There is no question that the Adirondack Thunder are a big part of the community in Warren County during hockey season, and the days of hockey in Glens Falls started in 1979. The city of Glens Falls has had a team there every season except for three years between 2007 and 2009. Since 1979 four different franchises have been affiliated with the team in Glens Falls; Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, and now the New Jersey Devils.
Adirondack Red Wings (1979-1999) (739-676-166-14-5)
The longest-tenured team in the history of Glens Falls is the Adirondack Red Wings, who spent 20 years in Glens Falls as an AHL team, and during those 20 years, they only missed the post-season once and won the Calder Cup four times, twice under Bill Dineen, and once under Barry Melrose. If the Dineen name sounds familiar, it’s because it is as Kevin Dineen is the head coach of the Utica Comets, and Pete Dineen spent two years as an assistant coach with the Adirondack Thunder. Both Dineen and Melrose would spend time as players with the Redwings before taking the coaching gig. Dineen had 13 goals and 44 assists for 57 points in 135 games, but what’s more notable are his 226 penalty minutes over that span. Melrose would have 13 goals, 27 assists for 40 points in 200 games, and also add 637 Pims. He would win the AHL Coach of the Year award in back-to-back seasons in 1985 and 1986, and in ’86, he led the Red Wings to their first of two Calder Cups during his time as Head Coach, the other would come in 1989 when he was General Manager and Head Coach of the Red Wings.
Before the 1989-90 season, Barry Melrose would become Head Coach of the Red Wings. Melrose would spend three seasons as the bench boss of the Red Wings as the team would go 115-100-25 during that time, as he would lead the Wings to a Calder Cup Championship in his final season with the Red Wings in 1992. Newell Brown would spend four seasons as the Head Coach of the Red Wings before Glenn Merkosky took over for the final three years of the Adirondack Red Wings era. Merkosky was a franchise staple as a player, as he put up 204 goals and 212 assists for 416 career points, all of which led the Red Wings franchise. He is the only player to have his number retired. When the AHL team moved out of Adirondack, Merkosky got a job with the Detroit Red Wings as a pro scout and spent 19 years with them as a scout. He is currently the GM and Head Coach of the Adirondack Junior Thunder.
Adirondack Ice Hawks and Adirondack Frostbite (1999-2006)
Once the Red Wings left town, The Glens Falls area would welcome the Adirondack Ice Hawks and Adirondack Frostbite to town as they were a part of the now-defunct United Hockey League. The first five years would belong to the IceHawks, and in the five years the team of existence, the team would make the playoffs four times. Unlike the Red Wings, who had some notable names go through the organization, no players from the Ice Hawks would go on to have any major success in the NHL. Hugo Belanger was a major standout during the Ice Hawks five seasons, as he put up 156 goals and 325 assists for 481 points in just 298 games; he led the franchise in games played, goals, assists, and points, and it wasn’t even close as Frank Littlejohn who is second in all-time points had 212 points. He would have 100 points in all four seasons he played with the franchise, including two 40+ goal seasons, and he’d 100 points in all four seasons as well.
In 2004, new ownership came in, and the Adirondack Ice Hawks became the Adirondack Frostbite. Just as in the Ice Hawk Days, it would be Belanger who’d lead the team in all three scoring categories during the team’s short two years as a franchise. The Frostbite would, unfortunately, get frostbitten in the opening round of the playoffs in each of the two seasons. On April 25th, 2005, the Adirondack Ice Hawks and Danbury Thrashers would set the record for the longest UHL History as the Thrashers defeated the Ice Hawks in Triple OT in a game that lasted five hours and twelve minutes which broke the previous record, which was set in a game between the Adirondack Ice Hawks and BC Icemen. In 2006, the Frostbite would cease operations, and it would be three years before hockey returned to Glens Falls.
Adirondack Phantoms (2009-2014, 161-191-14-22)
After a 10-year hiatus, AHL hockey returned to Glens Falls as the Adirondack Phantoms began play at the Glens Falls Civic Center as they were the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Phantoms would spend five seasons in Glens Falls. However, they would only have a winning record in one of the five seasons. Despite not having a winning record, the team was able to help produce a lot of players who would go on to make a name for themselves, including the likes of; Nick Cousins, Sean Couturier, Ray Emery, Erik Gustafsson, Patrick Maroon, and many more. Jason Akeson would lead the Phantoms franchise with 58 goals and 114 assists for 172 points in 208 games. Ben Holmstrom would lead the franchise in games played with 256 as he put up 49 goals and 73 points for 122 points over that time. For those of you who follow the ECHL, one notable name on the Phantoms roster was Eric Wellwood. In the three years with the Phantoms, he would put up 34 goals and 32 assists for 66 points in 164 games, and he saw multiple stints in the NHL with the Flyers, his longest one coming during the 2011-12 season, where he put up five goals and four assists for nine points in 24 games. Wellwood is currently the head coach of the Newfoundland Growlers.
Adirondack Flames (2014-2015) (35-33-6-2)
After one season, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to move their AHL club closer to Philly as the Phantoms would relocate to Leigh Valley. As the Phantoms moved out, the Calgary Flames would move their AHL team to Glens Falls, and for one year and one year, only the Adirondack Flames would call the Glens Falls Civic Center home. The Flames would be coached by Ryan Huska as the Adirondack Flames would be the beginning of his time in the Calgary organization, and he was recently named the head coach of the Calgary Flames. In the only season in Adirondack, the Flames would miss the playoffs despite having a winning record. David Wolf would lead the Flames that season with 20 goals, but it would be Kenny Agostino who’d lead the team in points as he had 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points in 67 games. A few notable names to come out of the Adirondack Flames who’d make the NHL besides Agostino would be; Markus Granlund, Brett Kulak, Devin Setoguchi, and a few others. Just like the Flyers did the year previous, the Flames decided to move their team closer to home as the team would relocate to Stockton. As the Flames left, it was the last time the Glens Falls team had an AHL team; however, hockey in Glens Falls would remain, just not at the AHL level.
Adirondack Thunder (2015-Present) (238-195-39-22)
As the Calgary Flames decided to move their AHL team closer to Calgary, it ended 26 years of AHL hockey in Glens Falls (at least for the time being), and with that, Glens Falls needed a hockey team, and thus the Adirondack Thunder were born and brought ECHL Hockey to the Glens Falls Civic Center which would be renamed to the Cool Insuring Arena in 2017. The Thunder have been successful, putting up a record of 238-195-39-22, making the playoffs in five of the seven seasons they’ve been in existence; one of those years was because the Kelly Cup Playoffs were canceled due to COVID. When you think of the Adirondack Thunder, some of the key names that come to mind are Pete MacArthur, Shane Harper, and James Henry. Both Shane Harper and James Henry served as Captains for the Thunder. James Henry is currently the all-time leader for the Thunder in goals(70), assists(161), points(231), and games played(303). Henry is currently the head coach of the Reading Royals. Pete MacArthur, who took over the captaincy when Henry retired, is second behind Henry in assists(122) and points (175). He also spent three years as the Thunder’s captain. Shane Harper took over the captaincy last season as Pete MacArthur hung up his skates and traded them in for a whistle as he was named head coach of the Thunder. Harper spent the past two seasons with the Thunder putting up 44 goals and 83 assists for 127 points; the California native also had a stint earlier in his career with Adirondack Phantoms, where he put up 20 goals and 21 assists in 143 games. The Adirondack Thunder will reach 500 games as a franchise on November 7th, as they visit the Worcester Railers at 10:30.
Some Notable names that have reached the NHL after playing for the Thunder include; Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood, Logan Thompson, and forward Ryan Lomberg.