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Adirondack Thunder

WORCESTER, Mass. — It appears the Adirondack Thunder poked the bear on Friday night with their 3-0 win over Worcester.

Because what was waiting for them were 4,108 loud fans at the DCU Center and a Railers team determined to show they were better. And Saturday, they clearly were, beating the Thunder 2-0 and evening the ECHL North Division semifinals at one game apiece.

The glaring statistic of the game was a 27-14 shot advantage for Worcester. That’s seven shots fewer than the Thunder’s previous low during the regular season. Part of that was the Railers’ improved defense. Part of it was Adirondack trying to be perfect, when good might have sufficed.

“There were opportunities we turn up a chance to shoot the puck,” Thunder forward James Henry said. “A combination of that and them protecting the house, blocking shots, things like that, that’s something we’re going to have to make adjustments for.”

“We faced a team that was a little more hungry, they were (ticked) off losing the first one, and they’re in their own building,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “We need to be focused a little better. I thought we got a little distracted and a little frustrated at the same time, like they did the night before.”

The game started out clean, without a penalty in the first period, but the tempers flared for the rest of the game, with the eight penalties called a show of restraint by the officials.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re cool in a lot of situations,” Tapper said. “The refs are going to make bad calls, they’re human, and we’re going to make bad decisions as coaches. Players make bad decisions with the puck, we’re all human. We’ve got to fight through the little things.”

The Railers scored their first goal at 7:40 of the second period, when forward Woody Hudson kept poking at a loose puck at the left pipe until he stuffed it in past Mackenzie Blackwood.

It stayed 1-0 for most of the rest of the game, as Blackwood (25 saves) made several dynamite saves to keep Adirondack in it.

With Adirondack on a late power play, however, the luck and the puck went the Railers’ way. With Blackwood pulled for an extra skater, Worcester tried to clear the puck. A Thunder player jumped to grab it and keep it inside the blue line, but he only knocked it right to Worcester’s Barry Almeida, who controlled it and broke away for a short-handed empty-net goal with 45 seconds left.

“We just have to make a couple of adjustments,” Henry said. “You look at their goal: just a down-low play jamming at the puck. If we cancel that out, we might be in overtime now, you never know. That’s a hard-working goal and we’re going to have to outwork them, and those are the facts going into the next game.”

There isn’t much time before Sunday’s 5:05 p.m. faceoff. But that, too, is nothing new for Adirondack, which played three games in three days nine times during the regular season.

“We’re a team that’s resilient, we’re a team that responds all the time, so you know what, we’re going to put our best foot forward (Sunday) and respond,” Tapper said.

NOTES: The transactions keep happening. On Saturday morning, the Thunder announced that the Syracuse Crunch had called up goaltender Olivier Mantha. With Drew Fielding on the injured reserve, the Thunder signed Nick Niedert as an emergency backup goalie.

Railers 2, Thunder 0

Adirondack 0 0 0 — 0

Worcester 0 1 1 — 2

First Period — No Scoring.Penalties — No Penalties

Second Period — 1, Worcester, Hudson 1 (Willick, Turcotte), 7:40. Penalties — Rodrigues Adk (cross-checking), 8:37; Hudson Wor (high-sticking), 10:23; Riley Adk (roughing), 12:27; Doherty Wor (roughing), 12:27; Turcotte Wor (roughing), 12:27; Riley Adk (holding), 18:17.

Third Period — 2, Worcester, Almeida 1 19:14 (SH EN). Penalties — Masella Wor (boarding), 9:28; Hudson Wor (roughing), 17:23.

Shots on Goal — Adirondack 4-6-4-14. Worcester 10-11-6-27.

Power Play Opportunities — Adirondack 0-4; Worcester 0-2.

Goalies — Adirondack, Blackwood (26 shots-25 saves). Worcester, Gillam (14 shots-14 saves).

A — 4,108

Referees — Matt Menniti (10), Peter Schlittenhardt (23).

Linesmen — AJ Potvin (78), Nathan Frechette (30).

Railers 2, Thunder 0

Adirondack 0 0 0 — 0

Worcester 0 1 1 — 2

First Period — No Scoring.Penalties — No Penalties

Second Period — 1, Worcester, Hudson 1 (Willick, Turcotte), 7:40. Penalties — Rodrigues Adk (cross-checking), 8:37; Hudson Wor (high-sticking), 10:23; Riley Adk (roughing), 12:27; Doherty Wor (roughing), 12:27; Turcotte Wor (roughing), 12:27; Riley Adk (holding), 18:17.

Third Period — 2, Worcester, Almeida 1 19:14 (SH EN). Penalties — Masella Wor (boarding), 9:28; Hudson Wor (roughing), 17:23.

Shots on Goal — Adirondack 4-6-4-14. Worcester 10-11-6-27.

Power Play Opportunities — Adirondack 0-4; Worcester 0-2.

Goalies — Adirondack, Blackwood (26 shots-25 saves). Worcester, Gillam (14 shots-14 saves).

A — 4,108

Referees — Matt Menniti (10), Peter Schlittenhardt (23).

Linesmen — AJ Potvin (78), Nathan Frechette (30).

Follow Will Springstead on Twitter @WSpringsteadPSV.

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