Thunder Clinch Home Ice in Round 1 with 3-2 Win over Monarchs
Glens Falls, NY - The Adirondack Thunder clinched home ice in Round 1 of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs in front of a sold-out Cool Insuring Arena on Friday evening.
Forwards Shane Conacher and Paul Rodrigues, as well as defenseman Matthew Spencer, each found the back of the net for the Thunder. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood led the way between the pipes as he turned aside an ECHL-high 37 saves to earn the victory.
Adirondack picked up the first goal 7:53 into the game as Conacher converted a rebound opportunity for his 20th tally of the season. Conor Riley shifted a pass along the blueline to defensive partner Aaron Titcomb, who fired a wrist shot on net from the right point. Manchester netminder Charles Williams made the initial save but Conacher was sitting on the doorstep to tap into an empty net for his eighth point over his last five games played. Riley and Titcomb registered the assists on the play, Titcomb's first professional point.
Manchester knotted the score at one with 5:59 remaining in the first period as rookie forward Spencer Watson converted with a rebound goal of his own. Monarchs defenseman Jared Kolquist took the first shot from the top of the left-hand faceoff circle, which was turned aside by Blackwood, but the puck trickled to Watson, who snuck it in to tie the game. Kolquist and David Kolomatis netted the assists on the score, the 24th helper of the season for the Monarchs captain.
The Thunder took a two-goal lead with a pair of goals 72 seconds apart in the middle stanza to open up a 3-1 advantage. First, at the 13:33 mark of the second period, Brian Ward led a 2-on-1 rush and slid the puck to Spencer at the back post for a tap-in goal, a 4-on-4 tally. Adirondack struck again just over a minute later as Rodrigues doubled the advantage. Thunder forward Kenton Miller forced a turnover deep in the Manchester zone and the puck kicked to an uncovered Rodrigues in the slot, where he beat Williams with a wrist shot on the glove side for his 11th goal of the season.
The Monarchs cut the lead to one with 1:22 remaining in the game as forward Cory Ward netted his eighth goal of the season. After the Monarchs pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker, Blackwood made a trio of saves in the crease before the puck trickled through to Ward in front of the net, where he hammered it in to make it a 3-2 game. Kevin Morris and Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman notched the assists, Smotherman's 38th helper on the year.
Adirondack is back in action on Sunday in Brampton as it concludes the regular season with a 2:00 p.m. puck drop against the Brampton Beast. The Thunder will then begin the playoffs on Friday, April 13 at Cool Insuring Arena at 7:00 p.m. Visit ECHLThunder.com or call 518-480-3355 x1 to get tickets for all Thunder home playoff games.
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