Photo Credit: The Post Star
Well, here we go, Thunder fans we’re officially seven days away from players reporting to training camp for team meetings, registration and players being able to pass their physicals, eight days away from training camp opening at the Cool Insuring Arena, and fourteen days away from Adirondack’s first pre-season game against Reading in Pennsylvania, but we are at the station aren’t counting. Just kidding. I think everyone is excited for the puck drop on the new season especially after the season that Adirondack had last year plus having head coach Pete MacArthur at the helm for his second season behind former Thunder captain Mike Bergin at the bench. I don’t think anyone especially John Pratt can forget what happened on the final day of the regular season last year (IYKYK).
Going into the 2023-24 season there will be high expectations for the Adirondack Thunder after breaking their very own playoff drought after four years and taking the Newfoundland Growlers to five games in the first round. Of course, the big elephant in the room is that Adirondack is hoping for a better start to the year than last season. After starting out 0 and 4 and MacArthur struggling by the Thanksgiving break it’s apparent that the Thunder must get on a better track, and it may also help that the Thunder aren’t playing Worcester the first four times this season. That has pretty much been the message from every returner that I have talked to as part of the Thunder off-season interviews brought to you by Old School Pest Control and Northern Wardens is that a better start is needed and everyone that’s new to the squad has stressed that that’s been what MacArthur has stated along with the returners.
Getting Patrick Grasso back for another season in North America is huge as of course he was not shy talking about going overseas last year while chatting with myself and Rob on the Monday night show On Center Ice on our sister station 98.5 WCKM. Grasso and I chatted in July, and he mentioned that he felt one more season in North America was key for his success. I will touch on this for a quick second, I have no idea if Shane Harper will be back with the Thunder at all this season that’s all but if this is the end for #11 what a career. Thought he’d make it one more go with Shawn Weller and especially with how well Harps and Grasso jelled so well during 3ICE in the summer but he still remains undecided on the future.
Can we also give it up to Pete for re-signing Grant Jozefek (who says he’s in the best shape of his life ahead of the season), Ryan Smith and Travis Broughman (who’s going to get a look in the American Hockey League these next few weeks, I just don’t know who yet, don’t have full confirmation). All those guys we’re in the top seven in point leading last season in the forward category). Adirondack missing XP (Xavier Parent) (He will be in Utica this year, and may get a look with Lindy Ruff in New Jersey, I’d be shocked if KD (Kevin Dineen) sends him here to start the season on the 21st of October) and Sebastian Vidmar who was slated to sign somewhere else in the ECHL, however that hasn’t made public yet, (plans might have changed) so I won’t chat about that situation until it becomes public knowledge.
KEY ADDITIONS & DEPARTURES
Devon Becker (D)
Brendan Less (D)
Jake Fletcher (LW)
Lucas Herrmann (F)
Zach Walker (RW)
Andy Willis (F)
Mike Robinson (Nottingham Panthers)
Jake Theut (Happy Retirement!)
Ivan Chukarov (traded to Jacksonville)
Kyle Halibauer ( Rødovre Mighty Bulls /Denmark)
Wayne Létourneau (traded to Rapid City Rush)
Dajon Mingo (Happy Retirement!)
Matt Slick (FA)
Jeff Taylor (Happy Retirement!)
Brady Fleurent (FA)
Matt Jennings (traded to Idaho)
Colin Long (FA)
Sebastian Vidmar (FA)
I left out so of the Utica Comets players here as some were signed to AHL deals still and will remain with the organization and could potentially come down to Adirondack to start the season. I’m not going into the guessing game or who could come down here because we’re still in Training Camp mode and everything can change with a blink of an eye. Injuries, battling for spots, contract clauses etc.). Although I do believe we are slated to get seven from Utica that includes goalies, defenseman, and forwards.
Wanted to give a few notes here before I log off; Hits 95.9’s first broadcast of Adirondack Thunder hockey is slated for October 21st in Worcester. At this moment we aren’t scheduled to broadcast both pre-season games vs. Reading. Our first On Center Ice show will begin on 10/23 after the first official weekend of regular season play. Myself, Rob and DJ are back for another season – Also the plan for me at the moment is to head to Syracuse (credential pending) on Saturday October 7th to cover the Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch game to see some of the Thunder players who will get their shot at the AHL level and who could be slated to come down here to the ECHL to start the year. Pretty sure that Jeremy Brodeur and Issac Poulter will get time in both games. That’s all for now, I’m sure we will chat again at some point and you’ll see me around the rink this winter.