MANCHESTER, NH – Dylan Walchuk and Mike Szmatula netted multi-goal games, Alex Sakellaropoulos made 20 saves in his third shutout of the season and the Thunder blanked the Monarchs 6-0 Wednesday evening at SNHU Arena.
Adirondack broke the game open early with a quartet of first-period goals that started with Walchuk’s sixth score of the season just over two minutes into the game. With the puck in the Thunder’s offensive zone, Walchuk grinded for possession behind the Manchester cage, collected and spun in front as he slid his wraparound attempt past the far side of Cole Kehler for a 1-0 Adirondack lead.
John Edwardh made it a pair of goals just 1:51 later when he converted on a wrist-shot from the center slot. The former UMass-Lowell Riverhaws took a pass from Matt Salhany at the red line and darted towards the cage. Edwardh put a deke on the Manchester defense to get the puck on his forehand and snapped a quick shot by Kehler for a 2-0 lead.
Walchuk picked up his second of the night before the halfway point of the opening period when he had great position in front of the net. Blake Thompson took the original shot from a bad-angle on the goal line. After Kehler had trouble handling the puck, Walchuk hacked at the loose rubber and snuck it between Kehler’s legs for his seventh score of the season.
Thunder captain James Henry made it 4-0 at 10:35 of the first period with a pretty power-play tally. Edwardh was stationed on the left wing and fed Salhany behind the offensive net. The Warwick, RI native barely held the puck before sliding a pass to Henry in front who one-timed it home for his 11th score of the season. The assist gave Edwardh a multi-point night as he completed the month of January with 16 points.
ECHL All-Star Mike Szmatula collected a pair of goals in the second period to extend the Thunder lead to six. The University of Minnesota product potted his first on a great individual effort. With Adirondack on the man advantage, Szmatula collected a shot around the boards, carried out to the blue line and spun back into the attacking zone. He took a few strides to the left faceoff circle before firing a wrister from the dot that beat Charles Williams who replaced Kehler in the first.
Szmatula scored again with less than three minutes remaining in the second, his team-leading 17th tally of the season. The 26-year-old forward carried the puck down the right wing, made one cut towards center ice and put his wrist-shot past the blocker of Williams for the 6-0 lead.
On a night when Sakellaropoulos did not need to be perfect, he was. The rookie netminder turned aside all 20 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season, all coming in his past seven starts in net. Sakellaropoulos has now won seven of his last eight starts.
The Thunder return home for Friday night’s contest against the Reading Royals before finishing their weekend Saturday in Portland to take on the Maine Mariners. For the latest Thunder news, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ECHLThunder.
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