Picture Courtesy of Cody Conine
Tonight the Adirondack Thunder will face-off against the Maine Mariners for the first time this season in Adirondack’s first three in three games this weekend. Adirondack’s home-stand concludes on Saturday and going into tonight the Thunder are 2-0-1-0 during their four game home swing.
Last Friday, MacArthur called it the best game of the year.
“It was our best game of the year”.
After 10,410 fans packed the Cool Insuring Arena last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday it’s a quick turnaround for the Adirondack Thunder who currently sit one point behind the Maine Mariners in the north division. It’s another important weekend for Pete MacArthur’s Thunder group who are playing in their first three in three weekend with two games at home then on Sunday to begin their four game road-swing against Maine.
“We wanted to have a great week and not a good one, We devitied from our game plan which was the disappointing part and when we actually stuck to the game plan that’s when we tied the game up so we just got to stick to it, don’t deviate, we’ve a got a specific way that works for us and we’ve just got to stick to that, it’s great to get five out of six”. – Pete MacArthur after the 3-2 loss seven seconds into Overtime after Mason Millman’s game winning goal on Saturday.
Adirondack is 18-15-5-3 (9-7-2-2 at the Cool Insuring Arena) all-time against Maine. Once again it’ll be the battle of former Thunder teammates going at it behind the bench with Terrance Wallien and Pete MacArthur facing off. It’s the first of ten against the North Division rivals this season. The Thunder are 3-0-1-0 when leading after the first or second period.
Forward Nick Rivera is healthy and is ready to make a big impact to this Thunder lineup after making his return to the ice in game competition last Friday.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders, you know it sucks coming to the rink and not being able to participate with teammates especially teammates that are this close, we came off to a tough start but you can see it even in the building people rally around us, we have an honest team and we just got to keep getting better everyday and have a little belief”.
Adirondack enters tonight’s game with a record of 4-6-3-1 one point behind 5th place Maine who enters with 6-9-1-0. The Thunder also have two games in hand of the Mariners.
On Thursday, claiming him off waivers from the Newfoundland Growlers the Mariners added forward Chad Pietroniro.
Thunder fans can’t escape Pietroniro just yet as he’ll play in three games against them this weekend for Wallin’s Mariners. He’s played in seven ECHL contests this year and four of them have been against Maine. The 26-year-old forward from Montreal, QC, native has no points and nine penalty minutes in the early campaign this season. His younger brother Matteo is signed to an AHL deal with Toronto.
He spent most of the last five seasons with Asiago and Cortina in the Alps Hockey League before moving to France in 2021-22 to play for Mulhouse in Ligue Magnus.
Pietronillo has played in several junior hockey leagues, including the North American Hockey League, the United States Hockey League, and the Quebec Junior Hockey League. Before turning professional, he finished his junior career with his Terrebonne Cobras of Quebec Junior Hockey League in 2016-17. Pietroniro has also played defensively throughout his career.
Matthew Santos, Nick Master and Youtube star Pat Shea are leading the way in point leaders for Maine in the first week of December. Santos, (6G, 11A), Master, (5G, 10A) and Shea (7G, 5A) who have all played line minutes for Wallin’s club. Santos is fourth in the ECHL with 66 shots. Maine’s PK is second best in the league while in a visiting locker room at 93.3 percent (14-for-15). The Mariners in their last five games are 2-3-0-0.
Returning to the lineup since October 30th will be Garrett Van-Whye. Van-Whye, 25 will be playing in his sixth professional game, his 5th as a member of the Thunder. Van-Whye has been out for more than a month with a shoulder injury.
“Obviously, it’s a little frustrating, only being able to play first two weekends, and then getting a little banged up, but the road to recovery has been strong, just going in and working my tail off to get better and off the ice get that shoulder healthy and strong enough this weekend for the three in three”.
Colin Long will also be looking to give tonight a go after being out the past few weeks with a knee injury since November 16th. However, that has not been confirmed. Long, who previously had knee injuries last year which sidelined him for months, was out for cautionary reasons. Before his injury he was linemates with long time best friends Shane Harper and Shawn Weller.
It all but seems that Mareks Mitens is all but done for the year. Jake Theut has signed an AHL deal with the Utica Comets for the rest of the year. Theut, 29 has bounced between the SPHL, ECHL and with a few stints in the AHL, he’ll finally get his shot. Theut has a 4-3-2 record with 3.04GAA & .901SV%. An incredible story. Theut has been assigned to Adirondack.
For those asking about Issac Poulter’s status and if he’ll return to the Thunder anytime soon. Amanda Stein has reported that this morning Mackenize Blackwood was on the ice with the other goalies ahead of the New Jersey Devils practice. Vanecek, Schmid were joined alongside Blackwood. He was a full participate in practice today. No time table return for Poulter but the Thunder could have two AHL goalies back in the organization for the first time since the ECHL season opened back on October 22nd. Those being Issac Poulter and Jake Theut.
Adirondack on Tuesday released forward Vladislav Mikhalchuk, 23, appeared in 12 ECHL games with one goal and was minus ten. Activated Garrett Van-Whye on Wednesday, Jake Theut went up to Utica to backup Poulter and then signed his AHL deal on Friday.
For now, Frank Marotte remains with the Thunder who played well for his first game since November 5th. He was 0-3, 5.93 GAA, .862SV% before being released by Dundee in the EIHL. Marotte last Saturday had his first ECHL start since April 30th when he was a member of the Allen Americans.
“It’s been awhile, I was overseas, I played must’ve been two, three weeks, so it felt good to get back out there, the guys played super hard and the crowd was amazing too”. That was Marotte after the OT loss on Saturday.
He added: “Yeah I think, I battled hard, tried to keep it as simple as I could, it’s been awhile since i’ve played so I tried to go out there and do my thing and give my team a chance to win”.
For those who have asked on if Nick Hutchinson would be reuniting with the Thunder anytime soon, the answer is no. Hutchinson is on a one way AHL deal.
How about Jeremy Groleau?
My answer is MAYBE. Gorleau has played in one game out of his last seven.
Utica currently has 13 healthy forwards, Talvite and Laberge are out on injuries. 8 defenseman in Utica with Vukojevic and Groleau as the extra’s. Dylan Blujuis has also appeared in five contests for the Comets. Geertsen returned from his six game suspension with his first game tonight back in Utica.
So is it possible that the Thunder get a body before taking the trek to Albany airport, sure. But highly unlikely.
Projected Starters for tonight unless Brandon Bussi returns to Maine tonight however nothing has come across the AHL transactions ticker will be Michael DiPietro, 1-1-0-0, 5.55GAA, .843 SV% vs. Jake Theut 4-3-2-0, .304GAA, .901SV%.
Tonight’s 7:00 P.M. broadcast will be exclusively on FloHockey TV and as always fans can tune into Hits 95.9 with the pre-game show with Rob Lippolis at 6:45pm.