GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Thunder played a decent first period Wednesday, but trailed Florida 2-0. They played an outstanding second period and tied it 2-2.
A third period, however, that could be best described as, “eh,” did the Thunder in. The Everblades got an early third-period goal and hung on for the 3-2 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Cool Insuring Arena. Florida has a 2-1 series lead entering Friday’s Game 4 back here.
“I can’t understand it, especially at home,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “I thought we’d have more energy in the third period.
“Second period we were the team that we know we are,” Tapper continued, “And then in the third period for some reason, which is unacceptable, we didn’t play very well. They looked like the Harlem Globetrotters, we looked like the Washington Generals.”
Florida continued its first-period dominance, as it has now outscored opponents 12-3 in the playoffs. It got out to a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Gus Young, who wristed one past Drew Fielding at 6:05 for his second goal of the playoffs.
The Everblades made it 2-0 just 1:42 later when Logan Roe scored on a long wrister both assisted and screened by Michael Kirkpatrick. It was Kirkpatrick’s team-high 16th point of the playoffs.
The second period showed why rookie Ryan Schmelzer has been such a valuable pickup for the Thunder after he finished his season with Canisius College. He set up Adirondack’s first goal by carrying the puck into the offensive zone, then digging it out from the boards and backhanding a pass to Terrence Wallin, who one-timed it past Martin Ouellette (29 saves) for his fifth playoff goal 59 seconds into the period.
Schmelzer scored the second goal — his team-high ninth of the playoffs, which tied him with Kirkpatrick and Fort Wayne’s Gabriel Desjardins for most goals in the playoffs — at 4:36 by skating into the zone with the puck, getting by his defenseman at an angle and then cutting in sharply toward the goal before poking it in.
“Second period, being down maybe, gave us some energy and got us going,” Schmelzer said. “I set pretty high expectations for myself, but mostly just doing what the team asks me. If that’s scoring goals, if that’s blocking shots, being a good teammate. That’s my mindset. I’m just taking it one game at a time and results are happening right now.”
Adirondack had to kill 1:36 of a power play to start the third, and Florida scored merely six seconds after the penalty expired, as John McCarron skated across the slot and poked home a rebound for his eighth playoff tally.
“I think we were a little undisciplined in the second period,” Everblades coach Brad Ralph said, “so I think it was a great way for our group to respond in the third period with an intelligent game.”
The Thunder showed some energy during a four-on-four stretch with around five minutes remaining, but that was about the only time. Florida did a good job possessing the puck, most especially late in the game, not allowing Fielding (23 saves) a chance to go to the bench for another skater until there were 25 seconds left. And the Thunder immediately committed an offsides violation, so back he went for the ensuing faceoff.
“I thought we managed the puck well and were able to get pucks deep,” Ralph said. “We seemed to wear the clock down quite a bit by just possessing the puck down low.”
As for the Thunder, their third-period effort left them perplexed. Wallin said sometimes an early goal in a period, like the Everblades’ one in the third, can seep into the backs of minds.
“If it did, we can’t let that happen,” he said. “I thought we were doing a good job just playing hockey, but obviously we weren’t winning battles in the third. Our bench was a little dead. We seem to play our best when our bench is talking and yapping.”
NOTES: It was a switch of Bergins on Wednesday, as captain Mike Bergin returned to the active roster, while Desmond Bergin went on reserve.
Everblades 3, Thunder 2
Florida 2 0 1 — 3
Adirondack 0 2 0 — 2
First period — 1, Florida, Young 2 (Warning), 6:05 (pp). 2, Florida, Roe 1 (Kirkpatrick, Heard), 7:47. Penalties — Dziurzynski, Fla (boarding), 0:29; Harrison, Adk (elbowing), 4:40; Harrison, Adk (holding), 18:08.
Second period — 3, Adirondack, Wallin 5 (Schmelzer), 0:59. 4, Adirondack, Schmelzer 9 (Orszulak, Spencer), 4:36. Penalties — Seymour, Fla (roughing), 5:53; Kirkpatrick, Fla (delay of game), 7:43; Seymour, Fla (slashing), 9:22; Heard, Fla (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:17; Young, Fla (slashing), 12:17; Orszulak, Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:17; Ward, Adk (interference), 19:35.
Third period — 5, Florida, McCarron 8 (Warning, Smallman), 1:42. Penalties — Smallman, Fla (hooking), 5:34; Heard, Fla (roughing), 14:37; Wallin, Adk (roughing), 14:37.
Shots on Goal — Florida 11-9-6-26. Adirondack 12-14-5-31.
Power Plays — Florida 1-3; Adirondack 0-6.
Goalies — Florida, Ouellette (31 shots-29 saves). Adirondack, Fielding (26 shots-23 saves).
A — 2,503.
Refs — Tyler Puddifant, Stephen Thomson.