GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Thunder were unable to hold an early lead as they fell 6-5 to the Worcester Railers in Game 5 of the North Division Semifinals on Saturday evening at Cool Insuring Arena. With the defeat, Adirondack now leads the best-of-seven series three games to two heading into Game 6 on Monday in Worcester.
Five different Thunder players found the back of the net in the loss and 12 players overall recorded a point on the evening, led by forward James Henry who tallied two assists. Goaltender Olivier Mantha recorded 20 saves in his first career action in the Kelly Cup Playoffs as he appeared in relief of MacKenzie Blackwood.
Worcester got on the board just 35 seconds into the game as forward Josh Holmstrom collected his first goal of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs. After earning possession of the puck behind the Thunder net, forward Nick Saracino fed Holmstrom in front where he beat Blackwood for the goal. Saracino and forward Matt Lane collected the assists on the play, the first point of the postseason for both players.
Adirondack rebounded with a pair of goals just 63 seconds apart to take its first lead of the evening. First, at the 6:52 mark of the first period, the Thunder scored on the power play as Thunder forward Ryan Schmelzer put a nifty move on Worcester goaltender Mitch Gillam for his third goal of the postseason. Just over a minute later, Adirondack struck again as defenseman Mike Bergin collected his first goal of the season off of a Paul Rodrigues feed to pull the Thunder ahead. Rodrigues and forward Henry tallied assists on the play, Rodrigues’ third point of the 2018 playoffs.
The Thunder struck again just past the halfway mark of the opening period as forward Shane Conacher scored a power-play goal 12:14 into the game to enhance his team’s lead to 3-1. Henry led a rush down the left wing and threw a puck towards the net that kicked off of Gillam’s pad, off of Conacher’s skate and into the back of the net for Conacher’s first goal of the postseason. Henry and defenseman Colton White picked up the assists on the play, Henry’s second point of the evening.
The hosts opened the scoring in the second period as Harrison scored his second goal of the playoffs 5:49 into the middle stanza. After a Worcester turnover deep in its own end, the puck redirected into the slot to a charging Harrison, who powered his slapshot through Gillam’s legs for the 4-1 advantage. Harrison’s goal, recorded as unassisted, ended Gillam’s evening as netminder Eamon McAdam entered the game for Worcester.
The Railers pulled back to within a pair of goals just 1:09 later as Saracino tallied his first goal of the postseason. After a scrum in front of Mantha’s net, the puck kicked to a charging Saracino, who fired his wrist shot into the net to cut the Adirondack advantage to 4-2. Holmstrom and defenseman Justin Hamonic collected the assists on the play, Hamonic’s first point of the postseason.
The visitors added two more goals in the second period to tie the game heading into the intermission. First, 11:55 into the middle stanza, forward Matthew Gaudreau scored off of a rebound from inside the left-hand circle to cut his team’s deficit to a single goal. Just 60 seconds later, the Railers struck again as forward Matt Lane tallied his first goal of the 2018 playoffs. After forward Woody Hudson created a turnover in the neutral zone, he fed Lane on the left wing and the 5-10 winger shot past Mantha on the glove side for the tying goal.
The Thunder regained their one-goal lead just 19 seconds into the third period as Ward scored his team-leading fourth tally of the 2018 playoffs. After forward Terrence Wallin won the puck in the corner, he fed defenseman Mathieu Broduer at the right point. The 6-6 blueliner fired a shot that was redirected by Ward in the slot for the 5-4 advantage. Brodeur and Wallin collected the assists on the play, Wallin’s first point of the postseason.
Worcester took the lead for good as Saracino completed his hat trick with a pair of third-period goals. First, 3:32 into the final stanza, Barry Almeida hit Saracino with a pass down the left wing, where he fired underneath the crossbar for the tying goal. With 5:58 left in regulation, the Railers took their second lead of the evening as Saracino converted again. With Worcester on the man advantage, Saracino one-timed a feed from defenseman Tommy Panico into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal to complete the first three-goal game of Saracino’s professional career.
The two teams are back in action on Monday evening as the Thunder and Railers square off in Game 6 at the DCU Center. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 p.m. in Worcester.