GLENS FALLS — One team played like it was fighting for the North Division lead. The other team played like it wasn’t in the stars and the players knew it.
Brampton, currently last in the ECHL’s North Division, was that first team. The Adirondack Thunder, who started Friday one point behind division leader Manchester, were snakebitten a little and outplayed a lot in Brampton’s 4-1 win at Cool Insuring Arena.
There were enough signs in the first period alone that it wasn’t the Thunder’s night. Paul Rodrigues’ game-opening shot less than a minute into the game hit the pipe. Andrew Radjenovic hit another one later, and Beast goalie Zachary Fucale saved a shot by Pierre-Luc Mercier right on the crease.
And at the other end, the Beast’s Nathan Todd scored on a once-in-a-blue-moon shot with 8:36 left in the period. To the right of Thunder goalie Drew Fielding and behind the red line — and with the puck barely on the line — he flipped one high barely off Fielding for a 1-0 lead.
The omens got no better in the second and third periods. With the Beast up 2-0, Brampton’s Mike Folkes got a four-minute double-minor with 1:49 left in the second. After another Beast penalty 45 seconds into the third, the Thunder had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:26. But all they could do with it was produce one wide shot, another blocked shot and a whole lot of turnovers.
Even the fans let them hear about that.
“The power play got outworked, which is really disappointing, especially 3 on 5,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “(Brandon) MacLean, (Brandon) Marino, when they worked, they worked hard and they outworked our power play, so we’ll look at that Monday, Tuesday, probably Wednesday as well, but we need to be better on special teams, that’s for sure.”
Evan Neugold’s second goal of the season from close range cut Brampton’s lead to 2-1 just 3:08 into the third, but the thrill was short-lived.
Brampton’s Chris Leveille scored on a breakaway at 6:14 and Todd delivered his second goal of the night by finishing a two on one with 4:25 left.
“They like floating guys behind you and you’ve got to be, I guess, mentally prepared and physically prepared for them taking off on you,” Thunder captain and defenseman Mike Bergin said. “We lost them a couple of times, they made some skilled plays because they’re a good team and just a couple breakdowns is what lost us the game.”
The Thunder hit four pipes in the game and once again — in a season filled with injuries, additions and subtractions — played with altered lines. But there were no “what ifs” in the Thunder locker room.
“No excuses,” Bergin said. “We’ve been missing guys the whole year and guys have been stepping up and playing well, so we were looking for it (this) game and we didn’t get it.”
Tapper noted that the defense held Brampton to 11 shots in the first two periods, so he was happy with that, but knows the offense needs oiling.
“(Rodrigues’ pipe shot) could have been a momentum-killer for them right off the start,” he said. “I believe in puck luck and bounces, but you have to create them yourself by hard work, and I thought we got outworked tonight.”