it 3-1 at 14:15 of the third on Matt Willows’ unassisted breakaway goal.
The Thunder made it 3-2 with another power-play goal. Riopel went off in favor of another skater, and James Henry poked in Paul Rodrigues’ shot at 16:56 for his sixth goal of the year.
The Thunder were 2 for 5 on the power play Saturday, improving their 20.8 percentage entering the game. And for being winless against the Royals, they’ve scored a power-play goal in each of their games.
The Thunder had a few more chances late in the game, but a problem that reared its ugly head throughout the night — players missing quality passes — struck twice more.
“I thought some guys were gripping their sticks the wrong way,” Tapper said. “Make sure you’re bearing down on that puck, not worrying about someone slashing your wrist.
“Even in neutral zone,” Tapper added, “errant passes, icing. We just have to play a more simple game and get pucks going north.”
“We know they’re an opportunistic team,” Henry said. “They’ll sneak a guy behind our D-men sometimes. I think the first half of the game we were a little slower and not in great position defensively.
“As the game went on, we made better decisions with the puck, which led to a little more offense and we started drawing more penalties,” Henry added.