By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Adirondack Thunder training camp opened on Monday, the pre-season home game is this Friday, Oct. 14, and the ECHL hockey team’s season home opener is Saturday, Oct. 29, vs. Worcester. It’s all at the Cool Insuring Arena.
“We are very optimistic for a winning season,” Thunder president Jeff Mead told The Chronicle. “It’s a new era of Thunder hockey, led by head coach Pete MacArthur. We’ve got a new assistant coach Mike Bergin, new athletic trainer Jasmine Honey and new communications director Rob Lippolis. We knew we needed to go in a different direction after last year. The community and fan base are pretty excited.”
Last year’s Thunder finished last in the conference, with a 27-40 record.
“Pete has a different approach,” Mr. Mead said. “The type of players he signed, they’re a lot more physical, a little more aggressive style. You’ll probably see a few more fights than in the last couple years. They’ll attack a little more. It’s a very hard-working team. Expect to see more wins.”
One challenge cited last year was players call-ups to affiliate AHL teams the New Jersey Devils and Utica Comets, breaking the low on Thunder ice.
“Every team has that issue,” Mr. Mead says. “At this level of play, the roster will be porous. There are times when the team you have on the ice is a shell of what you expected when you started the season.
“You have to learn to weather the storm. If you can go 5-5 instead of 2-8 (wins/losses) in a 10-game stretch, you can recover. We struggled to do that last year.”
Harper, Turcotte, Weller, more
Returning players include forward Shane Harper. “He was a top player last year, but he missed the first eight weeks with a jaw injury,” Mr. Mead said.
Forward Shawn Weller is a South Glens Falls native back for his first full season.
Forward Yannick Turcotte, “fans will recognize” as a previous foe. “Now that he’s Thunder not Worcester, the fans will love him.”
“Patrick Grasso scored 20 goals last year.” New defenseman Jeff Taylor: “Fans will get to recognize him quickly,” Mr. Mead predicts.
Coach MacArthur is “from Clifton Park; he was captain on the ice last year. He’s been on and off with the team since 2015. We consider him a local person. We’re excited to have him lead the team….”
“The team is a little younger than last year, but right in the middle for ages of players in the ECHL,” Mr. Mead said.
“Harper and Weller are the veterans. It’s a good mix of veteran leadership guys with young guys who bring a lot of skills and toughness. It’s going to be a difficult team to play against.”
The 25 players and four goalies at the first day of training is expected to narrow to 23 including goalies before the regular season begins — on the road — Oct. 22.
‘Closer to fans again’
“It’s post-Covid,” Mr. Mead says. “We will have a lot more fan-player interaction that we were unable to do last year. Kids high-fiving the players when they come onto the ice, kids on the bench during warmups, post-game skates and autograph sessions.”
A boat cruise for fans and players, October 18 on the Lac du Saint Sacrement, is already sold out, Mr. Mead notes.
Season tix goal: 1,400
Season ticket sales were at 1,200 full or full-season equivalents as of Monday. That already matches last year’s final tally, Mr. Mead said. “Our goal is 1,400.”
Corporate sponsorship is “trending upwards. We are in the top 10 of the 27 ECHL teams for sponsorships, in the smallest market in the ECHL,” he said.
New box suites: Mostly sold
Five of the six new premium box suites are sold, Mr. Mead said. The sixth, largest suite they’ve held out for single-event sale. It’s already taken for both opening weekend hockey games, and for the Trey Anastasio concert on November 13.
Price: $1,000 per event, includes 20 admission tickets, parking, dedicated server and upgraded food/beverage menu.
Cost for the corporate suites ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on size and hockey vs. full season.
“Long term it will be a boost,” Mr. Mead said. “For the first couple of years, the rentals will help pay off the expense to build them.” He expects, “they will not be empty for any event all season.”
Opening games, tix info
Pre-season home game at Cool Insuring Arena, Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. versus the Reading Royals. Tix: $10, free for season ticket holders.
Home opener, Saturday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m. versus Worcester Railers. Youth jersey giveaway to the first 1,000 fans.
Single game tix: $22, $16 youth.
Season tickets: $576, $414 youth, flex packs & half-season options available.
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