GLENS FALLS — Few players entered the ECHL all-star break hotter than the Adirondack Thunder’s James Henry. So in hindsight, maybe it was a diabolical plot by the other divisions’ all-stars to keep him away. That, or Henry used up all his bad luck in one journey.
Either way, the result was that Henry missed the North Division’s all-star semifinal Monday in Indianapolis and only made it in time to compete in the breakaway challenge a little later. But he’s safely back in Glens Falls now, prepared to join his teammates for Friday’s home game against Brampton.
Henry’s travel woes began after the Thunder’s 6-5 loss to Brampton on Sunday afternoon. He was supposed to leave on a flight from the Toronto airport at about 8 p.m., but that got delayed. He missed his connecting flight in Chicago because of the first delay, but got put up in a hotel for a few hours before a 7 a.m. Monday flight to Indianapolis, which should have arrived at 9 a.m.
Naturally, that one got delayed also, but Henry still was scheduled to reach Indianapolis by 10 a.m. — three hours before the North’s semifinal.
“When we got in the air and were coming into Indy, the visibility was so poor that we had to circle Indianapolis a few times, and we couldn’t land there, so they brought us over to Cincinnati,” Henry said.
By the time the plane left Cincinnati for Indianapolis, Henry knew there was no way he’d make it for the North Division’s semifinal against the South. He did reach the arena in time for his skills competition, which allowed him a few chances on goalies, so it wasn’t a complete loss.
“My fiancee was able to come, so it’s good I wasn’t pulling my hair out all by myself on all those flights,” Henry said. “She kept me in check on that. It was good that I wasn’t on my own and she was back here or something. We got to spend some time together.”
Henry was a runner-up for Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for Jan. 8-14, with three goals and four assists in three games. He has 13 goals and 22 assists for the Thunder (22-16-1-2) this season, and his 35 points rank second on the team, or first among players who will suit up against Brampton, as leading point-scorer Shane Conacher was called up to Syracuse, of the AHL, on Thursday. It will be Conacher’s second stint with the Crunch this season. His first one lasted three games.
The Thunder are just one of two ECHL teams to have played a league-high 41 games so far. That leaves just 31 after the all-star break, while most teams have played in the mid- to high-30s. Combine that with the fact that the Thunder resumed practice Thursday, and they should be well rested for what they hope will be a drive to the postseason.
“We’ve been hit with some injuries all at the same time rather than one here and one there,” Henry said. “I think these three days off will do a lot of good for our group, for guys to kind of recoup and have 72 hours of no contact.
NOTES: The Thunder had a bunch of transactions Thursday. One day after adding defenseman Dylan Olsen, returned from a loan to Binghamton, they added defenseman Desmond Bergin, put defenseman Conor Riley on reserve and added — then later released — emergency backup goalie Peter Fitzgerald. Also, forward Ben Murphy has left the team to play with a Norwegian team.