GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder have gotten a good start on building their 2020-21 roster, with player announcements each week since late June. They have goaltending, defense, and offense covered, with some leadership and a little toughness thrown in as well.
The Thunder started out strong with their top two scorers from the 2019-20 season — forwards Matt Salhany and Mike Szmatula. Next up was offensive-minded defenseman Charlie Curti, who led all Adirondack defenseman in scoring. Forward Alex Carrier was the fourth announced signing. He brings a veteran presence, leadership, and some toughness to the team.
Next up were a pair of Union College alumni — forward Ryan Walker and goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos. The two were teammates at Union during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, and were reunited in 2019 when Walker completed his collegiate career and joined the Thunder. Walker remained with Adirondack for the 2019-20 season, while Sakellaropoulos split the season between the Norfolk Admirals and Rapid City Rush before being traded to the Orlando Solar Bears.
Walker had eight goals and 19 total points in 49 games during his rookie season.
Sakellaropoulos signed with Norfolk prior to the 2019-20 season and was traded to Rapid City in early December. He was later traded to Orlando in early March, but did not play a single game before the season abruptly ended due to COVID-19. He ended his third pro season with a 3.53 goals against average and 0.897 save percentage.
Head Coach Alex Loh mentioned Sakellaropoulos’ skill and personality as reasons for bringing him back.
“He’s obviously a good goaltender in this league, a fan favorite here.
“He’s a great guy, a great guy in the room; good to have his personality in the room.”
The latest signings are forward Ara Nazarian and defenseman Steven Ruggiero, both entering their second pro seasons.
Though on an AHL contract with the Binghamton Devils, Nazarian spent his entire rookie season with Adirondack, scoring 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists). He was tied for fourth in team scoring with forwards Robbie Payne and James Henry.
Ruggiero is the first newcomer to be announced this offseason. The former Anaheim Ducks prospect spent much of last season with the Tulsa Oilers, and also appeared in a game with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. Ruggiero is more of a stay-at-home defenseman but still picked up five goals and nine points, and a plus-nine rating in 2019-20.
Coach Loh had this to say about Ruggiero:
“He (Ruggiero) will add that steady defensive play to the back end. He doesn’t put up a ton of points, but just a solid, smart, good defenseman.”
THE YOUNGSTOWN CONNECTION
Ruggiero was a former teammate of Thunder defenseman Tommy Parran with the Youngstown Phantoms in 2013-14. The Thunder have not announced that Parran has signed yet, but it is a good possibility you will see him back in Glens Falls for the 2020-21 season. Loh had mentioned in a prior announcement that he would be happy to have him back. Like Ruggiero, Parran is a stay-at-home defenseman who would be entering into his second pro season.
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