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Adirondack Thunder

Grasso’s Hot Streak Not Enough in Norfolk

Grasso’s Hot Streak Not Enough in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. – The Adirondack Thunder traveled to Virginia for a three-game set against the Norfolk Admirals.  The Thunder were coming off a four-game losing streak, while the Admirals were riding a three-game skid.  The trip to a warmer climate should have been just what the doctor ordered to give Adirondack some much-needed points in the standings.  Instead, it was Norfolk reaping the benefits for much of the series.  The Thunder picked up the win in the first game (a 4-2 decision Wednesday), played better in the second match Saturday (a hard-fought 6-4 loss), and started out the better team Sunday before falling apart in the second period and dropping the game 3-2.

Game 1: Adirondack’s Losing Streak Ends

The Admirals opened the scoring early in the second period with a goal from Tanner Schachle.  Thunder forwards Nick Rivera and Patrick Grasso scored within a 27-second span to take the lead.  Norfolk’s Brett Ouderkirk added a shorthanded goal four minutes later to tie the game at 2-2.  It was Ouderkirk’s first ECHL goal.

Adirondack’s Grant Jozefek scored what would prove to be the game-winner with five seconds remaining in the frame, with Xavier Parent adding an insurance goal in the third.  Jake Theut earned the win with 33 saves.

Thunder Head Coach Peter MacArthur: “We won the game.  After watching the video, we could be a lot better though.  We’ve got to play harder within our structure and as a group of five instead of one guy going rogue.  There were some good things, but we could be way better as well.”

Game 2: Norfolk Ends Their Skid

Saturday’s matchup was a goal-fest, with a total of ten goals scored and 23 skaters picking up points.  Grasso continued his hot streak with a hat trick, including what has become his signature (batting the puck in just under the crossbar, bordering a high stick), as well as a fluky goal that bounced off the boards and then the backside of the Admirals netminder.

Sebastian Vidmar had the other goal for the Thunder.  Carson Musser, Tag Bertuzzi, Cody Milan, Griffin Lunn, Mathieu Roy, and Sam Hu all scored for Norfolk.

The Thunder power play was on fire with three goals, although they did give up a shorthanded breakaway goal to Musser.  In addition to the shorthanded tally, Lunn’s goal came on a breakaway immediately following a penalty, something Coach MacArthur cited as an ongoing issue this season.

“…be more aware in certain circumstances throughout the game, when guys are coming out of the box on penalties.  We can’t be giving up goals when we’re on the power play.  Although I think we scored three [Saturday] night, we’ve also given up six or seven on the year on the power play.”

The final few minutes were action-packed, with the Thunder capitalizing on the power play after pulling their goalie for an extra attacker (Grasso’s third goal), then keeping the heat on Bullion with sustained pressure in the offensive zone.  At one point, Musser’s skate blade broke and he couldn’t get to the bench, ultimately giving the Thunder another 6-on-4 for the remainder of the game.  The Thunder were able to hold the Admirals off until the final two seconds, when Milan scored into the empty net.  Michael Bullion picked up the win for the Admirals with 32 saves.

MacArthur on the final few minutes: “We did have great puck possession with the goalie out, and guys showed confidence with the goalie out, which is awesome to see in your group.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find the one that we really needed there.  We need to do a better job earlier in the game not to give up five goals beforehand, then we don’t have to be in that situation.”

MacArthur: “I didn’t think we actually deserved to win the game on Wednesday, I did think we deserved to win the game [Saturday] night.”

“I didn’t have to say a whole lot, they were doing a great job.  I thought we played a pretty good game for the most part.  We lacked awareness at times, which is how [the Admirals] scored their goals, but they took care of themselves on the bench.  It was nice to see it, and they never quit.  We were really close till the final buzzer, and I thought we could have won the game.”

Game 3: Adirondack Falls Apart

The first period belonged to Adirondack.  Grasso netted his fifth goal of the series only 2:21 into the game, and the Thunder were firing on all cylinders and were doing a good job controlling the puck in all three zones.  Passes were connecting, skaters were getting quality chances and putting the puck on net, and Theut was making the necessary saves on his end.

Then came the second period.  Despite Grasso adding another goal, the Thunder did not look good.  Passes weren’t connecting, there were defensive lapses, and the Admirals tied the game on goals from Elijah Vilio and Brett Van Os.  Bertuzzi scored the game-winner a little over halfway through the third period.

The Admirals’ two wins don’t take them out of the basement, but they do bring them to within five points of the Thunder in the North Division standings.

Grasso’s Hot Streak

Grasso is currently riding a three-game goal-scoring streak, with six goals in that timeframe.  Those six goals boosted the second-year forward into the league lead for goals scored with 14.

Norfolk’s Burgess on a Point Streak

After a slow start in which he didn’t register a single point in his first nine games, Todd Burgess, formerly an RPI forward, went on a three-game point streak, in which he registered two goals and three assists, before being injured in a game November 18.  After coming off injured reserve December 6, he has picked up where he left off and is currently on a six-game point streak with Norfolk.  He has two goals and seven assists in those games.

Suspension Upcoming

Adirondack forward Noah Corson received a game misconduct Sunday as a result of a major penalty for boarding.  The league is expected to hand out a suspension.

Editor’s note: After publication, Corson was issued a one-game suspension.

Next Up

The Thunder (5-11-3-1) begin a four-game homestand to bring them into the Christmas break.  They will have a three-in-three next weekend, hosting the Newfoundland Growlers (17-5-1-0) Friday before the Maine Mariners (10-10-1-0) come to town for games Saturday and Sunday.  Adirondack then hosts the Worcester Railers (16-7-1-0) the following Friday.  Adirondack is 2-0-0-0 against Newfoundland, 0-3-0-0 against Maine, and 1-4-0-1 against Worcester.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Carrie Roberts covers the Adirondack Thunder for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHAdkThunder.

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