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QUICK START, TIMELY SCORING POWERED THUNDER TO GAME 1 WIN

Thursday, April 14th
QUICK START, TIMELY SCORING POWERED THUNDER TO GAME 1 WIN

All season long, the Adirondack Thunder have preached about getting off to quicker starts. Michael Kirkpatrick’s goal 43 seconds into yesterday’s Game 1 action could not have been much quicker.

“It was huge,” Kirkpatrick said after last night’s win. “We were fired up before the game. To come out and get a great pass like that from [Greg Wolfe], get in free and score was a huge weight off our shoulders and got everything going.”

The Thunder struck early and stuck to a simple game throughout the first period, keeping a fast rushing Monarchs team at bay. The building seemed to lull throughout the first period after the Kirkpatrick goal and it played right into the Thunder’s hands, allowing them to play their game early on.

“We always want to get off to a good start, especially lately, when it’s been tough to get the first goal,” Wolfe said. “The early goal was a big goal and it allowed us to keep playing our system and our game plan and to take control early.”

While play was even throughout the first 40 minutes, a combination of timely offense and solid goaltending from Ken Appleby kept the Monarchs at bay, capped off by Wolfe’s power-play goal with less than three minutes to play in the second period. The Thunder power-play unit has been strong on the road all season, ranking third in the ECHL during the regular season at 21.7%, and came through with a much needed goal to send the team into the locker rooms with a 2-0 advantage.

Wolfe’s goal continued a hot run of form for the Michigan State graduate, who finished off the regular season with six goals in his last six games, including his first career professional hat trick on April 1 against the Norfolk Admirals. Wolfe’s two goals were the first of his ECHL playoff career but came as no surprise to Thunder Head Coach Cail MacLean.

“I see someone that’s been working hard and been doing similar kinds of things the whole time,” MacLean said of Wolfe. “We’ve talked about sticking with our game and doing the right things and he’s doing the things he’s been doing, but he’s getting more luck around the net. It’s great, huge timing for us and everyone’s very proud of him.”

The third period provided a major test for the Thunder, however, as Manchester scored twice in a span of less than a minute, immediately wiping out all the good that Adirondack had put forth in the opening 40 minutes.

Faced with adversity for the first time, the Thunder faced a massive shift, with momentum hanging in the balance.

“We were able to settle down, we got back on our feet with a solid shift [after the second goal],” MacLean said. “You have to execute on those subsequent shifts.”

After things settled down, we saw our first taste of what playoff hockey is known for: tense stretch runs. With the score tied at two for the main part of the third period, the intensity of the moment was high, culminating in Wolfe’s dramatic late goal.

After they withstood the Manchester attack, the Thunder went the other way on a 3-on-2 rush and Ryan Lomberg hit Wolfe with a perfectly timed feed, which he buried for the game winning goal, sending the Thunder to the first playoff victory in franchise history.

“It just came together,” Wolfe said of his game winner. “Lomberg put a perfect pass on my tape and I put it the only place I saw, far side.”

The Thunder enter Game 2 with an away win in their pocket, looking to take a 2-0 advantage back to Glens Falls.

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