Game 71: Elmira Jackals (17-45-7-1) vs. Adirondack Thunder (39-20-7-4)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals begin their final weekend with the first game of a two-game set against the Adirondack Thunder on Superhero Night at First Arena. It's the ninth game of the 10-game season series, which the Thunder have controlled with seven wins through the first eight games.
The Thunder are red hot, going 8-0-1-0 in their last nine games to charge into first place in the North Division and they can wrap up the division title this weekend. On the season, Adirondack is 39-20-7-4 and they lead the division with 89 points, three ahead of Brampton with just two games left this weekend.
The Jackals were swept in three straight road games last weekend at Adirondack and Manchester in the final three road games in Jackals history. Overall, the Jackals are 17-45-7-1 on the season and with 42 points, they are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out
The Manchester Monarchs scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and edge the Jackals, 4-2, Apr. 2 at SNHU Arena in Manchester. With the win, Manchester took the season series 8-6 in 14 games.
The Jackals took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Anthony Stefano's first professional goal at 12:10. He took a pass from Nathan Moon to spring a breakaway, which he deposited despite being hooked, to give the Jackals an early lead. Manchester responded with two goals in the second period. Kevin Morris banged home a rebound near the crease to tie the game at 10:04. Then Mario Puskarich wristed a shot from the slot to give the Monarchs a 2-1 lead at 14:24.
Elmira tied the game 3:54 into the third period on a power-play goal from Davis Vandane, whp ripped a one-timer from the left circle. The game remained tied for nearly 10 minutes, until Zac Lynch scored from the slot at 12:50 to put Manchester ahead for good, 3-2. Joe Diamond sealed the game with an empty-net goal at 19:23 to make it a 4-2 final.
Blue line blasts
Davis Vandane had a strong week for the Jackals this past weekend, potting three goals in three games. He blasted a power-play goal in each game, ripping a one-timer from the left circle in each instance. The second-year pro is riding a six-game point streak (4g, 4a) heading into the final weekend and he has points in eight of his last nine games (4g, 7a).
The righty-shooting defenseman is fourth on the Jackals with 36 points (11g, 25a), all of which are career highs. His six power-play goals are second on the team behind Kenton Miller's 10 power-play goals.
Rolling at home
Jackals forward Kenton Miller has played his best hockey on home ice and he is riding a six-game goal scoring streak at First Arena, netting eight goals in that stretch. The longest home streak in the league this year is shared by three players at seven games, but Miller's is the longest active streak in the ECHL.
Miller, who has 27 points (18g, 9a) over his last 23 games, has dominated opposition in Elmira. In 31 home games with the Jackals, the Redvers, Saskatchewan native has 32 points (21g, 11a). Overall with the Jackals he has 44 points (29g, 15a) and, including his time with Wheeling to begin the season, he has reached 30 goals for the first time in his ECHL career.
Tonight is the ninth game of the 10-game season series between the Jackals and Thunder. Adirondack has points in all eight games thus far, posting a 7-0-0-1 record and winning seven straight after the Jackals opened the season series with a shootout win Oct. 25 in Glens Falls.
Three active players--Patch Alber, Brian Ward and Peter MacArthur--lead the series in scoring with eight points, trailing only Mikkel Aagaard (2g, 10a) who is on recall with AHL-Stockton. For the Jackals, is tops among active players with four points in five games.
In net, both J.P. Anderson has three wins in three starts and Mason McDonald has two wins in two starts over the Jackals. Anderson has allowed just five goals and has a .931 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 points in their last nine games (8-0-1-0), the Thunder are closing in on the North Division title with a 39-20-7-4 record. At 89 points, the Thunder lead Brampton by three points for the division lead with two games to play. With just one win or a Brampton loss this weekend and the Thunder will clinch their first division title since joining the ECHL prior to last season.
Adirondack's offense ranks eighth in the ECHL at 3.62 goals per game. Captain Peter MacArthur leads the team with 63 points (24g, 39a) in 62 games, with 26 points coming on the power play. James Henry is second with 51 points (20g, 31a) and rookie Brian Ward is third with 45 points (26g, 19a).
In net, J.P. Anderson has appeared in each of the last 10 Thunder games, posting a 8-0-1-0 record in those games and he was named Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for his efforts. On the season he has appeared in 29 games and is 18-4-4 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He is 14-3-3 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.
The Thunder opened the week with a 1-for-2 effort on the power play Tuesday against Manchester and they rank fourth in the ECHL at 23.6% (68-for-288). Against the Jackals, the Thunder are 7-for-27 (25.9%) in eight games.
The Jackals have scored power-play goals in eight of the last nine games (10-for-34). At 41-for-236 the Jackals are 13th in the league with the power play at 17.4%. At home, they are eighth with a 21-8% power play.
Adirondack's penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 in Tuesday's win over the Monarchs, improving their overall penalty kill to 22nd in the ECHL at 80.2%. They've given up 49 power-play goals in 248 chances, although only four have come against the Jackals, stopping 84.0% of Elmira's power plays.
The Jackals penalty kill surrendered three power-play goals, albeit one into an empty net, in the two games in Manchester over the weekend. The Jackals are 21st in the ECHL at 80.4% on the kill.