ECHL Playoff Series Recap: Adirondack Thunder vs Maine Mariners | Round 1

Adirondack Thunder/ECHL

The Adirondack Thunder and Maine Mariners had a series to remember in the opening round of the 2024 Kelly Cup Playoffs, as the two teams met in the North Division Semifinals. In the Playoffs, all everyone wants is good, competitive playoff hockey, and that’s exactly what they got in the opening round, as four of the seven games would be decided by one goal or less (excluding empty net goals) as the two teams would go blow for blow all series. In the end, it would be the Adirondack Thunder who would win Game 7 on home ice to advance to the North Division Finals as the top two teams in the North Division during the regular season will meet in Division Finals for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line, but let’s take a look at some of the storylines that came out of the seven-game series between Maine and Adirondack.

“They really gave it to us they were playing for their lives at the end of the year and they needed that last win to get in and kudos for them for getting it against us and getting it to a Game 7, hats of to their their staff and they players and staff, they played a really hard game, a shutdown game for seven games and that made thing really hard and frustrating for us. We like to get on the scoresheet a little bit, but being held to 2-1 and 2-0 games gets a little frustrating, they did a really good job but I’m really proud of the group we have in the locker room and how we were able to manage the stress and the anxiety of being in a series like this and direct it in a positive way so that we were able to win here on home ice”

Adirondack Forward Zach Walker on the seven game series vs Maine Mariners

Familiar Foes

Cody Conine/InsideTheRink

The Adirondack Thunder and Maine Mariners played each other 11 straight times, beginning on April 10th and ending with the Thunder’s Game 7 victory on May 1st. There’s no surprise that when two teams meet as often as Adirondack and Maine did, there really aren’t many secrets left, as both teams know exactly what to expect from each other. In a league like the ECHL, where physicality is always on display, one of the big things that came out of this series was the respect for each other and the limited amount of dirty checks/cheap shots from two teams who had to see each other for three weeks in a row. There’s no question that there were some hard hits thrown and some post-whistle scrums, but nothing really went over the edge in the series, which shows how much respect these teams have for each other.

“I think you can talk about both teams hand in hand, they brought they best out of us when we really needed it and I think we brought the best of them when they needed it. It was a heck of a series, you never know what’s gonna happen in a Game 7, it was a nerve wracking last 24 hours cause you just want it so bad and your out of control on the bench and kudos to both team and for all the ticky-tacky stuff that went on it was very respectful, there wasn’t a lot of dirty/cheap stuff for 11 games rows in the minor leagues and kudos to the players for that”

Head Coach Pete MacArthur on the 11-straight games against Maine

Tristan Ashbrook and Shane Harper led the Adirondack with seven points in the series. Ashbrook led all skaters with five goals in the series. Ryan Wheeler finished with three goals, playing in only five of the seven games. For Maine, Owen Pederson finished with five points in the series to lead the Mariners.

Goaltending

Miasara McLaughlin/InsideTheRink

Coming into the series, both teams were ranked in the top ten in goals per game, as the Thunder were fifth in the league and the Mariners seventh, which would make you expect a high-scoring series, but it would be the goaltending that would be on display for both sides in this series as Brad Arvanitis and Isaac Poulter would both have really solid series for their respective clubs keeping their team in every game. For the Mariners, Brad Arvanitis was a surprise for the Mariners as he had a very solid season, going 20-10-3 with a 2.71 GAA, .920SV%, and one shutout, which came against the Thunder. His game just got better as the season went on as he went 3-3 with a 1.69 GAA and .939SV% in six games during the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

“Arvy’s {Brad Arvanitis} been unbelievable, it’s been a fun journey with him. I think of him and Wyllum Deveaux as two guys at camp that we hadn’t really slotted into our lineup and here they are on our Kelly Cup Playoff Roster making massive impacts in our first round playoff series, really proud of both those guys but Arvanitis has been fantastic

Maine Mariners Head Coach Terrence Wallin on Brad Arvanitis after Game 6

For Adirondack, Isaac Poulter played absolutely lights out in the opening round, going 3-3 with a 1.02 GAA, .958SV%, and shutouts in all three of his wins. The difference maker in net came in Games 4 and 5 as the Thunder would roll out Jeremy Brodeur in Game 4 as he picked up the win by stopping 19 of the 22 shots, and Shane Starrett took the loss in Game 5, stopping 27 of 29 shots he faced.

He’s just a rock back there for us, like I said penalty killing he’s our best penalty killer, he’s our best player every game, he shows up every single game doesn’t take a night off and Brods {Brodeur}. Brods jumping in there and he saved that game for us in the second period he gave us an oppurtunity to win and having to fantastic goalytender in the playoffs in unbelievable and we’re very happy to have both of them, especially Poulty {Poulter},he’s found another level, he’s amazing to watch out there”

Interim Captain Darian Skeoch on the Isaac Poulter and Jeremy Brodeur this series

Special Teams

There’s no question that special teams are going to play a big part in any playoff series, and it was one of the big factors that allowed the fourth-seeded Mariners to make this a seven-game series. During the regular season, the Adirondack Thunder were fifth in the league on the PK (82.4%) and, after the opening round, sat in an identical spot, killing off 82.6% of the penalties they took. Maine, who finished the year 17th on the PK (75%), really thrived on the PK in the series, killing off penalties at a 90.6% mark as well as scoring two short-handed goals in the opening round, which led all Kelly Cup Playoff Teams. The Mariner’s PK would look more like a power kill and made things very hard for the Thunder to get things going on the man advantage and took advantage of the opportunities they got short-handed.

“We’ve been harping on it all it all series, we know when we are able to kill things off it swings the momentum heavily in out way, there’s a lot of guys on our team who take pride in PK and now guys are blocking shots, like Wally {Wallin} said blocking shots that might have been a record high for us tonight it shows you the willingness to put the body on the line and wanting that win and the momentum going the right way”

Maine Mariners Defenseman Andrew Peski after Game 3 when Maine went six for six on the PK

Adirondack also shut down Alex Kile, who finished the regular season with 37 goals and 46 assists for 83 points in 67 games and finished fifth in MVP Voting. This is the second straight year that Kile could not find the back of the net during the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

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Armand Klisivitch

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

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