GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Thunder didn’t look sharp Tuesday, so they turned to grinding instead.
Ty Loney scored on a rebound with 36.7 seconds left to give the Thunder a 3-2 win over Reading in an ECHL game at Cool Insuring Arena. The victory also gave the Thunder a share of first place, along with Manchester and Wheeling, in the ever-tight North Division.
It’s the Thunder’s first time holding a share of first place since Oct. 21.
“Right place, right time,” Loney said of his team-high 19th goal. “Really sloppy game, a lot of turnovers. We’ve got to be better.”
The Royals took a 1-0 lead at 6:38 of the first period on Matt Willows’ goal. The Thunder answered at 18:55 when Pierre-Luc Mercier’s low-angle shot from the right side beat Reading goalie John Muse to the near side for his 12th of the season.
Adirondack (25-17-2-2) took a 2-1 lead at 5:28 of the second when Desmond Bergin scored his ninth of the season on a shot that hit the top pipe and bounced down behind the line — some poetic justice after his first shot of the game clanged off the top pipe and stayed out.
“(Dylan) Olsen made a nice cross-ice pass to me and I saw a little opening. It happened to go in,” Bergin said.
Tyler Brown’s top-shelf goal at 15:30 of the second tied it at 2.
The signs weren’t good for the Thunder in the third. Their passes were off and their two power-play attempts looked unorganized.
“Ugly win,” Thunder coach Brad Tapper said. “We didn’t play very well. I think that (Florida) series took a lot out of us and the quick turnaround.”
“We’ve been getting lucky, but it’s kind of tough to keep scoring goals in the last minute of games to either win it or tie it, but I guess it was nice tonight,” Bergin said.
Loney said the multiple turnovers — and he blamed himself for several — were just mental lapses.
“Like I had at least three where I should’ve either shot the puck or I missed the net a couple times,” Loney said. “If we can clean that up, make the simple play, just chip the puck and go to work, we’ll be a lot better off.”
Tapper noticed that his team “didn’t have that oomph,” but was proud it found a way to win.
“They’re resilient again. They know in that room we need to be better,” Tapper said.
On the plus side, with the low shot total (Adirondack outshot Reading 26-17) and having to fight for anything given against a divisional opponent, it did feel like a playoff win for the Thunder.
“Bad game or good game, if you can find a way to win, then it’s good at the end of the day,” Loney said.
NOTES: Forward Brian Ward had four goals and seven points from three games last week, earning him the Sher-Wood ECHL Player of the Week. It was the second league-wide honor of his career.
Thunder 3, Royals 2
Reading 1 1 0 — 2
Adirondack 1 1 1 — 3
First Period — 1, Reading, Willows 14 (Cleland, Zajac), 6:38. 2, Adirondack, Mercier 12 (Loney, Bergin), 18:56. Penalties — None.
Second Period — 3, Adirondack, Bergin 9 (Olsen, Mercier), 5:28. 4, Reading, Brown 3 (Wilkins, Willows), 15:30. Penalties — None.
Third Period — 5, Adirondack, Loney 19 (Brodeur), 19:23. Penalties — Tanski, Rea (tripping), 9:52; Huntebrinker, Rea (delay of game), 15:10.
Shots on Goal — Reading 2-11-4-17. Adirondack 8-14-4-26.
Power Plays — Reading 0-0; Adirondack 0-2.
Goalies — Reading, Muse 17-5-1-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Adirondack, Fielding 12-5-1-0 (17 shots-15 saves).
A — 1,969.
Ref — Jeremy Tufts.