Another 3 in 3 weekend is in the books, and it’s not getting any easier for the Devils. They started out in playoff position, but 1 out of 6 points and three more losses later, they’re now on the outside looking in. Time to review:
3/16 at Binghamton: 4-2 L
The weekend began in a city that the Devils had yet to taste victory in all season, Binghamton. At first it looked like fortunes were about to change as both Jeff Frazee and former teammate Mike McKenna held both sides scoreless during the first period, with the Senators outshooting its guests 10-8. Second period Binghamton got on the board early thanks to a Andre Petersson goal. But the Devils would mount a late rally to take the lead thanks to goals by Tim Sestito (on the power play) and Eric Gelinas. But the Senators quickly tied it back up at 2 to start the 3rd period, and with that the momentum shifted. Petersson added his second goal of the night 4 and a half minutes later to give Binghamton the lead, then David Dziurzynski added an insurance marker with about 5 minutes left in the game to extend the Devils winless streak to 6 games. Despite the loss, Frazee had an okay night in net, stopping 32 of 36 shots (including a beautiful stop on a shorthanded breakaway, with a little help from the post), while Peter Harrold contributed two assists.
3/17 at Hershey: 3-2 L (SO)
The road trip continued south on Interstate 81 for a St. Patrick’s Day matchup against Hershey, a team the Devils hadn’t seen since mid November. Albany killed off a very early power play chance and seemed to be holding their own against the Bears, then Tomas Kundratek scored midway through for a 1-0 Bear lead. The Devils rallied in the second period and took the lead thanks to goals by Matt Anderson and Brad Mills (Mills’s goal was a shorthanded tally, the 6th of the season for the Devils). During the third, the game was looking good for Albany as Keith Kinkaid made the lead stand up, and as time ticked down it looked as if the losing streak was going to end. But thanks to a delayed penalty call by referee Terry Koharski (there’s that last name again…ugh), and not calling a play dead, Kundratek was able to tie things up at 2 with just 4 minutes left in regulation. The Devils did have a late power play chance but could not capitalize, and the game went to overtime. Mills had a very good chance to win the game during the extra session, but couldn’t get it past Bears goalie Dany Sabourin. It was on the shootout, where only Mattias Tedenby was able to score. Kinkaid gave up back to back goals to Cody Eakin and Boyd Kane to seal the extra point for Hershey. It was only the Devils third standings point in the last seven games. Despite that, the team played a much improved game, killing all 4 Bears power play chances (not bad against a team with the #1 overall power play), and Kinkaid was outstanding in a hard luck loss, stopping 37 of 39 shots and taking #2 star of the game honors.
3/18 vs. Hershey: 4-1 L
About 18 hours (and a long bus ride for both) later, the second half of the home and home series with Hershey. Other than a heavyweight bout between former River Rat Joel Rechlicz and Myles Stoesz, not much action during the first half of the first period. Then Patrick McNeill got the visitors on the board with a shot past Jeff Frazee for a 1-0 advantage. Maxime Lacroix would pad the lead to 2 just under 5 minutes later. Just over a minute later, Vladimir Zharkov scored unassisted to cut the lead to 2-1. Sadly, the Devils would not get any closer than that. Boyd Kane would score twice, on a power play very late in the second and an empty netter to seal it in the third period. Not a lot went on, unless you count the several missed calls both referees had on Hershey (mostly). Frazee did stop 19 of 22 shots in a losing cause, the 8th straight loss of any kind for Albany.
-Conference standings: With the latest defeat, Albany fell into an 11th place tie with Portland with 65 points each. They are only two points behind the 8th place slot, currently occupied by Worcester. They are two points ahead of both Adirondack and Providence and 10 points ahead of last place Binghamton. The 7th through 14th place teams are all separated by just 6 points, so it’s still really anyone’s playoff spots for the taking.
-Add a few names to the walking wounded this week. Mike Sislo was the latest casualty, sitting out the weekend. Dan Kelly and Nathan Perkovich both sat out the last two games, while Darcy Zajac was out for today’s contest. Jay Leach, Chad Wiseman, Alexander Urbom, and Mike Banwell all remain sidelined.
-No new transactions to report, but I’m thinking we may start seeing a few amateur tryouts on their way. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood officially signed an entry level deal on Friday, so it would not surprise me if he did come here in some capacity. Another player I heard may be close to arriving is defenseman Corbin McPherson, a 2007 3rd rounder who just completed his collegiate career at Colgate. Both Michigan and Union are playing in the NCAAs, so it may be awhile before prospects from those teams (David Wohlberg, Kelly Zajac) arrive on the scene.
If the Devils thought last weekend was hard opponent-wise, well…they better be ready for this week. Wednesday night they host Worcester, a team they have had trouble with during the first two meetings this season (the Sharks have outscored the Devils 11-2). Then Friday and Saturday they travel south to Norfolk to take on the Admirals. Good news: Albany has taken 4 out of 5 meetings between the two teams. Bad news: The Admirals are currently on a record smashing 18 game winning streak. But the boys will have a little help on their side…myself and 42 Booster Club members will be making the trip down there to support them, whether the streak is broken up or if it gets to 19 or 20. But one thing is for sure…they need to get back on the winning track soon, or it’ll be another early offseason around these parts.