Thun­der grab 2-1 se­ries lead; Game 4 Wed­nes­day

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS -

WORCES­TER, MASS. » The Thun­der held off a tor­rid 6- on-5, lategame Worces­ter rush be­fore Ryan Sch­melzer broke free and scored an empty-net­ter with 12.3 sec­onds left, giv­ing Adiron­dack a 3-1 in win ECHL Kelly Cup play­off ac­tion on Sun­day.

The Game 3 vic­tory gives the Thun­der a 2-1 edge in the be­stof-seven se­ries, with the next two con­tests slated for Glens Falls on Wed­nes­day and Satur­day, at 7 p.m. both nights.

Af­ter get­ting shut out the night be­fore, with only 14 shots on net, the Thun­der pep­pered the Worces­ter cage with 18 first-pe­riod shots alone on Sun­day. Macken­zie Black­wood, play­ing his third game in less than 48 hours, stopped 28 shots for the win.

“The last 2-1/2 min­utes was hard on our guys, but they put their bodies on the line,” Coach Brad Tap­per said. “Blackie did a great job in net. I thought the big­gest dif­fer­ence was we took a lit­tle bit more pride in our over­all game, get­ting pucks to the net, com­pet­ing at their net, com­pet­ing at our net and block­ing shots.”

Brian Ward put Adiron­dack in front, 1- 0, at 10:51 of the open­ing stanza as he beat Rail­ers goal­tender Mike McA­dam from the left side. The play started with a Dy­lan Olsen slap­shot from the top of the slot that McA­dam stopped, but couldn’t set­tle.

Ken­ton Miller took aim from the right side. The puck hit McA­dam again and car­omed left where Ward fi­nally sent it home.

The score came with 19 sec­onds left on a power play af­ter Worces­ter’s Con­nor Do­herty was called for rough­ing.

Mike Sz­mat­ula scored what proved to be the game-win­ner 2:48 into the sec­ond pe­riod. His shot, off a pass from Ward, went under the cross­bar from 15 feet way, be­tween the cir­cles.

Worces­ter an­swered 3-1/2 min­utes later when Jeff Ku­biak skated through a pair of Adiron­dack de­fend­ers, came in from the left side and ripped a shot past Black­wood’s stick side to make it, 2-1.

The Rail­ers started the third pe­riod with 1:34 left on a power play, but couldn’t get a sin­gle shot off. The Thun­der penalty kill is now a per­fect 12-for-12 in the se­ries.

Ac­tion was fast-paced from coast to coast as time wound down, al­though nei­ther side could add to their score. With four min­utes to go, McA­dam stopped three point-blank Thun­der shots in a row.

Worces­ter coach Jamie Rus­sell called for a time­out with 2:23 still left on the clock. When play re­sumed, McA­dam stayed on the bench in fa­vor of an ex­tra at­tacker. The Rail­ers threw ev­ery­thing they could at Black­wood, who some­how

fol­lowed the puck in the midst of a huge pileup in front of his net, and didn’t let any­thing get past him.

When the puck fi­nally came out, Sch­melzer raced down ice to seal the deal with his first goal of the se­ries.

The Thun­der could clinch the se­ries with wins Wed­nes­day and Satur­day, and ad­vance to sec­ond-round ac­tion against

Manch­ester or Read­ing. How­ever, Tap­per is tak­ing things one game at a time.

“We’re go­ing to have to play the right way, we’re go­ing to have to play with good struc­ture,” he said. “Our spe­cial teams is go­ing to have to be sharp. We’d like to see our ‘ Sev­enth Man’ show up and have a nice full-house crowd on Wed­nes­day. Let’s get his place rockin’.”

PHOTO ADIRON­DACK THUN­DER/ANDY CAMP

The Thun­der’s Ken­ton Miller, right, bat­tles a Worces­ter op­po­nent in ECHL Kelly Cup play­off ac­tion. Adiron­dack won, 3-1, on Sun­day for a 2-1se­ries lead. Game 4is at 7p.m. Wed­nes­day in Glens Falls.

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