GLENS FALLS — The Adirondack Thunder clinched a 2017 Kelly Cup Playoff berth with a 5-4 victory over the Orlando Solar Bears on Tuesday evening at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The Thunder became the first team in the North Division to lock up a playoff spot as they advance to post-season play for the second straight season.
The Solar Bears scored twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. First, forward Eric Faille collected his 25th goal of the season as he redirected a Chase Witala shot at the goal line that slipped through a gap between the skate of Adirondack goaltender J.P. Anderson and the post for the game’s first goal. Then, with 3:18 left in the period, Orlando doubled its lead as Justin Buzzeo found the back of the net for the 19th time this season. Tony Cameranesi dished a pass from the slot to Shane Conacher, who one-touched the puck to Buzzeo for the backdoor goal. Conacher and Cameranesi were awarded the assists on the play, Cameranesi’s 12th assist of the season.
2:48 into the second period, Adirondack got on the scoreboard for the first time on the evening with a goal Conor Riley, his eighth tally of the season. Thunder forward Cullen Bradshaw carried the puck to the goal line before he dished a backhand pass towards the crease to Riley, who finished with a quick wrist shot for the goal. Rookies Austin Orszulak and Bradshaw notched helpers on the goal, Bradshaw’s 15th of the season and ninth point over his last eight games played.
The Thunder knotted the game at two just over eight minutes into the second period as Cam Brown scored the first goal of his professional career. With Adirondack on a five-minute power play after Taylor Doherty was ejected for spearing, Ryan Culkin’s shot from the point was denied by Orlando netminder Ryan Massa, but the rebound fell to Brown in the slot where he slotted it home for the game-tying goal. Culkin and forward J.C. Campagna collected the assists on the play, Culkin’s ninth in 11 games this season.
Less than two minutes later, with Adirondack on a 5-on-3 advantage, the hosts took their first lead of the evening as Kevin Lough scored his fourth goal of the season for the 3-2 score. Defenseman Patch Alber fed the puck to Lough at the top of the left-hand circle where the Colgate University graduate fired through traffic for the goal. Alber and forward James Henry picked up the assists on the play, Alber’s 31st of the season.
Adirondack doubled its advantage at the 13:30 mark of the second period as Riley found the back of the net for the second time on the evening. Lough carried the puck along the offensive-zone boards before he skated towards the net and dished to Riley in the slot, who finished with a wrist shot. The 6-0 defenseman turned forward scored two goals in a game for the first time in his professional career while Lough and Campagna tallied helpers with the goal, the second point of the evening for both players.
2:12 into the third period, Solar Bears’ forward Mason Marchment found the back of the net for the ninth time this season to cut the Thunder lead to a single goal. Chris Cane deflected a wrist shot from the point, that was initially denied with a butterfly save from Anderson, but a net crashing Marchment swept up the rebound for the point. Crane and Chris Bradley tallied the helpers on the goal, Crane’s 22nd of the season.
Adirondack answered with a goal of its own, however, the third of the evening for the hosts on the man advantage at the 11:22 mark of the third period. From the left point, Culkin sent a cross-ice pass to Campagna, who teed off with a one-timed shot from the top of the right-hand circle for his fourth goal of the season and third point of the evening. Culkin and Brown collected the assists on the play, Brown’s first as a professional.
Orlando kept itself in the game as it decreased the Adirondack lead to a single goal as a rebound bounced back to Milos Bubela in the slot, who scored through the five-hole. Bubela tallied his eighth goal of the season, assisted by Marchment and Faille, who each notched their second point of the game.
Adirondack extends its point streak to six games as it moves to 36-20-7-4 on the season, good for 83 points and sole possession of first place in the North Division. The Thunder currently sit three points clear of the Brampton Beast for the division lead.
The Thunder are home again on Friday when they take on the Elmira Jackals at 7:00 p.m.