First games are always a little tricky, not knowing exactly what type of team you might have.

By the time the Maine Mariners discovered their game Friday night, it was too late. The Adirondack Thunder thoroughly controlled the first two periods and held on to beat the Mariners 5-2 before a crowd of 3,247 in an ECHL season opener at Cross Insurance Arena.

Trailing  3-0 entering the third period, the Mariners got to within 3-2 on goals by Taylor Cammarata just 2:19 apart. But Felix Girard scored his second goal of the game with 3:37 remaining, and the Thunder added an empty-net goal.

“It obviously wasn’t our best,” said Mariners captain Zack Tolkinen. “The first 40 minutes, we weren’t a very good hockey team. People talk about how good we are, and we didn’t show that from the get-go.

“The one thing I liked was the last 20 minutes. That’s what we should look like.”

The Thunder beat the Mariners down low throughout the game. Except for the empty-net goal with 1:16 seconds remaining, every Adirondack goal was on a rebound. The Mariners, meanwhile, got no traffic in front of Thunder goalie Eamon McAdam (31 saves) until the third period.

“We started to work (in the third),” said Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong. “Hockey is a physical sport and we didn’t have any compete in our game. The goals that were scored on us, we got outworked in front of our net. That’s something we’ve got to work on in practice and get some more battle drills going, I guess.”

Mariners goalie Tom McCollum made 38 saves and, Armstrong said, “If it wasn’t for him, who knows what it could have been off the start? We came off so slow.”

The Thunder scored just 47 seconds into the game when Ara Nazarian lifted a rebound over McCollum. Antoine Waked took a shot from the right point that McCollum stopped through a screen. But the rebound rolled to the left circle, and Nazarian roofed it.

The Thunder made it 3-0 in the second with two power-play goals, by Shane Conacher just 33 seconds into a power play and by Girard 11 seconds into a power play.

Cammarata cut the lead to 3-2 with his back-to-back goals, also on rebounds.

“It’s a learning experience,” said Armstrong. “It’s a wake-up call for a lot of guys that the league isn’t easy. It’s a good league, and we have to come ready to play every night.”

NOTES: The Mariners are off until next Friday, when they play at Worcester. They don’t have another home game until Oct. 25, the first of back-to-back dates against Newfoundland. … This was the first of 18 games between the Mariners and Thunder. Ten will be in Glens Falls, New York. Adirondack won the season series last year, 6-4.  … Adirondack’s Shane Conacher suffered what appeared to be an injury to his right shoulder or arm and went to the locker room with 17:52 remaining in the third period.


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