GAME PREVIEW: Last Jackals Road Trip Opens Against Adirondack

Game 68: Elmira Jackals (17-42-7-1) at Adirondack Thunder (36-20-7-4)

7:00 p.m., Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York

The Jackals begin their final ECHL road trip with their last trip to Glens Falls to face the Adirondack Thunder Friday night. It's the eighth game of the season series and the first of three head-to-head meetings over the final two weeks of the regular season. Adirondack has controlled the season series, with six wins in seven previous games.

The Thunder have points in their last six games (5-0-1-0) to surge up to first place in the North Division with just five games remaining in the regular season. With a win over Orlando Tuesday night, the Thunder became the first North Division team to clinch a playoff berth with a 36-20-7-4 record. Their 83 points put them one ahead of Brampton for the division lead.

The Jackals are playing their best hockey of the season, with six wins in their last 10 games, including a pair over the Manchester Monarchs last week, and seven wins in March, the most wins in a single month this season. Elmira is now 17-42-7-1 on the season and with 42 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.      

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Last time out
 

Jason Kasdorf stopped all 26 shots he faced as the Jackals blanked the Manchester Monarchs, 2-0, Mar. 26 at First Arena. It was Kasdorf's first professional shutout.

Kasdorf stopped 13 Manchester shots through the first two periods and he got all the offense he would need late in the second period. With the Jackals on the power play, Nathan Moon sent a puck from the left wing circle toward the net. It tipped off the stick on a Monarch defender and into the net for a 1-0 lead at 15:46 on Moon's first goal with the Jackals. 

Kasdorf's busiest period of the night came in the third period when he faced 13 shots, stopping them all. He got an insurance goal at 11:51 when Kenton Miller extended his goal scoring streak to six games with a left circle shot to give the Jackals a 2-0 lead. Kasdorf carried the Jackals the rest of the way to a 2-0 win.

Playing spoiler

The Jackals have just five games remaining and they all come against the Manchester Monarchs and Adirondack Thunder, two teams in a tight race in the North Division. The results of these five games will decide who finishes where in the North Division playoff landscape.

Elmira is just 9-30-2-0 against their divisional opponents this season, but their best success has come against the Monarchs, with six wins in the 12-game series to date. Adirondack has points in all seven of the head-to-head matches (6-0-0-1) and the Monarchs have a 6-4-2-0 record against the Jackals.

The Jackals have finished their matches with Brampton, Reading and Wheeling. The Jackals went winless in nine games against Brampton and earned one win in 10 games against Reading and one victory in three matches with Wheeling.

Unstoppable

Jackals forward Kenton Miller continued his remarkable run since mid-February, extending his goal-scoring streak to a season-high six games, the longest active streak in the ECHL. He is now one game off the league's season-long streak of seven games, held by Toledo's Tyson Spink. During this six-game run, Miller has potted eight goals and added four assists.

The Sher-Wood Hockey/ECHL Player of the Week for Mar. 13-19 has 26 points (18g, 8a) over his last 20 games since Feb. 11. He has goals in 15 of the 20 games over the span and the 18 goals alone would rank second on the team this season. The Redvers, Saskatchewan native has 30 goals this season, the first time in his ECHL career he's reached that mark and the second time as a pro he's reached 30 goals, notching 32 with the Missouri Mavericks in the CHL in 2012-13.

Career highs

The Jackals have several players who have hit career highs throughout the course of the season. Leading the way is forward Sebastien Sylvestre, who has a career-high 52 points (23g, 29a) in just 62 games. His 23 goals are tied for his career high and his 29 assists are the most in his three-year career.

Defenseman Guy Leboeuf, who entered the season with one career goal, has potted three while appearing in all 67 games this year. Kenton Miller's 45 points are a personal best in the ECHL, but six off his career-high 51 points set in the CHL. With nine points in 20 games since being acquired in a deal with the Indy Fuel, Matt Stanisz has 19 points this season in 55 games, topping the 18 points he had as a rookie with Florida last season. 

In his second pro season, Casey Thrush has a career-high 30 points with career-bests eight goals and 22 assists. Defenseman Davis Vandane, also in his second season, has established new career-highs in goals (8), assists (25) and points (33).

Head-to-head

Tonight is the eighth game of the 10-game season series between the Jackals and Thunder. Adirondack has points in all seven games thus far, posting a 6-0-0-1 record and winning six straight after the Jackals opened the season series with a shootout win Oct. 25 in Glens Falls. The teams haven't met since the Thunder swept a home-and-home series Jan. 28-29.

The series's leading scorer Mikkel Aagaard, who has 12 points (2g, 10a) in seven games is currently recalled to AHL-Stockton, leaving Patch Alber's eight points (1g, 7a) as the high water mark among active players. For the Jackals, Sebastien Sylvestre leads the way with six points (3g, 3a) in seven games.

In net, both J.P. Anderson and Mason McDonald have two wins in two starts over the Jackals. Anderson has allowed just three goals and has a .939 save percentage while McDonald has given up five goals with an .898 save percentage. No active Jackals goalie has a win over Adirondack yet this season.


Scouting the Thunder

With a 7-2-1-0 record over their last 10 games, the Thunder have resurfaced in first place in the tight North Division with a 36-20-7-4 record. At 83 points, the Thunder lead Brampton by one point and Reading and Manchester by four points. They became the first North Division team to clinch a playoff spot with a win Tuesday over Orlando. 

Adirondack's offense ranks ninth in the ECHL at 3.64 goals per game. Captain Peter MacArthur leads the team with 59 points (21g, 38a) in 59 games, with 25 points coming on the power play. James Henry is second with 50 points (20g, 30a) and rookie Brian Ward is third with 41 points (23g, 18a). 

In net, J.P. Anderson has appeared in each of the last seven Thunder games, posting a 5-0-1-0 record in those games. On the season he has appeared in 26 games and is 15-4-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He is 11-3-3 in 20 games with the Thunder. Rookie Mason McDonald is 13-9-5 in 29 games with a 2.72 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.


Special teams

The Thunder power play opened the week by going 3-for-5 against the Orlando Solar Bears, rising to third in the ECHL at 24.2% (67-for-277). They are even better at home, ranking second with a 27.6% success rate scoring 42 of their 67 power-play goals on home ice. They've also torched the Jackals to the tune of a 30.4% success rate.

The Jackals have scored power-play goals in five of the last six games (7-for-19). At 38-for-221 the Jackals are 13th in the league with the power play at 17.2%.

Although they were 3-for-3 Tuesday against Orlando, the Thunder's penalty kill remains ranked 24th in the ECHL at 79.4%, giving up 48 power-play goals in 233 shorthanded situations. They have been better against the Jackals, stopping 17-of-20 chances (85.0%). 

The Jackals penalty kill was perfect in two tries Sunday against Manchester, remaining 21st in the ECHL on the kill at 80.3%, allowing 51 power-play goals in 259 chances. Their road PK has struggled, stopping just 77.4% of chances.