WORCESTER, Mass. — The Adirondack Thunder won Game 6 by a 3-1 final over the Worcester Railers on Monday evening at the DCU Center. With the victory, the Thunder won the best-of-seven series four games to two and advance to Round 2 of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, where they will take on the Manchester Monarchs.
Forwards Paul Rodrigues and Mike Szmatula, along with defenseman Desmond Bergin, scored for Adirondack in the victory. Goaltender Olivier Mantha, making his first career professional playoff start, turned aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced to earn the victory.
Adirondack opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally 8:27 into the game as Paul Rodrigues tallied his second goal of the series. The Oswego State product forced a turnover in the neutral zone, skated around the Worcester defense down the right wing and beat Railers’ netminder Eamon McAdam on the glove side for the goal, which was recorded as unassisted.
The Railers struck back 42 seconds later, just after the same power play had expired, as forward Barry Almeida scored his third goal of the series. Almeida, stationed at the top of the right-hand circle, took a feed from forward Matthew Gaudreau and fired a shot through traffic and past Mantha for the tying goal. Gaudreau and defenseman Ryan MacKinnon collected the assists on the play, the second of the playoffs for both players.
With only 2.5 seconds remaining in the first period, the Thunder took their second lead of the game as Bergin collected his first career goal in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The defenseman took a feed from forward Mike Szmatula off of a 3-on-2 rush, skated into the slot and beat McAdam underneath the crossbar on the blocker side for the goal. Szmatula collected the lone assist on the play, his first assist of the 2018 postseason.
After nearly 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Thunder iced the series with an empty-net goal by Szmatula with less than a minute to play in the game. The tally marked his second point of the evening and his second goal of the series.
The Thunder now advance to Round 2 of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and will take on the Manchester Monarchs in the North Division Finals. The series will open on Friday at Cool Insuring Arena and the Thunder will play the first four games of the second round on home ice.