GLENS FALLS — Maybe it was the unique uniforms the Adirondack Thunder wore Saturday. When a team wears bright yellow jerseys adorned with SpongeBob SquarePants characters, it’s probably a sign of impending wackiness.
And there was plenty of it in the Thunder’s 7-6 shootout loss to Allen. On the one hand, there were defensive miscues that would make one scream and moments when Thunder goalie Eamon McAdam (39 saves) made saves he almost had no business making to keep Allen from hitting double digits. On the other hand, Adirondack’s offense hadn’t looked this good in a while.
But it was ultimately a mixed bag. On the minus side, it was Adirondack’s fifth straight defeat and fifth consecutive loss at home, where they fell to 4-6-1-2.
On the plus side, they earned a point, which is vital as they try to hold off Maine and retain their fourth-place position in the North Division. They also matched the season high for goals in a game. And they went 3 for 4 on the ever-improving power play, which 10 days ago was the worst in the league.
“We didn’t really want to get into a horse race with them,” said Thunder defenseman Colby Sissons, who finished with a goal and three assists. “It’s kind of the same story as the last few games. Defensively, we’re letting our goalies out to dry.
“There was quite a few plays made today,” Sissons added, “mistakes on each side, but it made for an exciting game for the fans. Not what the coaches want to see, I’m assuming.”
Allen had a 2-0 lead midway through the first period and momentum on its side when the Thunder’s Alexandre Carrier earned a boarding major and game misconduct at 13:44. But the Thunder’s five-minute penalty kill was as good as it has been all season in denying the Americans any quality shots and kept the score at 2-0 after the period.
“That’s the first thing coach (Alex Loh) said when he walked in (the locker room),” Thunder defenseman Jake Linhart said. “It’s a huge momentum shift. That was a really good kill by everyone and everyone contributed.”
The Thunder tied it by 6:21 of the second period on goals by Sissons and Charlie Curti, but Allen answered on two bad defensive efforts, with Cole Fraser scoring his second of the game for Allen to make it 4-2 on a shot taken in the middle of four Thunder.
But Adirondack’s power play struck for its second goal of the night at 12:38 as James Henry redirected a pass into the goal.
The teams then traded two more goals before the period finished, with defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst closing Allen’s lead to 5-4 with 3 seconds left.
Mike Szmatula’s hard wrister gave Adirondack its third power-play goal and a 5-5 tie at 5:58 of the third, but Alex Guptill — who also had the only goal in the shootout — put the Americans up 6-5 on an open backhanded rebound in the slot two minutes later.
The Thunder forced the overtime thanks to Matt Salhany’s seventh goal of the season from the left circle with 4:34 left.
Both Allen’s Jake Paterson (34 saves) and McAdam were sensational in overtime.
“It feels like a roller coaster,” Loh said of the game. “Obviously it’s nice to score the goals. That’s something we’ve struggled with a bit lately. Good to get that side of things. We obviously have a lot to do to clean up on the defensive side, but at least we were able to put the puck in the net a few more times.”
There were moments when Adirondack’s miscues looked like a lack of communication. Loh said that’s only partly the case.
“I think they had some bounces that ended up on their stick, so that’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to pick up a guy when the puck is around the net and figure out at least how to not give them an open look,” Loh said.
NOTES: Goalie Evan Cormier began Saturday morning by being called up to AHL affiliate Binghamton, but the New Jersey Devils later on promoted him to the parent club, for whom he was scheduled to be in uniform Saturday night against Arizona.
Follow Will Springstead on Twitter @WSpringsteadPSV.
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