ECHL: Adirondack Thunder 2023-24 Season Recap

The Adirondack Thunder had a historic 2023-24 season, putting together a 43-18-7-4 record for 97 points as they would win both the North Division and Eastern Conference during the regular season; it was the first time since 2018 that the Thunder had won the North Division and the first time in Franchise history that the team had won the Eastern Conference. Leading the charge was Head Coach Pete MacArthur and Mike Bergin, each in their second year behind the Thunder bench. They would begin the Kelly Cup Playoffs by beating the Maine Mariners in seven games, then coming back from down 2-0 to win four straight against the Norfolk Admirals, including three on the road to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would lose in six games to the Florida Everblades.

Leading Scorers

Rich LeBlanc/Inside The Rink

Tristan Ashbrook– For the second straight season, they had a 30-goal scorer after Patrick Grasso put up 37 goals during the 2022-23 season; Ashbrook would finish the season with 32 goals and 25 assists for 57 points in 69 games with Adirondack after signing with the Thunder after being released from the Savannah Ghost Pirates. The 25-year-old forward played a big role for the Thunder once Grasso went down with a season-ending injury as Ashbrook took over the scoring touch for Adirondack. He would also lead the Thunder with eight PP goals.

Shane Harper– For the second straight season, Shane Harper was a point-per-game player, picking up 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points in 56 games after joining the team in November as the 35-year-old forward was unsure if he would even play this season but mentioned that one of the reasons he came back is due the fact that the Thunder had such a strong start to the year and look poised to make a playoff run. For Harper, he won’t commit to anything just yet, but he believes this might have been his final season.

“I really didn’t even think about saying anything and then after the game was over I wasn’t sure what to say. I’m assuming I will not be coming back but the game just ended so I’d probably think about it for a little bit, I don’t know if I’d come out with a statement or what not, I think I’ll be done but cause the game just ended I won’t just axe it but I’m probably sure that was my last game with the Thunder but time will tell”

Shane Harper on the possibility of coming back next year

Yushiro Hirano- The Adirondack Thunder didn’t have many players at the beginning of the year that had a decent amount of prior ECHL experience, but one of those players was Yushiro Hirano. The Japanese forward was coming into his fifth year in the ECHL after spending time with the Wheeling Nailers and Cincinnati Cyclones. Hirano finished the season just three points shy of his previous career high, as during the 2023-24 season, he’d put up 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points in 59 games and was a big part of Adirondack’s top PP unit.

Oh, Captain, My Captains

Cody Conine/InsideTheRink

The Adirondack Thunder began the 2023-24 season without a captain, and when the season ended, they had two players who wore the C: Patrick Grasso, who was named captain on October 20th, and Darian Skeoch, who took over the role on an interim basis on March 31st until the end of the season, replacing Grasso while he was hurt. Both Grasso and Skoech played major roles for the Thunder during the course of the 2023-24 season, but in very different ways.

Patrick Grasso

Patrick Grasso had a strong 2022-23 campaign, with the Thunder putting up 37 goals and 22 assists for 59 points in 64 games with the Adirondack, and would carry that momentum into the 2023-24 season as he would once again come out of the gate strong putting up eight points in the first 11 games of the season. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Grasso would suffer a season-ending injury on January 26th vs Newfoundland Growlers; he would finish the season with 21 goals and 12 assists for 33 points in 39 games and would break the Record for Franchise Goals on January 6th vs Maine Mariners.

Darian Skeoch

One of the big things for Adirondack going into the 2023-24 season was that they needed toughness on their roster, and the Thunder addressed that issue as they signed Yanick Turcotte in the off-season, but he ended up going overseas, so Adirondack attempted to fill that void with Nico Blachman. The 26-year-old forward would spend 26 games with the Thunder but would be released as Adirondack had already had some toughness as they acquired Darian Skeoch from Savannah and had a couple of players getting healthy, which led to Blachman no longer being needed by the Thunder. Skeoch wouldn’t do much offensively for the Thunder but would prove to be a big part of Adirondack’s blueline in the second half and was one of those guys who wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Late in the season, the Adirondack Thunder decided to name an interim Captain with the status of Patrick Grasso being unknown, and it would be Skeoch who would end up wearing the C for the Thunder for the remainder of the regular season and the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Ontario native finished the season with a goal and eight assists in 56 regular season games with the Ghost Pirates and Thunder; he would add an assist in 19 Kelly Cup Playoff Games with Adirondack.

“Grateful”, just grateful for the oppurtunity I got here, grateful for the people here, grateful for coaches bringing me here, grateful for the guys in the room, the whole staff , Jeff {Jeff Mead}, I’ve been treated unbeliavably and I know everyone else here has as well, top notch. I didn’t know anything about this place, to be completely honest when I got the call, I said Ya i’m probably not coming, and then it’s probably one of the best decsions I’ve made to come here to be a part of the group and for it to come to an end tonight, it’s tough for sure”

Darian Skeoch on his overall thoughts since joining the Thunder since coming over from Savannah

Late Season Additions

Rich LeBlanc/InsideTheRink

Andre Ghantous- Ghantous had a strong season with Adirondack after joining the team from Northern Michigan University. He spent five seasons there, scoring three goals and 10 assists for 13 points in 13 games. He proved to be a massive part of the Thunder’s offense down the stretch and was a scoring machine. His play earned him a couple of stretches in the AHL with the Utica Comets at the end of the season.

We tried to get him last year but he wanted to go back for his fifth year but now we were able to land him so, we knew he would be a good player but we never thought he’d have four points in his first two games, he something this team needs here down the stretch”

Pete MacArthur after the first weekend with Andre Ghantous

Jackson van de Leest– Adirondack had already had a physical blueline with Colin Felix and Darian Skeoch, but van de Leest, at 6’7 was not a guy who was known to throw around the body but played a very solid game defensively and could move the puck well which was a huge addition to the Thunder and one of the reasons they were able to move Ryan Wheeler up front where Wheeler would find his offensive game.

Alex Young- The Arizona State forward joined the Thunder in Allen and made an impact right away, putting up a goal and an assist in his first pro game with the team. He would play well enough with Adirondack in the final seven games to crack the Thunder’s Kelly Cup Playoff Roster.

History Was Made, and Records Were Broken

First Eastern Conference Championship in Franchise History

First North Division Championship Since 2018

Patrick Grasso- Broke the Adirondack Thunder Franchise record for goals, picking up his 78th goal with the Thunder on January 6th.

Isaac Poulter- Tied the record for most shutouts during a Kelly Cup Playoff Run (4)

Pete MacArthur- Most Kelly Cup Playoffs Wins by a Single Head Coach in Franchise History (10)

It’s pretty cool to be part of the histroy of the rink for real now, super special, the message to the team after the game was we have some “warts” as a team and that’s why we are all at this level and we are all trying to get better but we got so far because of the connection we have with the community and the connection that they have with each other in there so I’m super proud to be a part of it”

Head Coach Pete MacArthur on the 2023-24 season

Goaltending

Latoya Fournier/InsideTheRink

Coming into the season, we knew that one of the Thunder’s biggest strengths would be their goaltending, as they had a three-headed monster in net. They would not only meet their expectations in net, but one could say that the goaltending overachieved during the 2023-24 season. Adirondack, for the first time in a long time, had some stability in net, with only four different goaltenders seeing action with the team this season after starting the season with a trio of Tyler Brennan, Vinnie Purpura, and Jeremy Brodeur. Isaac Poulter would come down late in the season and played a huge role in the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the Thunder. Brodeur and Purpura would both finish the season in the top 15 in GAA among all ECHL goaltenders.

“Three great goaltenders is a good problem to have”

Head Coach Pete MacArthur when asked about the goaltenders

Tyler Brennan

The 2023-24 season was a tough one for the 20-year-old goaltender in his first year pro after spending four seasons in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars. Brennan played in just 13 games, putting up a 5-5 record with a 3.16 GAA, .896 SV%, and one shutout. It was also a matter of consistency for Brennan; when he was on his game, he was really on his game, but when he was struggling, he was really struggling. Another big factor for Brennan was that he struggled with injuries, finding himself on the IR at multiple points of the season. Despite being injured, Brennan spent a lot of time around the team and was seen chatting with the backup goalies during most home games. The Winnipeg native has two years left on his entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Vinnie Purpura

Vinnie Purpura came into the 2023-24 season as the Thunder’s third goaltender and easily became one of the top goaltenders in the ECHL as he didn’t record his first regulation loss till November 12th vs Trois-Rivieres Lions. The 6’6 goaltender finished the season with a 15-4-4 record with a 2.78 GAA, .908SV%, and one shutout. He would be named Rookie of the Month for December, a month where he would go 6-0-1 with a 2.18 GAA and .932SV% in seven games. Purpura would unfortunately suffer a season-ending injury at the end of March, which was the second straight season in which his season ended due to an injury.

Jeremy Brodeur

Jeremy Brodeur made his return to the ECHL after spending most of the 2022-23 season in England with the Manchester Storm after playing just two games with the South Carolina Stingrays. He would play in 32 games with the Thunder, going 18-9-3 with a 2.56 GAA, .918SV%, along with two shutouts. The 27-year-old goaltender would end up leading Thunder netminders in wins and shutouts. Brodeur played a huge part for the Thunder, being the only goaltender who was able to stay healthy this year and would see a decent amount of playing time when Tyler Brennan went down and then again when Vinnie Purpura went down. In the Kelly Cup Playoff, Brodeur would continue his strong play, going 3-1 with a 2.47 GAA and .917SV% in six appearances, four of those being starts.

Isaac Poulter

The 22-year-old goaltender spent most of the 2023-24 season in Utica and showed why he deserved to be there, putting up a 17-8-1 record with a 2.55 GAA, .911SV%, and four shutouts. He would end up being the number one at times in Utica due to injuries and had no problem in that role. Poulter would end up back in Adirondack at the end of the season as, for the first time all season, the Devils and Comets had most of their goalies healthy, which led to the overflow sending Poulter back to the ECHL for the first time since the 2022-23 season. In six games at the end of the regular season, Poulter went 5-0 with a 2.44 GAA and .917SV%, which would earn him the starting gig for the Thunder in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Poulter went 7-8 with a 1.86 GAA, .939SV%, along with four shutouts.

insidetherink.com/join-us

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ECHL: Tahoe Knight Monsters Add Two Forwards To Roster

The Tahoe Knight Monsters busy signing week continued on Friday as the team announced that they signed forwards Adam Robbins and Chris Dodero to contracts for the 2024-25 season. Robbins, 24, joins the Knight Monsters after playing four years at Princeton University, where he scored 21 goals and 37 assists for 58 points in 111 […]

Read More
Jack Quinlivan Announces Retirement

ECHL: Jack Quinlivan Announces Retirement

Jack Quinlivan has officially announced his retirement from professional hockey. Jack Quinlivan, who has spent the past two years with the Railers, is an inspiration to many. He has battled cancer and officially beat it. It was a freak accident that happened to Quinlivan while playing the game that he loves. There was an abnormal […]

Read More

ECHL: Kansas City Mavericks Re-Sign Casey Carreau for the 2024-25 Season

The Kansas City Mavericks have re-signed forward Casey Carreau for the 2024-25 ECHL season. “Casey is a heart and soul teammate”, said Mavericks General Manager and Head Coach Tad O’Had. “He competes incredibly hard and can contribute to the power play, penalty kill, and the lineup. Casey plays with a great deal of speed and […]

Read More