Pro teams take ice in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The Adirondack Thunder professional hockey team fell to the Reading Royals in the first-ever regular-season professional hockey game played in Lake Placid Sunday night.

The game drew more than 1,500 people to the Herb Brooks Arena for the neutral site match in which the Thunder dropped their third straight game, 1-0. The Thunder play in Glens Falls, while the Royals call Reading, Pennsylvania home.

For the first period, the Thunder outplayed the Royals, putting 11 shots on net to five for the Royals. The Thunder was able to keep the action in the Royals’ end, keeping Reading goaltender Martin Ouellette busy, while Thunder netminder Drew Fielding spent most of the first stanza staying warm. Michael Kirkpatrick and Louick Marcotte did a good job keeping the puck in the Royals’ third for most of the first.

Royals players Todd Perry and Nikita Kashirsky both ended up in the penalty box in the first.

The second period saw the Royals come out with a little more spice, and they were able to keep the puck away from the Thunder with better handling and passes. Reading upped it’s shot count, putting nine on net, but the Thunder still put more pucks towards Ouellette. Tensions heated up a bit with the increased action in front of the nets with a couple of tussles in the second period.

But with only a little under seven minutes left in the period, Royals forward Kevin Goumas was able to bury a puck in the back of the net to put the visitors up. That lead would hold for the rest of the game, despite the Thunder posting more shots in each of the three periods.

Patch Alber, who played for Northwood School in Lake Placid, had some fine attempts on net for the Thunder. After getting the puck from Luke Curadi, Alber sent a rocket toward the Reading goal that was knocked away by Ouellette.

Reading came out with a bang to start the third, but Adirondack kept the pressure up and again outshot the Royals 15-7, but were unable to find the back of the net. Fielding kept up the good showing between the pipes, smothering several shots and making a couple of nice kick and glove saves on shots from Nick Luukko and Kevin Goumas.

Fielding was able to stop 20 of the 21 shots he faced, while Ouellette stopped 38 shots from the Thunder. Fielding had some key saves though, including on a slap shot from the circle that tipped off the top of his stick in the second.

Thunder head coach Cail MacLean was disappointed with the loss, but thought the team played well.

“I thought that we pressed pretty well, but our pucks aren’t finding holes,” MacLean said. “I thought that we handled it well. I don’t think I’m going to watch that and shake my head at a poor performance. They had a puck that found the back of the net, it was a good shot, and we didn’t.

“They had the one that found the back of the net.”

Michael Kirkpatrick said that playing on the Olympic rink was a great opportunity.

“It’s a really cool atmosphere, it’s a historic barn. Too bad we couldn’t get the W, but it was a fun night,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think we did a lot of good things, I thought we outplayed them. We just gotta keep up our work ethic, get more bodies in front of the net and get some ugly ones.”

“I played two full years here, so it’s kind of funny being back,” said Alber, who attended Northwood school for his junior and senior years of high school. “It was a lot of fun being up here. It’s nice to be back. The Olympic ice is a little bit different. It changes the game plan just a little bit, but you can’t let it get into your head.”

“One goal shouldn’t be the difference in a game like that. If we’re not scoring goals, we’re not going to win hockey games like that.”