Week 26 Recap: Not Going Away Quietly

A four out of six point week to start the month of April and the proverbial homestretch of the 2014-15 season.  But are these points going to be too little, too late?

4/1 vs. Manchester: 2-1 L

The April slate began on Wednesday with the final ever visit by the league leading Monarchs, fresh off clinching the first Calder Cup playoff spot the weekend before.  Even without the services of a few key players, the Devils held their own during the first…and got a gift goal towards the end of the period.  On a power play, Manchester goaltender J.F. Berube attempted the clear the puck, only to have rookie Matt Lorito steal it and score his second as a professional for a 1-0 Devil lead.  The Monarchs would take over in the second, outshooting the hosts 18-6 and tying the game up on a Nick Ebert tally.  Third period was literally all Monarchs, as it took Albany nearly 16 minutes to register a shot on goal.  Manchester would take the lead shorthanded on a Michael Mersch goal early in the period.  Albany could only manage 3 shots in the final period, all within the last 3:23, and lost ground to the Sharks and Falcons in the playoff chase.  Scott Clemmensen played well in taking the loss, stopping 27 of 29 shots.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Tim Sestito-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Max Novak

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Thursday: Stick taps go to defenseman Dan Kelly, who was named the Albany recipient of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award, given for “outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations.”  He is one of 30 players nominated for the league wide award, to be presented at a later date.

4/3 at Springfield: 1-0 W (SO)

In a scenario that affected not just the two teams involved, the Devils headed east for one last matchup against the Falcons, who were just barely on the outside looking in.  Much like the last time the two teams squared off, it became a scoreless duel between the goalies, as Scott Wedgewood and Scott Munroe were not allowing anything to get past them.  The only action at all during regulation?  A fight between Cam Janssen and Josh Anderson.  After a combined four play chances–3 for Albany, 1 for Springfield–didn’t produce anything, it was on to overtime.  Springfield had a huge opportunity to end the game on a 4 on 3 when Mike Sislo would get called for a hook with 2:16 to go, but the Devils would manage to kill it off and go to the shootout, where Springfield had a 5-0 record going into the night.  After Paul Thompson and Sislo were stopped, Wedgewood stopped T.J. Tynan and Sean Collins.  Then finally in round 3, it was the rookie again to the rescue…Matt Lorito would finally break the scoreless deadlock.  Wedgewood would stop Michael Chaput and earn his second shutout of the season, stopping all 32 shots in the first 65 minutes then 3 more in the bonus round.  The game also marked the pro debut for Max Novak, who managed 2 shots on goal while playing on the third line.  The Devils second shootout win of the season had an effect on the Eastern Conference playoff picture, as it enabled Syracuse to be the third East team to get an X next to their name, even after melting down in a 6-4 loss to the Wolfpack.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Max Novak-Rod Pelley-Ben Johnson

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, Tim Sestito, David Wohlberg

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Mike Keenan

Extra: Joe Faust, Corbin McPherson

4/4 vs. Binghamton: 4-1 W

It was back to home ice to wrap up the week, as the Devils played host to the Senators on what has become an annual event, Military Appreciation Day.  Everyone was thinking a physical beginning was coming, when both Cam Janssen and Binghamton’s Darren Kramer (who leads the league in penalty minutes with 240) were lined up next to each other…and were seen talking…prior to puck drop.  But no Devils-Rangers triple feature type activities went down, and the game went on as normal.  Binghamton would grab a 1-0 lead with under 6 minutes to go in the first thanks to former Devil Brad Mills.  But Albany…well, really the top line…would take over in the second period and not look back.  Paul Thompson would reach the 30 goal mark with a power play goal midway through the second period to tie it up, then follow it up with an encore power play tally just 2:25 later for a 2-1 lead.  He would then complete the hat trick, his second in the last 8 days, with 5 minutes to go in regulation for a 2 goal cushion.  The goal also tied him with Chris Minard for the Lowell/Albany season record, set in 2006-07. Linemate Scott Timmins would put the cherry on top late with an empty netter to seal Albany’s second straight win and keep pace in the playoff race.  Scott Clemmensen had another strong day in net, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  Matt Lorito, who stepped into Joe Whitney’s spot on the top line after he was injured in Norfolk, had a career day assisting all 3 Thompson goals, while Timmins and Mike Sislo added helpers.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Mike Sislo-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Max Novak-Rod Pelley-Ben Johnson

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Tim Sestito

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Conference Standings:

Where everyone stands after Saturday’s action:

8. Portland–81 points

9. Springfield–81

10. Albany–77

11. St. John’s–70 (eliminated)

The magic number to clinch is at 19, while the tragic number remains 9.  So yes, I’m saying there’s still a chance.

Pop Quiz: On Saturday, Paul Thompson reached the 30 goal mark (and then 31 and 32).  Who is the last Albany player to reach the 30 goal plateau for a season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

So not much was going on Wednesday evening…then Cam and Josh Gratton happened.  Or as I call it, fights from 2005.

My Player of the Week:

This one was a very easy choice…have to give it to Matt Lorito.  He gets to play on the top line, and ends up producing…1 goal, 3 assists, and the shootout winner on Friday.  Not bad for someone who a month ago was still playing for Brown.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (32)

Assists: Joe Whitney (29)

Points: Paul Thompson (61)

+/-: Paul Thompson/Graham Black (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (130)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (12)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.37)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.914)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 41 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -22, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 52 GP, 9 G, 12 A, 21 Pts, +8, 20 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 14 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -1, 26 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 20 GP, 9-6-2-2, 3.01 GAA, .900 Save Pct.

Injury Update:

Joe Whitney and David Wohlberg missed the weekend due to injuries sustained on the Norfolk trip, no time table given for return.  Tim Sestito missed both Friday and Saturday, no reason given.

This Week’s Schedule:

One last 3 in 3 weekend looms, and it’s all away from the Capital Region.  Friday the Devils head west to Binghamton for a rematch with the Senators.  Saturday it’s due east to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack, then on Sunday the final visit for what could be awhile to Worcester to take on the Sharks.  Also this week, the annual STH party on Tuesday, including team awards.  I should have that annual post up by Wednesday.

Pop Quiz Answer:

Prior to Paul Thompson on Saturday, the last Albany player to reach 30 goals in a season was Jerome Samson, who potted 37 for the 2009-10 River Rats.

 

 

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Week 26 Photo Gallery

Scott Clemmensen

Scott Clemmensen

Ben Thomson

Ben Thomson

Raman Hrabarenka

Raman Hrabarenka

Mike Sislo

Mike Sislo

Joe Faust

Joe Faust

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson

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Week 26 Primer

Devils Quick Hits:

-Albany kicks off the month of April with a 31-25-5-6 record and 73 points.  They stand in 4th place in the Northeast Division (3 points behind 3rd place Springfield) and 10th in the Eastern Conference, 3 points behind Springfield for 9th & 7 points behind Portland for 8th.

-After appearing in Saturday’s win over Norfolk, Alexandre Carrier was reassigned to Orlando on Sunday.

-On Monday, Ben Johnson was recalled from Orlando after appearing in 12 games for the Solar Bears.  He scored twice and added six assists during his stay.

4/1, Game #68 vs. Manchester

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Manchester leads 1-0.

Standings:

Manchester: 43-16-6-2, 94 points, 1st place in Atlantic Division, 1st place in Eastern Conference

Monarchs Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Brian O’Neill, 71 points (22 G, 49 A); Jordan Weal, 62 points (18 G, 44 A); Colin Miller, 46 points (17 G, 29 A)

Jean-Francois Berube, 32-9-4, 2.19 GAA; Patrik Bartosak, 11-7-4, 2.14 GAA

Notes:

-Manchester, who leads the overall AHL standings by 3 points over Hershey, were the first team to punch their ticket to the Calder Cup playoffs when they clinched on Saturday.

-The Monarchs boast the top two scorers in the league in O’Neill and Weal, while both goaltenders (Bartosak and Berube) are in the top 10 for goals against average.

-This will be the last ever matchup between Manchester and Albany, as both Kings affiliates are switching leagues: the AHL version will be in the new Pacific Division as the Ontario Reign, while Manchester will be joining the ECHL.

Listen: AHL Live, manchestermonarchs.com

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @MonarchsHockey

4/3, Game #69 at Springfield

Where: Mass Mutual Center, Springfield, MA.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Springfield leads 4-3.

Standings:

Springfield: 34-27-8-0, 76 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division, 9th in Eastern Conference

Falcons Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

T.J. Tynan, 41 points (10 G, 31 A); Luke Adam, 40 points (15 G, 25 A); Austin Madaisky, 35 points (12 G, 23 A)

Anton Forsberg, 20-8-1, 2.01 GAA; Scott Munroe, 7-10-2, 2.59 GAA; Joonas Korpisalo, 0-25-0, 3.52 GAA

Notes:

-The Falcons are struggling to stay in the final playoff spot in the East, falling to 9th after a recent 0-3-1-0 skid.

-Springfield has seen six rookies make their professional debuts, including 2014 first rounder Sonny Milano and Finnish goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.

-After a 11 AM start in Bridgeport on Wednesday, Springfield returns home for a crucial two game homestand with Albany and 8th place Portland.

Listen: AHL Live, WHYN 560 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheFalconsAHL, @KatyLovesHockey

4/4, Game #70 vs. Binghamton

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series: Tied at 1.

Standings:

Binghamton: 28-31-7-1, 64 points, 4th place in East Division, 13th in Eastern Conference

Senators Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Shane Prince, 54 points (23 G, 31 A); Chris Wideman, 51 points (16 G, 35 A); Cole Schneider, 47 points (23 G, 24 A)

Peter Mannino, 6-10-4, 3.84 GAA; Scott Greenham, 13-9-2, 2.63 GAA; Chris Driedger, 2-0-0, 3.00 GAA

Notes:

-Binghamton appears to be the next Eastern Conference team to be mathematically out of the running for a playoff spot, starting the week with a tragic number of 3.

-The Senators are riding a three game losing streak into this week’s schedule…they travel to Syracuse on Wednesday before hosting the Phantoms on Friday evening.

-Goaltender Peter Mannino, who did not even begin the year in the Southern Tier, has taken over the starting duties with Andrew Hammond being recalled to Ottawa in late January, going 5-7-2 in 14 starts.

Listen: AHL Live, US 96.9 FM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @BSens_Hockey

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Week 25 Recap: A Sweep, But At A Price

It was a quick two game road trip for the Devils to close out the month of March…okay, so 10 hours to Virginia isn’t exactly quick.  But it was a successful trip on the scoresheet, as Albany swept both games and stayed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.  But it may have taken the loss of three forwards to injury to do so.

3/27 at Norfolk: 4-3 W (OT)

Round 1 came Friday night, and featured a rematch of last Saturday’s 4-3 win in the Capital Region in net, Scott Wedgewood vs. Jason Labarbera.  Joe Whitney would get things started on the right foot…er, skate…with his 19th goal 4 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.  Former Devil Dave Steckel, now Norfolk’s captain, would tie things up with his 5th later in the period.  The special teams play would continue its resurgence as of late, with another power play goal, this one off the stick of Raman Hrabarenka, as the second period was coming to an end, literally (the clock read .2 seconds).  Scott Timmins would give the Devils an insurance goal with just under 8 minutes remaining for a 3-1 lead…or so we thought.  Norfolk was not about to go away quietly, however…Max Friberg would cut the lead to 1 with under 4 minutes to go in regulation.  Then with Labarbera pulled and a successful 6 on 4 penalty kill, Kevin Gagne managed to get the puck past Clemmensen with 1.8 seconds left to force overtime.  Albany would get a test with Whitney off for a hooking call just as the 3 on 3 portion was set to begin.  Not only did the Devils manage to kill it…Rod Pelley would pass the puck to Whitney as he was exiting the box, he broke away and scored the game winner with 21 seconds remaining in the extra frame to give Albany their third straight win.  Wedgewood would pick up his 11th win with 29 saves.  Whitney, Timmins, Pelley, and Seth Helgeson all contributed assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Darcy Zajac-Graham Black-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Max Novak, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Raman Hrabarenka/Mike Keenan

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

3/28 at Norfolk: 3-1 W

A couple of lineup changes for the rematch on Saturday, as Scott Clemmensen drew the start in net and Alexandre Carrier took Graham Black’s place on the fourth line due to an apparent injury to the rookie.  Things got off to a very chippy start as a hit on David Wohlberg would set the tone.  After Ben Thomson stepped in and fought John Kurtz (who delivered the hit), Paul Thompson would score on the ensuing power play (only interference was called on Kurtz; Wohlberg would not return to the game) for a 1-0 Devil lead.  As the second period was getting underway, Dan Kelly would put a clean hit on Stefan Noesen…and had to answer to Mike Sgarbossa with a bout of his own.  The power play came through yet again a short time later, as Thompson would score his second with the man advantage for a 2-0 lead.  Louis Leblanc would break up Clemmensen’s shutout bid and cut the lead in half a short time later.  Then another hit, this time on Joe Whitney, courtesy of Josh Manson would leave the Devils without two more forwards: Whitney would leave the game favoring a leg, while Rod Pelley had to sit out most of the rest of the contest after fighting Manson.  Two more near fight incidents involving Raman Hrabarenka and Tim Sestito would break out, but peace was finally restored for the third period.  And Thompson would come through again, completing the hat trick (his second of the season) with 2:30 to go and finishing off a perfect road trip for the Devils.  Clemmensen stopped 37 of 38 shots and picked up his 8th win.  Mike Sislo would add two assists, while Whitney and Hrabarenka each had a helper.  Matt Lorito would get his second pro point, assisting on Thompson’s third goal.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Alexandre Carrier

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, Max Novak

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Mike Keenan

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Conference Standings:

As of Sunday morning, here’s how the East stands:

8. Worcester–78 points

9. Springfield–76

10. Albany–73

11. St. John’s–70

12. Lehigh Valley–67

The magic number to clinch a playoff spot stands at 25.  Elimination number stands at 14.  With 9 games left, this is going to go right to the end.

Pop Quiz: With the final game in Norfolk on Saturday…what is Albany’s all time record in Virginia?  The answer is upcoming.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well…all three fights from Saturday are in the second highlight package.  So let’s go into the vault.  From December 2010, back when Darcy Zajac was just an ECHL callup wearing #24…

My Player of the Week:

Or, line of the week.  The top line of Joe Whitney (4 points before injury), Paul Thompson (hat trick) and Scott Timmins (2 points) came through once again.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (29)

Assists: Joe Whitney (29)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (49)

+/-: Graham Black (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (130)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (11)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.45)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.911)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 41 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -22, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 48 GP, 8 G, 12 A, 20 Pts, +7, 20 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 11 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 Pts, +9, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 19 GP, 9-6-14, 3.01 GAA, .899 Save Pct.

Injury Update: We’ll have to wait and see on the statuses of Graham Black, David Wohlberg, and Joe Whitney after all 3 were injured in Norfolk.  Reece Scarlett missed the weekend due to illness.  Cam Janssen will be eligible to return Wednesday after serving his two game suspension.

This Week’s Schedule:

We have made it to April.  The homestretch begins on Wednesday night at home against Manchester, who became the first AHL team to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday.  Friday Albany travels east to Springfield for the final matchup of the season against the Falcons.  Then Saturday Binghamton comes to visit, and it’s also the annual Military Appreciation Day at the arena.

Pop Quiz Answer: Since Norfolk entered the American Hockey League for the 2000-01 season, the River Rats and Devils have an all time record of 16-19-3-4 and one tie.  It took 9 tries for Albany to finally get a win at the Scope, on April 8, 2005, a 4-1 River Rat win.

Note: No photo gallery this week.

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Week 25 Primer

Devils Quick Hits:

-Albany begins the week with a 29-25-5-6 mark, good for 69 points and 4th place in the Northeast Division, 6 points behind third place Springfield.  That is also the same number of points they sit behind the Falcons for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.  They are 5 points behind 9th place Worcester and tied with 11th place St. John’s for points.

-For the second time this season, Albany is hitting the road minus Cam Janssen.  On Tuesday, he was given a 2 game suspension by the AHL for a “interference incident” in Sunday’s game against Hartford (guessing by process of elimination it happened here).

-Kelly Zajac has officially been shut down for the season due to a nagging lower body injury.

-With two forwards out and Reece Scarlett recovering from the flu, Alexandre Carrier and Mike Keenan have been recalled from Orlando.

3/27 & 3/28, Games #66 & #67 at Norfolk

Where: Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, VA.

When: 7:30 PM 3/27, 7:15 PM 3/28.

Season Series: Tied at 1.

Standings:

Norfolk: 23-35-5-3, 54 points, 5th place in East Division, 15th in Eastern Conference

Admirals Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 players tied with 29 points

Jason LaBarbera, 8-15-6, 2.52 GAA; Ryan Faragher, 1-6-0, 3.19 GAA

Notes:

-Norfolk finished a 1-6 road swing (the only win being the 1-0 victory in Albany on Wednesday) and comes home for a six game homestand, starting with a loss to the Checkers on Wednesday.  They will only have one more home game as an AHL team, on April 17th against Lehigh Valley before finishing the year in Wilkes-Barre on the 18th.

-With a 3-2 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, the Admirals are officially eliminated from Calder Cup contention, the first Eastern team to be out and the second in the league (Iowa was officially eliminated over the weekend).

-Norfolk will be without its lone All Star and one of its leading scorers Chris Wagner, who was recalled to Anaheim on Sunday.

Listen: AHL Live, WHKT 1650 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates, @BeneathTheScope

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Week 24 Photo Gallery

Reece Scarlett

Reece Scarlett

Joe Whitney

Joe Whitney

Ben Thomson

Ben Thomson

Graham Black

Graham Black

Scott Timmins

Scott Timmins

Cam Janssen

Cam Janssen

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Week 24 Recap: Climbing the Ladder

Don’t count the Devils out just yet.  After a slow start to the week, the team has got their offensive touch back, taking two out of three wins on the week and staying in the race for the final playoff spot.

3/18 vs. Norfolk: 1-0 L

Game #4 of the homestand came Wednesday, as Albany hosted the Admirals for the first time all season.  And much like Sunday, it was another struggle on both sides to get a goal.  The Devils did outshoot Norfolk 14-7 in the first, but couldn’t get anything into the net.  Second period was more of the same defensive struggle, with the only action being two fights breaking out within 1:24 of each other.  But with 3:06 to go in the period, Norfolk struck first, or did they?  About 3 Ads were surrounding Scott Clemmensen’s net, and one of them was able to bat the puck in behind him.  It looked like goaltender interference, so the referees went to the video…and it was called a good goal (of course they did).  Stefan Noesen was given credit for the tally.  Albany had a golden opportunity to tie things up with a late period/early third period 5 on 3 opportunity, but could not get the job done.  Two more power play opportunities and an empty net situation followed, but still no offense.  And the Devils were shutout for a second straight game, extending the scoreless drought to 125 minutes and 3 seconds.  Clemmensen played outstanding in the loss, stopping 25 of 26 shots.

Highlights:

Lines:

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Darcy Zajac

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Matt Lorito

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

Friday: The second ATO of the season has arrived–and the Devils didn’t have to go very far to find him.  Union College forward Max Novak, a native of New Jersey, becomes the third UC alum to suit up for the Devils (Keith Kinkaid and Kelly Zajac the other two).  In 35 games this season, he notched 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and had a +3 rating.  His most memorable goal came last season, as he scored the game winner in Union’s 7-4 national championship win over Minnesota in Philadelphia.  For his four year career, he has a total of 96 points (43 goals, 53 assists) in 141 games.

Saturday: With Mike Cammalleri out due to the flu and Patrik Elias suffering from back spasms, both Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau were recalled under emergency conditions to New Jersey…only to both be scratched for the Devils 3-0 shutout loss to the Islanders.  They were both returned to Albany then recalled under regular conditions.

3/21 vs. Norfolk: 4-3 W

After Norfolk made a quick journey west to Binghamton on Friday (and lost 4-3 to the Senators), it was back to the Capital Region on Saturday for the rematch.  And finally, the Devils sleeping offense came to life.  Brandon Burlon finally broke Albany’s long scoreless drought early in the first period with his sixth goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.  It was the first goal for Albany in a span of 127 minutes and 40 seconds.  But Chris Wagner would tie it up midway through the period with a power play goal.  Then the Devils were forced to play shorthanded yet again as Dan Kelly took a 5 minute major and game misconduct for boarding Norfolk’s Mike Sgarbossa…but Wagner was called for roughing (and also fighting Kelly) on the same incident, creating a 4 on 3/4 on 4/Norfolk major power play situation.  And they would capitalize on that, taking a 2-1 lead on a Jaycob Megna goal.  The Devils would kill off the rest and mount a rally in the second period.  Raman Hrabarenka (6th) and Chris McKelvie (3rd) would score 3:04 apart midway through for a 3-2 Devil lead.  But John Kurtz would re-tie the game up just before the second ended.  The game remained deadlocked late…until another long drought was broken.  Matt Lorito, finally making his pro debut, scored on a power play with 5:21 remaining in regulation to put the Devils ahead 4-3.  It was their first power play goal since March 1st, snapping an 0-for-27 drought.  Albany survived an extra attacker late and held on for the win, breaking a 3 game winless skid and jumping from 12th to 10th in the Eastern Conference standings.  Scott Wedgewood picked up win #10, stopping 24 of 27 shots.  It was a balanced offensive attack for the Devils on this day: Burlon and Graham Black added two assists, while McKelvie, Hrabarenka, Seth Helgeson, and Rod Pelley each had helpers.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Cam Janssen

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Ben Thomson, Max Novak

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Extra: Joe Faust

Sunday: As a result of his major/game misconduct penalty on Saturday, Dan Kelly was given a one game suspension and had to sit out Sunday’s home game against Hartford.

3/22 vs. Hartford: 5-3 W

The long homestand finally came to an end on Sunday afternoon, as the Devils played host to the Wolfpack.  After a physical start, the visitors got on the board late in the first on a very lucky bounce off the stick of Joey Crabb for a 1-0 lead.  Carl Klingberg would double the lead late in the second period, and the way things were going for Albany it looked like another blow to their fading playoff hopes.  But then the third period happened.  Paul Thompson would get Albany on the board just 1:02 in with a power play tally (yes another one!), then exactly one minute later Mike Sislo would tie it up.  On another power play opportunity later, Scott Timmins would put the Devils ahead with his 8th goal.  Just 1:04 later, Raman Hrabarenka would add another power play goal for a 4-2 lead.  Oscar Lindberg would make things interesting late with a goal to put Hartford within one, but Tim Sestito would finish it off with an empty netter.  Lost in the comeback and tying a franchise record with 5 goals in a period was another good outing from Scott Clemmensen, who only needed to stop 15 of 18 shots to pick up the win.  10 Devil skaters had at least one point, with Sislo’s one goal/two assist performance leading the way.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Cam Janssen

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Darcy Zajac, Max Novak

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Joe Faust

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Dan Kelly

Conference Standings:

After Sunday’s action, here’s where everything stands in the East:

8. Springfield–75 points

9. Worcester–74

10. Albany–69

11. St. John’s–69

12. Lehigh Valley–65

13. Binghamton–64

The magic number to clinch stands at 32, while the tragic number is 17.

Pop Quiz: It’s a 2 part question this week.  Who holds the Albany AHL record for the best plus/minus rating for one season? And who has the worst?  Both answers are coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Two for the price of one this week, because finally there’s video proof!  First up, Dan Kelly from Wednesday evening’s festivities:

Not long after that, it was Chris McKelvie’s turn in the ring, so to speak.

My Player of the Week:

The last two days have given quite a few candidates to choose from, so this week it’s being split.  Good to see Chris McKelvie break out with a goal and two assists, and both Brandon Burlon and Raman Hrabarenka had good offensive showings from the blue line.  Honorable mention to Matt Lorito for producing the game winner in his pro debut, hopefully the first of many goals to come.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (26)

Assists: Joe Whitney (27)

Points: Paul Thompson (46)

+/-: Graham Black (+11)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (123)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (10)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.53)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.906)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 41 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -22, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 45 GP, 7 G, 11 A, 18 Pts, +8, 20 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 36 GP, 0 G, 10 A, 10 Pts, +4, 30 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 8 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 Pts, +7, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 18 GP, 9-6-0, 2.96 GAA, .900 Save Pct.

Injury Update: The only questions right now are the brothers Zajac, as Kelly is still nursing a nagging lower body injury.  Darcy sat out Sunday’s win and was the only player not in attendance for the team postgame autograph session, so not sure of his status.

This Week’s Schedule: A quick two game schedule for the Devils this week.  Just a ten hour bus ride to Norfolk awaits them, that’s all.  Friday and Saturday evening they close out their March slate by making their last trip ever to Virginia to take on the Admirals.  And if the two games this week were any indication…buckle up boys and girls.

Pop Quiz Answer: This week we’re looking at plus/minus ratings in Albany history.  The best belongs to Scott Pellerin, who was a +43 for the 1995-96 River Rats.  The worst is actually a tie: Jiri Bicek and Joel Bouchard both finished a -30 for the 2001-02 River Rats.

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