Elmira, NY – The Adirondack Thunder clinched the North Division title with a 7-1 victory over the Elmira Jackals on Friday evening at First Arena.
Adirondack opened the scoring 4:15 into the game as defenseman Patch Alber collected his third goal of the season. After forward James Henry won the puck below the Elmira goal line, Cameron Brown collected it and fed a pass in front to a streaking Alber, who slotted a shot past the blocker of Elmira netminder Andy Iles for the goal. Brown and Henry collected the assists on the play, the 32nd of the season for Henry.
The Thunder opened up a three-goal lead later in the first period with goals from Dennis Kravchenko and Brock Montgomery. First, Kravchenko scored in the slot in his return to the lineup as he converted a pass from Henry, who collected his 33rd helper of the season. Then, with less than two minutes to play in the first, Montgomery took a deflected pass from Brian Ward and swatted home the puck on his second effort to increase the Thunder advantage to three goals. Ward and Alex Wall collected the assists on the play, extending Ward’s point streak to 14 games.
Less than three minutes into the second period, Elmira got on the board for the first time as Kenton Miller buried his 31st goal of the season to cut the Adirondack advantage to 3-1. Skating in on the right-hand side, Miller moved into the slot and fired a shot that went through the five hole of Adirondack goaltender J.P. Anderson, just the second goal he’s allowed in the month of April. Casey Thrush collected the lone assist on the play, his 23rd of the season.
With Elmira forward Reed Seckel in the penalty box for roughing, the Thunder took advantage with their first power-play goal of the evening at the 9:33 mark of the middle stanza. Henry collected a feed from Ward in traffic but found forward Brett Pollock open in the slot, who wired a wrist shot past new Elmira netminder Jason Kasdorf to regain his team a three-goal lead. Pollock’s goal was his 14th of the season while Henry and Ward collected the assists, Henry’s third of the evening.
The visitors collected their fifth goal of the evening as Henry made it a four-point effort with his first goal of the game. After Brown won the puck to Henry deep in the Elmira defensive zone, Henry’s first shot hit the side of Kasdorf’s skate but the Adirondack alternate captain drove the net and poked the puck into the back of the net to give the Thunder a 5-1 lead. Brown and Ward collected the assists on the play, a career-best third point in a game for Brown.
Adirondack added two more goals, both of which came on the man advantage. First, with the Thunder on a 5-on-3 power play 9:02 into the third period, Pollock carried the puck into the slot and fired a wrist shot over Kasdorf’s glove for the 6-1 advantage. Just over 90 seconds later, forward Gunnar Hughes redirected home a shot from Christopher Dienes to increase the Adirondack advantage to 7-1. Dienes and defenseman Roman Dyukov collected the assists on the play, the second of the season for Dienes.
With the victory, Adirondack improves to 40-20-7-4 on the season, good for 91 points and first place in the North Division. The Thunder will have home-ice advantage in round one of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Thunder conclude their regular season schedule tomorrow evening in a rematch against Elmira at First Arena, with puck drop slated for 7:00 p.m. Adirondack will begin the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs next week, with their round one opponent to be determined tomorrow evening.
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