Martin and McNicholas Lead Mariners over Thunder
PORTLAND, ME - The Mariners never trailed, but the Adirondack Thunder kept battling back until Michael McNicholas sealed the game with an insurance goal late in the third to earn the Mariners a 5-3 win on Saturday night at the Cross Insurance Arena. McNicholas, Brycen Martin, Greg Chase, and Dillan Fox all finished with multi-point games as the Mariners snapped their losing streak at five games.
The first sign of Mariners momentum came late in the first period when they killed off a long Thunder two-man advantage following back to back penalties to Wade Murphy and Brycen Martin. Soon after the kill, Greg Chase spotted Drew Melanson just above the crease and Melanson buried his ninth goal of the season. Derek Pratt received the secondary assist on the only goal of the opening frame.
Less than five minutes into the second, Adirondack's Mike Szmatula extended his personal goal scoring streak to three games when he beat Brandon Halverson with a short-side wrist shot. Martin had the answer at 7:55 with a shot from the point that snuck just inside the post. While the Mariners worked on a power play midway through the frame, Matt Salhany skated away with a shorthanded breakaway and drew a penalty shot when he was slashed by Jon Jutzi. Salhany deked Halverson to tie the game at two, the second penalty shot goal allowed by the Mariners this season. Getting another power play chance, Dillan Fox sniped home his first goal as a Mariners from the right-wing circle at 15:29, giving the Mariners a 3-2 lead heading to the third.
Once again the Thunder fought back as Szmatula carried the puck in on a one-on-one with just Jutzi back and used the Mariners defenseman as a screen to beat Halverson and tie the game at three at 5:04 of the third. The Mariners answered just 1:22 later when Greg Chase found a shooting lane in the high slot, helped by a Fox screen, and beat Thunder netminder Evan Cormier. The rest of the third featured constant pressure by the Thunder, but Halverson and the Mariners defense held strong and McNicholas scored at 18:05, set up by Martin and Wade Murphy to seal the game. Halverson nearly scored an empty net goal, but Cormier was able to reverse fields on his way to the bench and stop it before it could roll home.
Halverson made 24 saves on 27 shots to earn his 15th win. Cormier stopped 24 of 29 to fall to 0-3 on the season.
The Mariners play three consecutive home games next weekend with "Honor Flight Maine Night" presented by News Center Maine on Friday against the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:15 PM, EqualityMaine Pride night on Saturday against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 6:00 PM, and a Sunday matinee against the Wheeling Nailers at 3:00 PM to round it out. A postgame skate with the team, sponsored by Redbank Village will follow Sunday's game. General admission tickets can be purchased at MarinersofMaine.com or by visiting or calling the Trusted Choice Box Office: 207-775-3458.
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