GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder and Worcester Railers faced off for the fifth time this season on Friday night. The two teams had split the previous four games at two wins apiece. As is the case with most games between these North Division rivals, Friday’s game promised to be nothing short of entertaining for the 4,213 fans in attendance.
The entertainment began only 1:44 into the game, when the Thunder scored the first goal of the game. Defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst took the initial shot, but was stopped by goaltender Evan Buitenhuis. The Railers netminder wasn’t able to cover the puck, and forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel slid the puck past him for the early lead.
The Railers tied it up just past the ten-minute mark. Forward Matt Schmalz circled around Adirondack’s net with the puck and threw it out front, where Bo Brauer was waiting to put it past netminder Evan Cormier.
It took only 35 seconds for Worcester to go ahead on a goal from Shane Walsh. Skating into Adirondack’s zone, Brauer passed across to Walsh skating down the middle, and his shot beat Cormier.
Neither team scored again in the opening frame, and the Railers headed into the second period with a 2-1 lead.
It took less than four minutes of the second stanza for Worcester to increase their lead to 3-1. Jordan Samuels-Thomas received a Barry Almeida pass from behind the Thunder net, and backhanded it past Cormier.
Tempers began flaring later in the frame, when Adirondack’s Verpaelst and Worcester’s Yanick Turcotte got into a shoving match. Words were exchanged between the two, and both received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Adirondack Head Coach Alex Loh commented on the physical exchange in his post-game presser:
“There’s certain guys on both teams that have that element to their game. Anytime you have that, there’s gonna be fireworks.”
38 seconds into an Anthony Florentino slashing minor, forward Mike Szmatula scored a power play goal to bring the Thunder to within one.
With less than two minutes remaining in the second, Worcester’s Ross Olsson increased his team’s lead to 4-2. Verpaelst immediately instigated a fight with him, and both players headed off the ice for the remainder of the period.
Defenseman Kelly Summers once again brought the Thunder to within one at 13:32 of the third period, when his shot from the point made its way past Buitenhuis.
Exactly four minutes later, Pierro-Zabotel scored his second of the night to complete Adirondack’s comeback bid. Buitenhuis had trouble controlling his rebounds all night, and that final goal was no exception. The netminder had made the initial save, but couldn’t control the puck, and Pierro-Zabotel poked it home to tie the game at four and force overtime.
There were plenty of penalties in the extra session (two minors for each team), but no scoring, so the Thunder and Railers headed to a shootout. Matt Salhany scored for Adirondack, while Walsh and J.D. Dudek scored for Worcester, and the Railers took the game 5-4.
Despite the loss, Pierro-Zabotel was pleased with the comeback effort of he and his teammates:
“we definitely battled back for that point, worked really hard. it was good to see everyone battle right to the end like that.”
Several skaters from both teams had a multi-point night. For Adirondack, Pierro-Zabotel led with two goals and an assist, Colby Sissons had two assists, and Salhany had an assist plus the shootout goal. For Worcester, Brauer had a goal and assist, Schmalz & Almeida each had two assists, and Walsh had a goal in regulation as well as a shootout goal.
Despite giving up the rebounds (and four goals), Railers goaltender Buitenhuis was still able to come up with 43 saves, including a spectacular diving stop in the third period. For the most part, he was solid in net and made the saves when he needed to.
Pierro-zabotel: “it’s always frustrating when you outshoot a team but they played really good defensively. their goalie played really good tonight, made a lot of good saves.”
The Thunder outshot the Railers 47-24.
Adirondack faces the Maine Mariners in Portland Saturday night before returning home to face the Railers once again Sunday afternoon.
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