GLENS FALLS, NY – Conor Riley returned from a cheap-shot late in the first period to record his first professional hat-trick and lead the Adirondack Thunder to a 6-4 win over the Newfoundland Growlers Saturday night at Cool Insuring Arena.
With the Growlers ahead by a goal in the opening frame, Riley skated hard towards the corner when Growlers goaltender Michael Garteig took a calculated slash with his stick towards the forward’s midsection. The 26-year-old laid still in the corner before being attended to by Thunder trainer Aisha Visram and taken to the Thunder dressing room.
The University of Maine product returned to the ice in the second period when he started his scoring frenzy. Riley collected his first of the night with 3:35 to play in the second period. Mike Szmatula found the puck on his stick after he entered the offensive-zone and found a streaking Riley with nobody in front of him. Riley collected and easily potted his wrist-shot top-shelf to beat Garteig and extend the Thunder lead to 3-1.
Riley potted his second of the night early in the third period on a breakaway after Michael Sdao absolutely obliterated Cory Dunn with a mid-ice check. The hit sprung the puck free before Riley collected and sprinted down the ice and beat Garteig with a quick wrister on the blocker side.
Riley completed the hat-trick on an empty-net goal with 54 seconds to put the game out of reach.
Brian Ward added a pair of goals on the night to give him three tallies in his last two games. He put the Thunder on the board with a complete snipe in the short-corner top-shelf past Garteig. Peter MacArthur was credited with the primary assist after he put a ridiculous backhand pass through the wickets of the Growlers defender and through to Ward on the right wing.
Ward’s second of the night was a parting gift from Newfoundland as the Growlers scored on their own net late in the third period after Garteig was pulled for an extra attacker.
Kelly Summers rounded out the scoring for Adirondack with a power-play goal to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead at 13:47 of the second. Riley carried the puck behind the net and found the defenseman camped at the right faceoff dot. Summers clapped a one-timer in the same corner that Ward picked earlier for his fourth score of the season.
Thunder starting goaltender Logan Thompson played incredibly well as he turned aside 24 of 25 Newfoundland attempts before he left with a lower-body injury of his own early in the third period. Arthur Brey stepped in to make 13 saves in the final 17:25 to seal the victory for Adirondack.
The Thunder will complete their three-in-three home set tomorrow afternoon with a Sunday matinee against the Reading Royals. Puck drop is slated for 3:00 p.m. from Cool Insuring Arena. For the latest Thunder news, be sure to follow the team on all social media @ECHLThunder.
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