ST. JOHN’S, NFLD – The first place Newfoundland Growlers and fourth place Adirondack Thunder are set to kick off the opening round of the ECHL playoffs Wednesday in Glens Falls. As has been the case since they joined the league, the Growlers have led the North Division for much of the season, taking over the top spot once the Worcester Railers began their descent. The Thunder, on the other hand, have had to fight their way into a playoff position, going from last place at the end of October to clinching the fourth seed in the final period of the regular season.
Newfoundland’s top point-producer, Zach O’Brien, is tied for third in the league with 87 points (23 goals, 64 assists). Adirondack’s Shane Harper isn’t too far behind, with 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists), putting him in the top 10. Thunder forward Patrick Grasso is fifth in the ECHL for goals scored (37). The Growlers currently have 5 skaters on their playoff roster with at least a point per game (O’Brien, Pavel Gogolev, Isaac Johnson, Orrin Centazzo, and Zach Solow). The Thunder have one (Harper).
Final Regular Season Records
Newfoundland: 48-22-2-0, 98 points (1st in Eastern Conference, 4th in ECHL)
Adirondack: 32-29-9-2, 75 points (9th in Eastern Conference, 15th in ECHL)
Game 1: Wednesday, April 19 – Newfoundland at ADIRONDACK – 7:00 pm ET
Game 2: Friday, April 21 – Newfoundland at ADIRONDACK – 7:00 pm ET
Game 3: Saturday, April 22 – Newfoundland at ADIRONDACK – 5:00 pm ET
Game 4: Tuesday, April 25 – Adirondack at NEWFOUNDLAND – 7:00 pm NT
*Game 5: Thursday, April 27 – Adirondack at NEWFOUNDLAND – 7:00 pm NT
*Game 6: Sunday, April 30 – Adirondack at NEWFOUNDLAND – 4:00 pm NT
*Game 7: Tuesday, May 2 – Adirondack at NEWFOUNDLAND – 7:00 pm NT
Season Series Recap
The Growlers and Thunder were relatively evenly matched in their regular season series. Newfoundland had a 6-5-0-0 record, while Adirondack went 5-4-1-1. The Thunder had a very slight edge in scoring, with 40 goals to the Growlers’ 39. Gogolev and Harper were the top point-producers for their respective teams with 16 points each, and each team had 11 skaters with at least five points in the series.
How Newfoundland Wins
Drown out the Adirondack crowds in the opening three games, get early leads, and hold those leads. The Thunder thrive off their crowds and have become the Comeback Kids in the latter half of the season. The Growlers will have to shut down that energy and play a strong defensive game once they have a lead.
If Newfoundland can get at least two wins in Glens Falls, it should be smooth sailing from there. The Growlers are 27-8-1-0 on home ice this season, with their last loss coming in mid-March against the Thunder. Newfoundland was not served a loss on home ice until November 19, going 8-0-0-0 in that span.
How Adirondack Wins
Utilize the atmosphere of the crowd at Cool Insuring Arena to get an early lead in the series. The Thunder are constantly praising their home fans and feeding off the energy inside the building. Adirondack has been incredible at the CIA of late, undefeated in their last seven home games, with their last home loss coming March 8. The Thunder have an overall home record of 21-10-4-1, with 18 of those wins coming since December 23.
Once the series shifts to St. John’s, the biggest key will be shutting down Newfoundland’s top players, particularly Gogolev, Centazzo, and O’Brien.
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