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Thunder look to get on track after break

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After three losses in four games going into the ECHL All-Star break, the Adirondack Thunder hope to get back on track in this weekend’s three-game slate.

The Thunder open with a challenge against the North Division-leading Reading Royals, set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Cool Insuring Arena. They follow with a pair of road games Saturday and Sunday at last-place Worcester.

Adirondack — sitting in fifth place in the North Division at 13-12-2 — last played on Jan. 12, a 6-2 loss at Reading in which the Thunder were undermanned.

“With injuries and callups, we were down four or five regular forwards,” head coach Alex Loh said. “We didn’t play very well, and we didn’t have the horses to get back.”

The Thunder got some players back on the ice this week, including All-Star defenseman Joe Masonius, goalie Brandon Kasel, and forwards Luke Stevens and Ryan Smith. Forwards Colin Long and Pete MacArthur are still on the injured list.

Forward Tyler Irvine, who has racked up 23 points this season, stayed up with the AHL’s Utica Comets, but the Comets sent down forward Patrick McGrath for his first assignment in Glens Falls. McGrath, a 28-year-old winger, played in 12 games in Utica but is yet to score.

“He has a history as a tough guy,” Loh said of McGrath, who has bounced between the ECHL and AHL since 2013-14. “(The Comets) want to get his confidence back and get him more time on the ice. We’re excited to get him.”

Goalie Mareks Mitens, who was off to a strong start with the Thunder before being called up to Utica in early December, also returned to Adirondack.

Last week, the Thunder signed 35-year-old South Glens Falls native Shawn Weller, who had been playing for the ECHL’s Kansas City team. Weller was placed on reserve earlier this week.

“He’s working his way back here — he’s driving back and it made sense to let him get healthy before he gets back on the ice,” Loh said. “He’s a veteran. We have a mix of young and old on this team, and he knows this level of hockey. He’s never actually played in front of his home crowd, so he’s going to be motivated. Our forward group is really strong.”

Friday night, the Thunder face a Reading team that has gotten hot, improving to 15-8-4-1, good for 35 points — three points ahead of Newfoundland for first place in the North Division. The Thunder are in fifth, but only seven points behind the Royals.

“They got some guys back and they’ve been able to get on a roll,” Loh said. “They’re another good team in our division. There isn’t a lot separating the teams in our division. We’ll have to bring the energy right away and get back to defending as well as we were when we won six in a row.”

Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.

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Covering high school and minor-league sports in Section II since 1989. SUNY Plattsburgh grad. Colleen's lesser half. Three amazing young people call me Dad. Fan of Philadelphia Eagles, New York Rangers and Mets, and Syracuse Orange.

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The Adirondack Thunder lost for the fourth straight time and sixth time in their last seven games with a 3-2 loss at Worcester on Saturday night.

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