GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Thunder’s “reward” for winning the ECHL’s North Division last season is to travel to the division’s two new teams to start the regular season.
That begins with a 6 p.m. game Saturday at Maine. The Mariners will have one especially familiar face in Terrence Wallin, an alternate captain this season who spent parts of the last three seasons with the Thunder.
For the most part, however, the Thunder are concerned with how they play and correcting the mistakes that led to a pair of 6-3 exhibition losses to Reading.
“We worked on defending rushes and playing in zone, five on five, people knowing where to be,” defenseman Desmond Bergin said of the team’s focus in practice this week.
Bergin said players adjusting to where to be and making turnovers led to Reading’s output.
“The repercussions of making a mistake,” he said.
“I think it was a great learning experience for our younger guys of just how you manage a hockey game and manage the puck,” coach Alex Loh said. “I think at times we played really well and did what we needed to do, and other times we had some bad turnovers, and Reading is a good team to learn from that they will end up in the back of your net in a hurry.”
The opening-night roster doesn’t look dramatically different from the one that started training camp. Only goalie Ian Sylves, defenseman Al Graves and forward Nolan Sheeran — all on tryouts — were cut.
The roster includes goalies Colton Phinney and Alex Sakellaropoulos; defensemen Matias Cleland, Jake Linhart, Jordan McNaughton, Kelly Summers, Blake Thompson and Bergin; and forwards Cullen Bradshaw, Shane Conacher, John Edwardh, Shane Eiserman, James Henry, Dennis Kravchenko, Peter MacArthur, Daniel Perigo, Jakob Reichert, Conor Riley, Matt Salhany, Mike Szmatula and Brian Ward. On reserve are forward Nikolas Olsson and defenseman Mike Sdao.
Eleven of the 23 players have skated with the Thunder in previous seasons. Seven players also have seen time in the American Hockey League.
It’s those veterans that Loh is glad to have, such as Peter MacArthur, James Henry and Brian Ward, to bring the newcomers up to speed.
“I think we have a good group of guys that have been in the league for a little while. Having them help out with instructing the younger guys and sort of leading the way is really helpful,” Loh said.
Loh added that he’s also been trying to emphasize the Thunder way of playing team hockey.
Still, the Thunder are likely to face quite a reception at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, which seats 6,206, so there is a little of the unknown.
“Hockey is hockey,” Bergin said. “In the end it comes down to who makes more plays and less mistakes, or if the goalie steals one. But yeah, it’s always exciting to get the season started against some new teams.”
The Thunder travel to Newfoundland for a pair of games Tuesday and Wednesday.