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2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Growlers Silence Thunder to Take Series Lead

Growlers Silence Thunder to Take Series Lead

GLENS FALLS, NY – The Newfoundland Growlers and Adirondack Thunder came into game three of their North Division semifinal series tied at one win apiece.  The Thunder were the dominant team in game one but fell apart in game two.  After being held to three goals Wednesday, the Growlers exploded for eight Friday.  They followed that up with another seven in game three Saturday, silencing the Thunder in a 7-1 rout.

Newfoundland opened the scoring when Nolan Walker took advantage of an Adirondack defensive lapse.  Defenseman Ryan Orgel fanned on a clearing attempt behind the Thunder net, Walker picked up the puck and set up a play.  He then scored on the rebound of a Brennan Kapcheck shot.

The Growlers extended their lead a few minutes later with a power play goal.  Orrin Centazzo drew Thunder goaltender Jake Theut to one side of the net so he could pass to Todd Skirving on the other.  Skirving scored into the wide-open net.  A couple minutes later Centazzo was lurking around the net again.  He backhanded the puck on net, and Zach O’Brien scored on the rebound to make it 3-0.

The Thunder went into the second period down but not out.  The three-goal deficit left them with a hill to climb, but at least it wasn’t a mountain…yet.

Isaac Johnson opened the middle frame with a pair of goals 5:20 apart.  The first came just over a minute into the period when he stole the puck from Ivan Chukarov in the Adirondack zone.  Johnson walked right in on Theut and made it 4-0.


Adirondack’s mistakes led to Johnson’s second goal as well.  The sequence started with a 2-on-1 followed by a failure to clear the zone.  Kapcheck was allowed to circle around the net unscathed and passed to Johnson, who made it a five-goal game, and a mountain for the Thunder to climb.

Yet another defensive lapse from Adirondack, and that mountain was Mount Everest.  Rookie defenseman Matt Slick let Johnson get past him for a partial breakaway.  Theut made that save, but the Thunder failed to clear the zone, leading to a goal from Michael Joyaux.  Theut was replaced by Mike Robinson, who, ironically, had been replaced by Theut the previous night after giving up six goals.

Adirondack’s Patrick Grasso scored off a faceoff with just over four minutes remaining in the second, breaking Newfoundland netminder Dryden McKay‘s shutout bid.  It was a case of too little, too late, however, as the game was already out of reach.

Another odd-man rush late in the period led to a spinorama backhanded goal from Keenan Suthers.


Neither team scored in the third, and the night ended in a 7-1 Newfoundland victory.

Eleven Growlers picked up at least a point Saturday, and five had a multi-point night.  Johnson led the way with four points (two goals, two assists); O’Brien picked up a goal and assist for the second consecutive night; and Kapcheck, Centazzo, and Jonny Tychonick each had two assists.

Going into enemy territory down 2-1 in the series is not ideal for the Thunder, and they will have to clean up their defensive play considerably if they want to compete with the top team in the East.  The odd-man rushes and turnovers need to be kept to a minimum, and Newfoundland’s top players cannot be allowed to dwell in front of the Adirondack net.

Despite the obstacles facing them, the team is maintaining a positive attitude, however.

Captain Shane Harper: “Playoffs, you’ve got to have a short memory…We just battle back and we win next game, it doesn’t matter how much we got outscored the last two games.  The series will be 2-2, so that’s the only way you’ve got to look at it.”

Head Coach Pete MacArthur said after the game Saturday the team was planning to recover as much as possible, fly to Newfoundland Sunday, “enjoy each other on the trip,” and prepare on Monday for the game Tuesday.

That plan was put on delay a bit as neither team was able to make it to St. John’s as scheduled.  Flights from both Toronto and Montreal were cancelled due to weather conditions.

Points Aplenty

There have been a total of 28 goals scored so far in this series.  Of the 19 Newfoundland skaters who have seen action in this postseason, only two are left without a point (Adam Holwell and Derian Plouffe).  Neither had a point in game one, and neither played in games two or three.  O’Brien and Johnson each have two goals and four assists; Centazzo has a goal and four assists.  For Adirondack, 13 skaters have at least one point.  Harper has four (one goal, three assists), while Orgel (two goals, one assist) and Grasso (one goal, two assists) have three each.

On to St. John’s

The teams will at some point head to St. John’s for at least the next two games, potentially as many as four (if needed).  The Growlers had a 27-8-1-0 record at the Mary Brown’s Centre during the regular season.  Of the six games the Thunder played in that building, they won two in regulation, lost two in regulation, and dropped one each in overtime and in a shootout.  Newfoundland outscored opponents 153-112 on home ice but didn’t fare so well against Adirondack.  Both teams scored 24 goals in St. John’s during the regular season.

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

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