Professional hockey will remain in Glens Falls under a new parent team and head coach.
For the past three seasons, the hockey team inside the Glens Falls Civic Center — recently christened the Cool Insuring Arena – has been under the umbrella of the NHL Calgary Flames.
First the AHL Adirondack Flames and then the ECHL Adirondack Thunder, the teams played for a parent organization thousands of miles away.
Things will be a little different this season.
Earlier this year, the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition – the organization that operates the arena – bought the Thunder.
And on Tuesday, hockey fans found out that their hometown team would be affiliated with a parent NHL team a bit closer to home.
Thunder team governor Ed Moore made the announcement.
“Without further ado, the New Jersey Devils will be our new affiliate,” said Moore to applause.
Now committed to the next year in Glens Falls, New Jersey was also the parent organization to the AHL Albany Devils, which moved to Binghamton at the end of the playoffs in the spring.
The Devils organization is no stranger to the Thunder, as the two had an “informal agreement” over the past two seasons, with several players skating for both teams.
Scott Clemmensen, a former goaltending coach for the Albany Devils who played for the New Jersey Devils and the defunct Albany River Rats years before, said the Devils believe strongly in player development.
“And Adirondack is going to play a big, important step for each of these players and be a first step in their development,” said Clemmensen. “We’re confident in the Adirondack staff here and we’re confident in the community in that they well take part in helping our players development both on and off the ice.”
Clemmensen said while “no two players have the same path to the NHL,” many players will start their professional hockey careers in Glens Falls.
But no player can develop without a head coach.
Bringing eight years of coaching experience at the AHL, ECHL, and junior levels, 39-year-old Brad Tapper has been named head coach and Director of Hockey Operations.
Tapper, who has played in the AHL and NHL levels, is coming back to the Capital Region, this time with his wife and three young children in tow, after spending three seasons on the RPI Engineers. In 1999-2000, Tapper scored a team-leading 51 points.
Tapper, who hopes to stress an offense-heavy strategy, also wants to continue work to bring the Thunder into the community.
“There’s nothing like a hockey player coming in with their jersey on, with the Thunder emblem on the front and their name on the back, and being associated with a little kid in a classroom – to be associated with him – and have a hero out on the ice,” said Tapper. “So, I’m telling you right now, it will be a very close relationship. If you see me out, come on over and say hello. I’m very approachable, I’m easygoing, but I demand a lot on the ice.”
Former head coach Cail MacLean is staying with the Calgary organization and is moving to the AHL Stockton Heat in California.
The Thunder is retaining Alex Loh on the hockey operations staff. He is being promoted to Associate Coach.
Season tickets are on sale now, with more than 900 passes sold. The Thunder will hit the ice again in October.