12/17/2017 10:43 AM
Reading, PA – The Adirondack Thunder skated to their first victory of the season against the Reading Royals by 6-2 scoreline on Sunday afternoon at Santander Arena.
Adirondack was led by three-point games from from forwards Shane Conacher and Pierre-Luc Mercier along with multi-point efforts from Paul Rodrigues and Eric Neiley. Goaltender Chris Nell earned his first career ECHL victory as he made 35 saves.
The Thunder welcomed forward Terrence Wallin back to the lineup as he extended his scoring streak to six games with a goal 6:20 into the game. Conacher saw his shot blocked at the top of the right-hand circle but picked up his own rebound, moved towards the net and hit Wallin in front for a one-timed goal. Conacher and forward James Henry had the assists on Wallin’s seventh goal of the season, Conacher’s team-leading 16th assist on the season.
Adirondack struck twice more in the first period to take a three-goal lead into the first intermission. First, at the 11:06 mark of the opening period, Conacher got a goal of his own as he fired home his fourth goal of the season off of a feed from Rodrigues. The Thunder extended their lead to three goals with a power-play tally from forward Neiley 1:28 from the end of the first period. After Mercier fired towards the front of the net, the puck trickled through Reading netminder Tyler Parks and Neiley whacked it home from inside the crease for his 10th goal of the season.
Reading got on the board midway through the second period as forward Adam Schmidt scored on a strong individual effort. With the Royals on the man advantage, Schmidt took the puck at his offensive blue line, weaved through the Adirondack defense and beat Nell with a forehand-to-backhand move for his team's first goal of the evening. Forward Mark Naclerio and defenseman Nolan Zajac collected the helpers on the play for Reading.
The visitors responded just over six minutes later as defenseman Conor Riley scored his second goal of the season to return his team’s three-goal advantage. Forward Pierre-Luc Mercier sent a feed in the direction of Eric Neiley, which was blocked down in front of the net, but Riley followed up on the play and pushed it past new Reading netminder Mark Dekanich for the goal. Mercier and Conacher collected the assists on the play, Conacher’s third point of the evening.
After Reading took a pair of minors with eight seconds left in the middle stanza, Adirondack capitalized on the 5-on-3 advantage 1:44 into the third period to open up a 5-1 lead. After a sequence of umbrella passing by Adirondack, defenseman Blake Thompson fed forward Ben Murphy at the top of the left-hand circle, where he one-timed his shot past Dekanich for his third tally of the season. Thompson and Mercier picked up the assists on the play, Thompson’s first in a Thunder jersey.
The Royals pushed their deficit back to a trio at the 6:49 mark of the third period as captain Derek Whitmore scored his fourth goal of the season. Forward Michael Huntebrinker entered the offensive zone for Reading and hit a streaking Whitmore in the low slot, where he fired his shot just underneath the crossbar to beat Nell. Huntebrinker and defenseman Frank Hora collected the helpers on the play, Hora’s fourth of the season.
Adirondack concluded the scoring on the evening with 45 seconds to play as Rodrigues and Neiley combined to create a turnover near center ice and tallied an empty-net goal. Neiley picked up the lone assist on the play, his second point of the evening.
The Thunder are back in action next week for three games, beginning on Wednesday evening at Cool Insuring Arena against the Manchester Monarchs. Puck drop slated for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for all Thunder home games by visiting ECHLThunder.com or calling 518-480-3355 x1.
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