GLENS FALLS — You could make the case that the banners hanging in Cool Insuring Arena were uneven, there being an odd-numbered five of them.
A most important sixth one was added Saturday night, as a banner honoring the late Bill Dineen was unfurled on the far right. The banner honoring the late, longtime Adirondack Red Wings coach had the familiar Red Wings logo on top. Underneath, it read: BILL DINEEN, Calder Cup Champion, 1985-86, 1988-89.
The tribute to Dineen started with a video, featuring black-and-white still photos of Dineen and his time in Glens Falls. Following with video tributes were former Red Wing player and coach Barry Melrose; son Jerry Dineen, now the New York Rangers video coach; son Gord Dineen, an assistant coach with the Rochester Americans; and son Kevin Dineen, an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. All the sons mentioned how important the Glens Falls area had been to the family since it chose to live there.
Other family members then came onto the ice for the banner’s unfurling. Son Peter Dineen addressed the crowd and thanked the Thunder, as well as the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition for keeping hockey in Glens Falls and the tribute to his father.
“It’s a great honor for our family,” said Peter Dineen, who later noted that when his dad got “called up” to the NHL to coach the Philadelphia Flyers at age 57, Bill Dineen’s wife expressed her pleasure but reminded him “you’re coming back to Glens Falls.”
Kevin Dineen’s video tribute mentioned how he hoped the Thunder got two points Saturday night, and they obliged, defeating Norfolk 4-2.
The ceremony highlighting some of Adirondack’s glory days seemed to help the Thunder, who were coming off a bad 5-1 loss to Reading the night before.
After playing Norfolk even 1-1 in the first period, Adirondack scored twice in 43 seconds in the second period to keep the momentum for good. Brian Ward scored on a rebound at 5:17 to put the Thunder up 2-1.
Less than a minute later, Desmond Bergin made a sharp cross-ice pass to a streaking Eric Neiley, who scored to the near side.
“We played a more structured hockey game today,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “The effort was there and the attitude from the guys was even better. That was key to the game: our response from last night.”
Tim Harrison made it 4-1 early in the third when he poked in the puck, sitting in the crease, while falling down.
Both Norfolk goals, especially the first one, were flukey, so it didn’t take anything off the shine of Thunder goalie Drew Fielding. Starting the night after he relieved Nick Riopel, Fielding played very well in making 30 saves.
“It was good for the team to come through with a really strong effort,” Fielding said. “I think we showed our mental strength, which was one of the things coach Dineen took pride in as well.”
“It was nice having that ceremony before the game and having a night to honor him,” Ward said. “The guys responded well; I’m glad we could get a ‘W’ for him.”