GLENS FALLS, NY – The Adirondack Thunder hosted the Worcester Railers for a two-game set over the weekend. It was Adirondack’s annual Stick it to Cancer Weekend, a series of fundraising events to benefit the C.R. Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital. Included in these events were a 50-50 raffle, a chance to paint loved ones’ names on the ice, and Saturday’s post-game jersey auction.
Adirondack Head Coach Pete MacArthur: “Anytime you can wear a name on your jersey or have it on the ice to let those people know that you’re thinking about them, you’re there if they need your support, I think it’s pretty neat, and hockey’s awesome when it comes to stuff like that, especially here in Adirondack.”
With the Thunder and Railers fighting for the North Division’s final playoff spot, the weekend was a big one on the ice as well. After defeating the Railers 3-1 Wednesday in Worcester, the Thunder completed the three-game sweep with 4-1 and 2-1 victories Friday and Saturday, respectively. Second-year pro Patrick Grasso led the way with four goals on the weekend, while Jake Theut was stellar in net, allowing a single goal in each game.
Grasso opened the scoring twelve minutes into the game Friday when he rifled a shot from the top of the faceoff circle past Worcester netminder Henrik Tikkanen. It was the lone goal of the opening frame and remained the only goal until the third period.
Railers forwards Brent Beaudoin and Nolan Vesey exchanged passes before Beaudoin slid the puck past Theut for the 1-1 tie early in the third. Grant Jozefek answered 38 seconds later when he snuck the puck past Tikkanen’s skate and into the net, giving the Thunder the lead once again.
A few minutes later, Sebastian Vidmar found Grasso open on the left wing and passed to him before heading off for a line change. Grasso skated in on Tikkanen and netted his second of the night.
Grasso later added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick. It was his 30th goal of the season, tying former Thunder forward Brian Ward‘s franchise record for goals scored in a season. Vidmar assisted on all three of Grasso’s goals.
Last night was special.
Let's do it again tonight 💜 pic.twitter.com/Mum0ouZmKo
— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) March 25, 2023
Grasso continued where he left off Saturday night, netting the game’s first goal early in the second period. That goal set a new franchise record for goals scored in a single season. MacArthur is predicting at least nine more. “I think he can score 40, we’ll see.”
Later in the stanza, Worcester captain Bobby Butler backhanded a pass to Reece Newkirk skating in on Theut. Newkirk beat the Thunder goaltender to tie it up. Theut called Newkirk “lucky” on the goal.
“He got lucky. [The puck] kind of went right in front of the net, and he chipped it over my pad. I chalk it up as lucky,” Theut said with a smile.
Only a minute into the final frame, the hometown boy, Shawn Weller, tipped the puck past netminder Ken Appleby. The puck slowly trickled onto the goal line and Appleby dove back to stop it, but he inadvertently knocked it in with his glove instead. Neither team scored the remainder of the game, and that ended up being the game-winner.
Weller with a great goal and an even better celly 🏒🎯 pic.twitter.com/Ici1tFu8kW
— Adirondack Thunder (@ECHLThunder) March 26, 2023
Special Night for Weller
Saturday’s game-winner will forever be a special memory for Weller and his family. He explains why here:
Grasso is currently on a seven-game point streak, with six goals and four assists during that span. Vidmar is on a three-game point streak, with five assists. Theut is on a three-game win streak, allowing three goals on 92 shots faced.
The Race for Fourth Place
Worcester (32-30-3-0) currently holds the final playoff spot in the North Division, but Adirondack (27-26-8-2) is close behind, trailing by only three points. The teams face each other five more times within the next three weeks. The Thunder have two games in hand, but they also have three games remaining against teams they have struggled against (Reading Royals, Maine Mariners). That being said, the Thunder seem to be thriving with their backs against the wall. They are 6-0-1-1 in their last eight games.
The Thunder travel to Reading Wednesday to take on the Royals (36-22-4-0). Reading holds a 7-2-0-0 record against Adirondack so far this season. The Railers host the Trois-Rivières Lions (24-36-3-0) Wednesday. That season series is evenly split, with each team picking up two regulation wins. Adirondack then heads to Worcester for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. The Thunder now hold a 6-5-0-1 record against the Railers, 6-1-0-1 after October.
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