Man, the schedule early on for the Adirondack Thunder hasn’t been very friendly. Between Reading and Newfoundland Adirondack has certainly battled competing with teams within their own division. They finally get out of the North for this weekend but the downfall is they take on the first place in the Mountain Division, second in the league Utah Grizzles.
Back on Home Ice Feeling
The Adirondack Thunder will have home-ice advantage all weekend as they battle the Utah Grizzlies for three games in three days. Their opponent is coming to the Cool Insuring Arena with the second-best record in the league with 12 points. It’s the second weekend that the Adirondack have three games in three games after going 1-2 in Newfoundland last weekend. Another true test for the Thunder who faced the top team in the league last weekend.
Adirondack is back on home ice after an overtime 3-2 loss against Reading on Saturday October 30th.
Roster Roulette between the AHL and ECHL
Luke Martin, Charle Edouard-D’Astous and Matthew Boucher are top point leaders early in the first eight games for Kevin Bruder’s club. Grizzlies captain Trey Bradley was white hot with eleven points and is still leading the ECHL in goal scoring even after being called up to the American League on Tuesday. So, it looks like Utah will be without their top point leader for the weekend.
Even with the absence of Bradley, Colorado sent back 2016’ rd 6’ #161 overall 23-year-old defenseman Nate Clurman. Clurman after being drafted finished his college hockey career at the University of Notre Dame. He was named captain his final and senior year during the shortened COVID-19 year. A plus ten in 103 games at the collegiate level. Clurman made the Eagles (AHL) out of training camp to start the season but with a goose egg in the point department in a handful of games, Greg Cornin will bolster Utah’s blue line headed into the weekend. Clurman needs to play. His numbers show that he’s never been someone that you’d like on your fantasy team, but he’s got such a big frame that he has learned to reliably with being able to go end to end of the rink. Of course, it was a numbers game, but I think Bruder and Cornin can agree on he needs playing time and there’s no question that he will get top 2 minutes with Utah.
Colorado has made six roster moves within the AHL and ECHL so far to start the season less than two weeks into the season. The Avalanche have made a plethora of roster moves. You look at what’s going on with Colorado currently, and you think what’s going on? They are off to a slow-start and had some battles with COVID-19 and injuries but a 4-5-1 start, not the Avalanche we were hoping for.
Within this week alone, the Eagles recalled Kiefer Sherwood and Alex Newhook. But Utah has lost Sasha Mutala, Luka Burzan and spoken in the previously Trey Bradley. Sampo Ranta was one who made the NHL club to start the year, but Ranta just couldn’t get the pieces together within ten games with the Avalanche resulting in returning to the AHL. Utah also lost net-minder Trent Miner who has been with the Eagles since Halloween. That leaves Utah with Garrett Metcalf and Peyton Jones splitting ice team in-between the pipes this weekend. Metcalf looks to make his season debut after appearing in nine games last year for Utah going 4-4 with a 2.33 GAA with a .915 SV%.
Are They Questions or Excuses For Colorado’s Slow Start?
With all these injuries, players out with COVID-19 and a slow start that general manager Joe Sakic didn’t even think would happen, the big question is will he be on the phone this weekend, trying to make a trade with salary cap fluctuation with wanting to resign Nathan MacKinnon? It seems very possible. Maybe a 3rd or 4th line forward and a veteran for the Eagles could certainly happen. It’s no secret that Sakic isn’t happy with the start. They even missed out on the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. If they did get Eichel that Eagles and Grizzles roster could’ve looked VERY different. MacKinnon is out at least three weeks.
Special Teams Are A Factor, Who’s Hot, Who’s Not?
Utah and Adirondack are above 70% in the PK department. The Thunder’s percentage is at 78% while Utah’s is at 70%. Adirondack has also shinned in the power-play department topping currently 6th in the league. Players like MacArthur, Long, Laberge, Irvine, Grasso and Rivera who are key factors on the power-play. The top two lines are clicking for this squad. Now we’re only six games into this year’s season but Robbie Payne has had trouble finding his footing, but rookie Patrick Grasso has shined within this club playing in some key moments on the ice with his line mates Colin Long and Robbie Payne. Grasso has also grabbed some top line minutes with MacArthur and Laberge and switching with Irvine.
Shane Harper Aiming Return?
Around ten games in you start to see some patterns within clubs and Adirondack is looking to get their groove going with a few wins this weekend before the return of Shane Harper within a couple of weeks. When I talked to Shane earlier this week, he’s hoping to return the week of Thanksgiving so that Wednesday game against Newfoundland? Here’s to hoping that Adirondack has a weekend like they did against Florida when they came into town a few years ago. A sweep and this team is off to the races.