MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Adirondack Thunder earned 6-0 victory over the Manchester Monarchs in Game 5 on Sunday evening at SNHU Arena. With the win, the Thunder took a 3-2 series lead in the North Division Finals with Game 6 tomorrow in New Hampshire.
Adirondack was led offensively by forward Mike Szmatula, who collected a professional career-best two goals and three points in the win. Forwards Ryan Schmelzer and Kenton Miller, along with defensemen Blake Thompson and Colton White, scored in the victory. Goaltender Drew Fielding earned his first career Kelly Cup Playoffs shutout as he turned aside 37 shots in the victory.
The Thunder opened the scoring midway through the first period as White collected his second goal of the series to put his team ahead by one. Forward Pierre-Luc Mercier fed White to create a 2-on-1 rush and the Thunder blueliner used forward Austin Orszulak as a decoy and fired over Manchester netminder Evan Cowley’s glove hand for the goal. Mercier and forward Tim Harrison collected the assists on the play, Mercier’s third of the postseason.
Adirondack doubled its advantage less than five minutes into the second period as Schmelzer scored his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs for a 2-0 lead. After forward James Henry drove down the left wing and dished the puck to the slot for a charging Schmelzer, the Canisius product collected and fired his shot underneath the crossbar to double the Adirondack advantage. Henry tallied the lone helper on the play, his tenth of the 2018 playoffs.
The visitors scored a pair of goals just over two minutes apart to take a 4-0 lead into the second intermission. First, 12:29 into the middle stanza, Thompson walked the blueline and sent his shot through traffic and past a screened Cowley for his first career playoff tally. At the 14:49 mark of the middle stanza, Adirondack struck again as Szmatula collected his third goal of the playoffs. The Minnesota product stole the puck in the offensive zone, danced around the Manchester defense and beat Cowley through the five hole. The fourth tally ended Cowley’s evening as Charles Williams entered the game in net.
Szmatula netted his second goal and third point of the evening early in the third period to open up a five-goal advantage. Szmatula and Schmelzer entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush and Szmatula cut to the middle before he roofed his shot over the glove hand of Williams. Forward Terrence Wallin and defenseman Desmond Bergin tallied the assists on the play, the second helper of the evening for Wallin.
Adirondack added its sixth tally of the evening past the halfway mark of the third period as Miller collected his first goal of the postseason. With Miller stationed at the back post, Henry hit him with a cross-ice feed where he buried his second attempt from close range for the goal. Henry and forward Brian Ward collected the assists on the play, Henry’s league-leading 11th of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Thunder and Monarchs are back in action tomorrow evening with Game 6 of the North Division Finals at 7:00 p.m. at SNHU Arena.