GLENS FALLS — Adirondack Thunder coach Brad Tapper is a big believer in taking the puck, as well as bodies, north to the goal.
Tapper and the Thunder haven’t gotten a compass sponsorship yet, but they’ll gladly take Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Worcester at Cool Insuring Arena in its stead. It was the Thunder’s second straight win and fourth in the last five ECHL games.
The Thunder (13-9-1-1) now have 28 points, tied with Reading for third most in the North Division.
All three Thunder goals were examples of Tapper and assistant Alex Loh’s teachings, as players rushed into the plays and were rewarded with good looks and goals.
Defenseman Conor Riley notched his first goal of the year at 10:52 of the second period when he cut hard toward the goal, got Andrew Radjenovic’s pass and scored.
“Coach is always stressing four guys getting into the play and it obviously showed tonight with Riles picking up that goal,” said Radjenovic, who had two assists.
After a scoreless first period, Riley’s goal started a scoring barrage. The Railers tied it at 12:10, but the Thunder retook the lead at 15:22. James Henry’s pass from behind the goal found Eric Neiley in front of the crease, and Neiley one-timed it in on the far side for his eighth of the season.
Worcester answered at 16:54 to finish the second-period scoring knotted at 2.
Radjenovic found a cutting Terrence Wallin in the slot, and Wallin scored his seventh of the season at 5:03 of the third for the game’s final tally.
“We’re a puck possession team,” Tapper said. “Just don’t give up the puck easily (and have) the mindset, we need to go north as quickly as possible. We can’t keep going east and west and turning pucks over.”
Tapper said with the team’s lineup changing so much because of injuries and call-ups, what helped earn the win Wednesday was that everybody chipped in at certain times. Defenseman Travis Armstrong just joined the team officially Wednesday morning, and he spent a good deal of time on the ice.
“We have a lot of guys stepping in, and guys are getting bigger opportunities, bigger roles to fill,” Riley said. “Everyone stepped up.”
The door has swung both ways in a season thick with transactions for the Thunder, and there may be more coming. Defenseman Stephen Johnson and the Railers’ Nick Saracino both crashed into the boards hard during a hit in the second period, causing both to miss the rest of the game.
Drew Fielding again played well, making 29 saves, as he seems to have moved into the No. 1 goalie’s spot. On Monday, the Thunder added goalie Chris Nell from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, which caused Nick Riopel, the No. 1 goalie in the early part of the season, to be put on reserve Wednesday. Also, forward Austin Orszulak (two goals, three assists in 14 games) was on reserve.
The Thunder host Worcester again Friday.
Thunder 3, Railers 2
Worcester 0 2 0 — 2
Adirondack 0 2 1 — 3
First Period — None. Penalties — Henry, Adk (tripping), 8:34; McNally, Wor (interference), 13:28; Riley, Adk (holding), 18:32.
Second Period — 1, Adirondack, Riley 1 (Radjenovic), 10:52. 2, Worcester, Jones 5 (Gaudreau, Langkow), 12:10. 3, Adirondack, Neiley 8 (Henry, Cote), 15:22. 4, Worcester, Syner 3 (Hamonic, Almeida), 16:54. Penalties — Cullity, Wor (interference), 3:09; Cornell, Wor, major-misconduct (fighting), 19:14; Neiley, Adk, major (fighting), 19:14.
Third Period — 5, Adirondack, Wallin 7 (Radjenovic, Riley), 5:03. Penalties — Riley, Adk (delay of game), 10:18.
Shots on Goal — Worcester 9-15-7-31. Adirondack 18-18-4-40.
Power Plays — Worcester 0-3; Adirondack 0-2.
Goalies — Worcester, McAdam 5-5-2-2 (40 shots-37 saves). Adirondack, Fielding 4-2-0-0 (31 shots-29 saves).
Ref — Alex Garon.