The 2017 CCM / ECHL All-Star Classic presented by I LOVE NY marks the fourth consecutive All-Star Game, and the fifth overall in the league history, where the host team will take on a team of ECHL All-Stars.
When the Adirondack Thunder take the ice at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Wednesday, they will be looking to break a three-game losing streak for the host team.
The ECHL All-Stars posted a 9-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors in 2011, a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Eagles in 2013 and an 8-4 win against the Orlando Solar Bears in 2015. Only the Charlotte Checkers, who were the defending Riley Cup champions at the time, have come out on top against the All-Star squad, skating away with a 7-6 win in 1997.
“We haven’t talked a whole lot about the game, but it is certainly an exciting event to be a part of and you can sense the anticipating building up,” Thunder captain Peter MacArthur said. “We still have some important regular-season games in the next couple weeks, but we will be ready to go for the All-Star Game.”
Thunder Head Coach Cail MacLean has a unique perspective on All-Star Games having participated in previous ECHL All-Star Games as both a player (1999 and 2001) and a coach (2010).
“Coaching is a little more relaxed than playing in an All-Star Game,” he said. “I hope to facilitate the players being prepared and going out to represent themselves and the team in a positive manner.”
However, the format of the game itself, with the Thunder taking on the top talent from across the league, lends to maybe being a little less relaxed than usual.
“The fun will evaporate quickly I’m sure,” MacLean said. “It will be a good test for us to go up against the best players the league has to offer. There’s a lot of talent across the ECHL and we are looking forward to the challenge and experiencing something entirely different.”
While the Thunder still have regular-season games at hand, MacLean will try to mix in some aspects of the game’s non-traditional format in practice over the next week.
“We may mix in a little 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 in practice, and work on some of the individual skills that will take place between halves, but our main focus right now is what we need to work on. When it comes time for the All-Star Game, we’ll let them have some fun and maybe work in some of our younger guys into some situations they don’t get to experience during regular games. We want to showcase our younger players for the scouts who will be in attendance,” MacLean said.
The All-Star Game holds some extra importance for MacArthur, who grew up in Clifton Park, N.Y., just 40 minutes from Glens Falls, and attended many games at the Glens Falls Civic Center as a youngster.
“It will be an extra special experience for me I think since I grew up in the area, and all of my family is here,” he said. “Our fans have been dedicated and are extremely supportive of us so this is a well-deserved event for them and I hope they all come out to experience everything an All-Star Game has to offer.
“Last year, the fan support grew and grew as the season went on,” MacArthur continued. “The fans here are a passionate group and we appreciate everything they bring to the arena on a nightly basis.”
“I’m really proud of what we have built here over the last two years,” MacLean said. “We are hoping for a great crowd and to put on a good show for them. The fans here deserve it.”