READING, PA – The Adirondack Thunder have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season including getting their scoring touch back. After netting just six goals in their previous four games, the Thunder struck for eight on Friday night en route to an 8-3 thrashing of the Reading Royals.
After Michael Huntebrinker scored early for Reading, Conor Riley tied the game at the 15:28 mark of the opening frame. Riley collected a slight tap-pass from Brian Ward and went forehand-backhand top shelf past Angus Redmond for his team-leading eighth score of the year. Ward and Alex Carrier picked up the helpers on the goal, Carrier’s first point of the season.
Matt Salhany gave the Thunder their first lead of the game less than a minute into the second period. Mike Szmatula fed the former Royal with a pass to spring a 2-on-1 break down the left wing. Salhany found Matias Cleland who fired a shot that Redmond got a pad on, but Salhany was sitting on the doorstep to bang home the rebound for a 2-1 Thunder lead.
Adirondack doubled its advantage when Mike Szmatula scored his first of the game with 16:16 to play in the middle period. Desmond Bergin sprung Szmatula with a pass from the Thunder defensive zone that allowed the rookie forward to get in behind the Royals defense. Unabated to the net, Szmatula took his time and roofed a wrist shot past Redmond for his seventh score of the season.
Less than five minutes later, Dennis Kravchenko lit the lamp for his fourth score of the year. Shane Conacher found Kravchenko in stride heading into the offensive zone down the right wing. Kravchenko pushed his shot far side past the blocker of Redmond for a three-goal Thunder lead.
Riley tallied the Thunder’s fifth goal off a beautiful feed from Szmatula. The University of Minnesota product carried the puck behind the Royals cage and slid a no-look pass to Riley who was charging up the slot. Riley buried the one-timer for his team-leading ninth score of the season.
Jake Linhart got the Thunder blueliners in on the scoring action with less than two minutes remaining in the second. Conacher led the charge after a Royals turnover when he fed Peter MacArthur in front. With his back to the net, MacArthur shifted the puck over for Linhart who finished top-shelf for his second score of the season and a 6-2 lead.
Cullen Bradshaw and Szmatula would add on goals for Adirondack in the final period. Bradshaw converted after a great passing set from Kevin Lough to Conacher who found Bradshaw alone in front. The fourth-year pro made no doubt about his shot that extended the lead to 7-3. The assist was Conacher’s third of the night. Szmatula potted his second of the evening and fourth in two games to cap off the scoring with just over 90 seconds to play. Kravchenko found Szmatula camped in front of the net on the power-play to make it an 8-3 game.
Huntebrinker, Steve Johnson and Alex Krushelnyski were the goal scorers for Reading.
Alex Sakellaropoulos picked up the win in net for the Thunder as he turned aside 23 shots on the night.
The two teams will come back to Glens Falls to complete the home-and-home set tomorrow evening. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m.