GLENS FALLS, NY – After dropping the first game in this North Division semifinal series, the Newfoundland Growlers were expected to come out stronger in game two. They did just that Friday, getting the game’s first two goals and holding a four-goal lead four separate times before finishing the night with an 8-4 victory over the Adirondack Thunder.
Both Newfoundland and Adirondack looked like the polar opposites of the teams we saw Wednesday. In game one, the Thunder came out hot, scoring two quick goals before the Growlers fought back to tie it toward the end of the first period. Adirondack then had a strong second that decided the game. Newfoundland looked more like the number four seed Wednesday.
Thunder Head Coach Pete MacArthur: “We were really good on Wednesday, we were really bad today.”
Friday it was the Growlers netting the first goal of the game. After being held off the scoresheet Wednesday, Thunder-killer Pavel Gogolev sent a backhand pass to Matt Hellickson for his first goal of the postseason. It was the lone goal of the opening frame.
Giant (6’8″) Keenan Suthers extended the Growlers’ lead to 2-0 early in the second when he tipped Jonny Tychonick‘s shot past Thunder goaltender Mike Robinson, who argued the puck was hit in with a high stick.
Adirondack was still in it at that point, and rookie Matt Jennings proved that point when he singlehandedly stripped Hellickson of the puck, circled behind the net, and put the puck past Newfoundland netminder Dryden McKay.
Just over a minute later, the floodgates opened. Growlers alternate captain Todd Skirving netted his first of the night on a rebound of a Simon Kubicek shot. He followed that up with a tip of Tommy Miller‘s shot from the blue line, making it 4-1. Robinson argued high stick on this one as well.
Zach O’Brien followed that with a tip-in of Tychonick’s shot, and Newfoundland suddenly had a stunning four-goal lead. Rookie defenseman Matt Slick got one back in the final minute of the second period, but the game was already out of reach for a team lacking the energy and intensity necessary to win playoff games.
Adirondack captain Shane Harper: “I thought [the Growlers] did have a little more intensity, a little more speed. We were kind of expecting that. We also weren’t our best. Our passes weren’t as crisp as Wednesday, a couple more turnovers.
The teams exchanged several goals in the third period, starting with another from Suthers less than a minute in. That was Robinson’s sixth goal allowed on the night, and he was replaced by Jake Theut with the Thunder trailing 6-2. Harper forced an offensive zone turnover that led to a goal for defenseman Wayne Létourneau, and the Thunder were again within three. Zach Solow rifled a shot past Theut for the Growlers’ third four-goal lead of the night. Hometown boy Shawn Weller added another for Adirondack before Nolan Walker sealed the 8-4 victory with an empty-netter for Newfoundland.
The best-of-seven series is now tied 1-1.
Points All Around
All but three of Newfoundland’s skaters picked up at least one point Friday. Eight Growlers earned two points each on the night: Skirving and Suthers had two goals apiece; the two Zachs (O’Brien and Solow) each had a goal and assist; and Gogolev, Tychonick, Orrin Centazzo, and Brandon Kruse all added two assists apiece. Harper was the only Adirondack skater with a multi-point game (two assists).
The teams face off in Glens Falls for the final time Saturday at 5 pm. The series then shifts to St. John’s for games four and five, possibly six and seven (if needed). Whoever wins this series will go on to face the winner of the Reading Royals/Maine Mariners series in the North Division Final. Reading leads that series 1-0 after Friday’s 2-1 victory.
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