GLENS FALLS — Not too long ago after a loss, Adirondack Thunder coach Alex Loh said that in the future his team might need to start playing with some desperation.
Even though the Thunder started Friday’s game in third place in the ECHL’s North Division, they put on a “nothing-is-guaranteed” performance in topping Brampton 3-2 before 4,069 fans at Cool Insuring Arena.
“It was a little bit of desperation, I’d say,” said defenseman Jake Linhart, who notched the Thunder’s third goal. “We talked about that before the game. We need to get three wins this weekend to clinch (the playoffs), so that’s our goal.”
The Thunder used a 2-0 first period to help earn the victory — a big deal to this team, which is 21-3-1-0 when leading after the opening period and 4-17-0-2 when trailing.
John Edwardh got credit for Adirondack’s first goal at 9:02 on the power play, as his centering pass deflected off a Brampton defenseman’s stick.
At 19:16, James Henry earned his 50th assist of the season by finding a cutting Brian Ward, who deked Brampton goalie Etienne Marcoux and backhanded one by him.
“It’s nice to get a couple breaks against that team — we haven’t seemed to get them so far this year,” Loh said. “I didn’t really address (a good first period), almost more tried to take the pressure off the guys a little bit.”
Linhart scored Adirondack’s second power-play goal of the game seconds after missing a good chance. Cullen Bradshaw retrieved a puck behind the goal and found a wide-open Linhart in the slot. He one-timed it home at 11:58 of the third period.
Brampton, which put on a third-period rush, answered 17 seconds later as Boston Leier snuck one under Arthur Brey, who was outstanding in goal for Adirondack. Brey saved 25 shots, including a breakaway of David Vallorani about 40 seconds into the third period.
Nathan Todd’s rebound with 2 minutes left made it 3-2. Brampton skated the final 1:38 with an extra forward and an empty net, but the Thunder defense held strong.
Brey said it was his biggest win to date.
“As a goalie when you see the boys working hard to get that first goal, takes some pressure off your back,” Brey said. “When we got up on ‘em early, I just kept breathing, doing my job and they just kept scoring, so it was easy.”
“He’s been working hard, he’s been making big saves,” Loh said of Brey. “He certainly earned the opportunity and tonight he took advantage of it.”
Adirondack limited Brampton to 14 shots through two periods. The Beast charged back with 14 in the last period, but Linhart said that’s more like what the Thunder’s defense is capable of.
“I think when our ‘D’ plays like it did the first two periods, we shut ‘em down pretty good. Obviously they had their pushback in the third, but I thought we handled it pretty well and came out with a win,” Linhart said.
The evening worked out as well as it could have for Adirondack in the standings. Its win not only kept Brampton stuck, but gave the Thunder 78 points, retaking second place from Manchester, which lost to already-clinched Newfoundland. Also, last-place Reading topped Maine, not allowing the fourth-place Mariners to inch closer.
NOTES: The Thunder got great minutes from the surprise starting forward line of Dylan Walchuk, Matt Salhany and Bradshaw, supplemented by Alexandre Carrier, who played there when Salhany missed the second period with a facial injury. The line was active throughout the game and proved to be a nuisance to the Beast.