PORTLAND, ME – Mike Szmatula scored his team-leading 19th and 20th goals of the season and Matt Salhany scored a shorthanded penalty shot goal, but the Adirondack Thunder fell to the Maine Mariners by a 5-3 final Saturday evening at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, ME.
After Drew Melanson scored the game’s only goal in the first period, Szmatula tied the game with his first of the night at 4:45 of the middle period. The ECHL All-Star settled a high pass on the right wing, cut toward the center slot and popped a quick wrist-shot over the short-side shoulder of Brandon Halverson to tie the game at one.
Three minutes later, Brycen Martin regained the Mariners’ advantage with a screen-shot from the center point. The former third-round draft pick collected a pass at the right point, adjusted the angle with a few strides towards center ice and got his soft screen shot by Evan Cormier for a 2-1 lead.
Matt Salhany tied the game midway through the middle frame after he was awarded a penalty shot while the Thunder were shorthanded. Salhany came in on Halverson with the puck on his forehand, came to a halt and used the hesitation to bait the Maine netminder one way before finishing the other and tying the game at 2-2. The goal was the Thunder’s third shorthanded tally in their past two games.
Maine used a poor clearing attempt from the Adirondack defense to take the lead once again before the end of the second. Martin gathered the clearing attempt inside the blue-line before finding Dillan Fox with a cross-ice pass who potted the attempt for his first score of the season.
Szmatula provided another spark with his second of the night just over five minutes into the third. The 26-year-old forward took a drop-pass at mid-ice before streaking into the offensive zone. Szmatula put a deke on the Mariners defenseman to get the puck to his forehand and ripped a quick shot back across his body to tie the game at threes.
Greg Chase used another failed Adirondack clearing attempt to give Maine a lead it would finally not relinquish. The Mariners forward collected the puck at the left point, took a tour of the offensive zone and fired a long wrist-shot by Cormier for a 4-3 lead. Michael McNicholas added the fifth and final goal for Maine in the last two minutes of regulation.
Adirondack continues its seven-game road trip with a trio of games next week in Estero, FL against the Florida Everblades. The first of three games comes Wednesday night at Hertz Arena with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
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