The New Jersey Devils officially have an ECHL affiliate again. Earlier today, the Adirondack Thunder made the announcement that they have entered into an official affiliation with New Jersey and the Binghamton Devils after two seasons of having “an informal working arrangement” with the franchise.
The Devils had not had an official ECHL affiliate since the Trenton Titans folded a few years back. For the Thunder, this will be their second affiliation – they were owned and operated by the Calgary Flames from 2015 to 2017 according to their press release.
The Thunder play out of Glens Falls, New York and have been informally working with the New Jersey and Albany Devils since 2015.
According to the press release put out by the Thunder, Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood became the first Adirondack player to appear in a NHL game when he started for the Devils on March 20, 2016 against Columbus. Goalie Ken Appleby was the first “with multiple games played with Adirondack” to appear in the NHL – he dressed as the backup for the Devils on March 10, 2017 versus Colorado.
The Thunder began life in Stockton, California, but the Flames swapped them to Glens Falls when they moved their AHL affiliate (the Adirondack Flames) out west to become the Stockton Heat. The Thunder were then moved east to take the Flames’ place in Glens Falls.
The informal working agreement saw Brandon Baddock play in with Adirondack in addition to the two goaltenders and, according to the press release, saw seven Thunder players sign try out deals with Albany, which allowed those players to move up to the AHL level.
In addition to the affiliate agreement, Adirondack also announced Brad Tapper as their new head coach and director of hockey operations. The release on that says that he is the second coach in team history, after Cail MacLean “who accepted a position at a higher level last week.”
Tapper is 39 years-old and has been coaching for eight years according to his bio. He was an assistant in the AHL for the Rochester Americans and Chicago Wolves and the Orlando Solar Bears and Florida Everblades (with whom he was a part of a Kelly Cup championship) in the ECHL. He served as head coach of the North York Rangers of the CCHL.
Tapper, a Scarborough, Ontario native, played 71 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers from 2000 to 2003. He had a career high 14 points in 2002-03, including 10 goals.
He played in 132 AHL games in a career that took him to the Wolves, Binghamton Senators and Philadelphia Phantoms. He won the Calder Cup with Chicago in 2002. He also played in Germany and in the IHL with the Solar Bears (when the franchise was in that now-defunct league).
Tapper played college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and led RPI with 51 points during his junior year (1999-2000).
The Thunder also announced that they will retain Alex Loh “on the hockey operations staff.” He “will be promoted to Associate Coach” and will help Tapper run the team day-to-day. The press release also says that he will sign players, manage the salary cap and do video work in addition to his on-ice coaching duties.
Congratulations to both coaches for their appointments to the Adirondack coaching staff and good luck to the Thunder as they enter into their new agreement with the New Jersey Devils.