GLENS FALLS — Wednesday was a microcosm of the Adirondack Thunder’s season.
Everything was going well. Until it wasn’t and the other team scored.
As a result of Maine’s 4-1 win over Adirondack, the Mariners moved ahead of the Thunder for fourth place in the North Division for the second time this season. Maine now has 39 points on the strength of 19 wins. Adirondack stayed at 38 points with only 14 wins and four more games played, meaning the potential last playoff spot is there for Maine’s taking.
A lot of things have been there for Adirondack (14-17-5-5) to take this season, but they can all be filed under: advantage. And when it comes to taking advantage, the Thunder’s opponents this season have written the book.
For instance, Maine had a 1-0 lead after the first period despite only taking four shots. The one it scored on was the only tester of the bunch. But it came on a two-on-one as a result of a turnover from Tommy Parran after the Thunder won the faceoff in Maine’s zone.
The Thunder tied it at 1 just 56 seconds into the second on a nifty power-play goal from Charlie Curti, who wristed one home after taking Colby Sissons’ circle-to-circle pass.
It was Curti’s seventh goal, the most of any Thunder defenseman.
“It’s great any time you can get those opportunities, but we’d like to see more wins,” Curti said. “Tonight was a tough one. So we’re looking to bounce back Friday with a better effort on special teams and just all-around.”
Things got worse for the Thunder when defenseman Blake Thompson got boarded hard and left the game with 9:53 left in the second period, leaving the team with only five defensemen, as recent acquisition Alex Jaeckle hasn’t arrived yet.
“It affects the rhythm a little bit,” Curti said of playing with five defensemen. “It kind of gets guys more involved in the game. In this league you’re playing a lot of games and are fatigued, so it doesn’t really change much. We know we have a job to do and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing with.”
Maine went ahead 2-1 on Alex Kile’s first of two goals, five seconds into a power play at 6:04 of the third. Later in the period, the Thunder had 27 seconds of a five-on-three advantage and another 1:33 of five on four, but only generated one shot on goal.
And then when the Thunder found themselves in the penalty box, Maine struck again, with Ty Ronning scoring while unexplainably open in the slot.
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“You can play well for 59 minutes and play bad for one minute and lose the game,” Curti said. “Just playing a more complete effort and never showing any weakness because in this league, players are too good. If you do show any weakness, they’ll take advantage.
That’s a line the Thunder have said a lot this season. And even the addition of forward John Edwardh — one of the offensive stars of last year’s team — couldn’t change that script Wednesday.
“We just have to be better on the penalty kill there,” Thunder coach Alex Loh said. “Obviously, they beat us on the special teams battle, so it’s certainly something we’ll look at moving forward.”
Mariners 4, Thunder 1
Maine 1 0 3 — 4
Adirondack 0 1 0 — 1
First Period: 1, Maine, Ronning 6 (B.Hart), 19:04.
Second Period: 2, Adirondack, Curti 7 (Sissons, Szmatula), 9:51 (pp).
Third Period: 3, Maine, Kile 9 (Culkin, Tolkinen), 6:04 (pp). 4, Maine, Ronning 7 (Culkin, McNicholas), 14:40 (pp). 5, Maine, Kile 10 (T.Hart), 17:57 (en).
Power-play Opportunities: Maine 2-4. Adirondack 1-6.
Goalies-saves: Maine, Brassard (29 shots-28 saves). Adirondack, McAdam (17-14).
Follow Will Springstead on Twitter @WSpringsteadPSV.