ECHL Playoff Series Recap: Adirondack Thunder vs Norfolk Admirals | Round 2

Andy Camp/Adirondack Thunder

The Adirondack Thunder and Norfolk Admirals met in the North Division Finals in a highly anticipated seven-game series. Adirondack and Norfolk finished in the top two spots of the North Division, with the Thunder taking the top seed not only in the division but also in the conference. It was expected that it would easily be a six or seven-game series, which it was, but it didn’t play out as everyone expected it to, and there were certainly some surprises. The biggest one was that the Adirondack Thunder were able to pull off the reverse sweep; let’s take a deeper dive at some of the big headlines from the North Division Finals.

Home-Ice Disadvantage

Cody Conine/InsideTheRInk

Both teams were 1-2 on home ice coming into the series. However, Norfolk and the Trois-Rivieres Lions played a 3-4 format in the opening round, as the first three games were played in Trois-Rivieres. For the second straight series, Adirondack dropped the opening game at home. Unlike in the Maine series, they weren’t able to find a way to pick up the win in Game 2 and would head to Norfolk down 0-2, and against a team like Norfolk, things weren’t looking great for the Adirondack Thunder. Game 3 would be the turning point for Adirondack as they would sneak away with an OT win as Isaac Poulter would make 54 saves, breaking Drew Fielding’s previous record for most saves in a Kelly Cup Playoff Game, and Ryan Smith would score the game-winner with 1:41 left in the first OT to get the Thunder back into the series.

“You gotta win four games, not two simple as that”

Head Coach Pete MacArthur after the Game 2 Loss

Adirondack would go on to win the next two games in Norfolk, as the home team had yet to win in the first five games of the series. Heading into Game 6, Adirondack saw themselves in the same spot they did against Maine as they had a chance to close out the series in six games; unlike in the Maine series, Adirondack would take care of business in Game 6 and clinched their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, and earning themselves an extra day of rest before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The home teams would go 1-5 during the six-game series.

Physicality

Wyatt Nash/InsideTheRink

Coming into the series, it was well known that Norfolk had issues staying out of the box in the regular season, as they led the league with 1,490PIMS. In the first period, the physical play and chippiness were on display as Zach Walker threw a huge hit on Mark Liwiski, which ended up knocking him out for the rest of the series, as Walker would be suspended for one game for his hit. Walker wouldn’t be the only player who would get suspended in the series, as Keegan Iverson would get suspended one game for his cross-check on Mac Welsher in Game 4. Despite those two suspensions, the two sides would keep it relatively clean during the six-game series as they combined for 161 penalty minutes, with 59 of them coming in game four.

Key Players

Cody Conine/InsideTheRink

In the opening round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs vs. Maine Mariners, Ryan Smith and Yushiro Hirano combined for a goal and two assists, but they both played a massive part against the Norfolk Admirals. Smith would have a fantastic series against the Admirals, putting up six goals and two assists for eight points, and had the game-winning goal in all three games in Norfolk. Smith is currently on a four-game point streak. Yushiro Hirano would be the only player on either team to hit double-digits in points in the series, putting up three goals and seven assists for 10 points over the six games, and is on a six-game point streak. Shane Harper also played a key role despite missing Game 1, as he finished the series with two goals and five assists for seven points in five games and is on a five-game point streak.

“Round 2 starting at home we knew we needed to get to the net, two tip-in goals and I’m just trying to assert myself in the net front be a presense in front of the net, and it was in our game plan to get to the net and get some greasy ones and get to the net kinda like how we played against Maine just try to find some rebounds and tips

Ryan Smith after his two-goal performance in Game 1

For Norfolk, Stephan Timofeyev lit up the Thunder during the regular season, scoring three goals and adding eight assists for 11 points in seven games. The Russian forward continued his success against Adirondack in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, scoring three goals in five games. However, Timofeyev ended up being a healthy scratch in a win-or-go-home Game 6 for the Admirals. Norfolk was also without Carson Golder in Game 6 after suffering an injury in Game 5; Golder had a goal and four assists throughout the first two games of the series.

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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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