GLENS FALLS — The win came with some unorthodox contributions, but it came just the same, and that’s all that matters to the Adirondack Thunder.
With captain James Henry scoring one goal during a shorthanded situation and getting another off the back of his leg, Adirondack topped Maine 3-2 in ECHL action Wednesday at Cool Insuring Arena. The victory broke a three-game home losing streak and prevented the Thunder from losing four consecutive home games for the first time in their fourth year as a franchise.
“We’ve had a few too many games here at home where we’re not bearing down on those scoring chances, or the puck luck isn’t happening for us,” said Henry, who notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season. “So getting those bounces tonight gives us a little boost of momentum and some confidence scoring goals.”
Maine led 1-0 halfway through the first period, but the Thunder tied it when Peter MacArthur scored his sixth of the season on a slap shot from the left circle for a power-play goal at 17:19. MacArthur, who’s been in a bit of a scoring drought, lifted his arms and eyes skyward after scoring.
Adirondack, on a penalty kill, took a 2-1 lead at 1:55 of the second when the recently hot Mike Szmatula dug out a puck and got it to Henry down low. The captain quickly went to net and stuffed it past Connor LaCouvee.
Szmatula has 11 points over his last six games.
It was also noteworthy to score a power-play goal on Maine, which entered the game with a league-best penalty kill of 93.9 percent.
The Thunder’s third goal gave them hope that maybe fate was on their side. MacArthur carried the puck for a time and got it to Blake Thompson, who sent a pass to Jakob Reichert just in the slot. Reichert redirected it toward the goal and it went off Henry’s leg and in.
“Go to the net and try to do something good, and off Reichert’s stick and off the back of my leg,” Henry said. “Just kind of a fortunate bounce. I kind of laughed, stealing a goal from Reichert, but we looked at the replay and I think it was probably going wide if I didn’t touch it.”
“Any time we see a good bounce, we always bring it back to the fact that somebody did something right so you end up on the right side of those bounces,” Thunder coach Alex Loh said. “We wanted that high tip, so Reichert did that and we had net-front presence, and because those two things happened it ended up in the back of the net.”
It was an outstanding game for Alex Sakellaropoulos, who made 31 saves — a lot of them on clear or difficult shots. He only faced five shots in the first period, but got up to 20 by the end of the second.
“Those are the tough nights, when you don’t see a lot of action and everything’s high quality,” Sakellaropoulos said. “That’s just something you’ve got to mentally prepare for and it went our way tonight.”
Former Thunder Terrence Wallin cut the Thunder’s lead to 3-2 in the third period, and they played a fair share of defense in the final 20 minutes, but kept Maine at bay.
Loh said the coaches didn’t say anything about needing a win at home, but he knows the players know.
“November was a tough month for us, especially at home,” Sakellaropoulos said. “Coming out the early part of December and getting one at home is huge for us.”