Tag Archives: AHL

One More Day…

Happy AHL Opening Day! (About time.)

Before Albany takes the ice up north tomorrow night to start the 2014-15 season, a few notes from the week to get everyone caught up:

-On Tuesday, New Jersey cut its final roster down to 23 by reassigning Cam Janssen, Steve Bernier, and Peter Harrold to Albany, after all three cleared waivers on Monday.  This will be the second tour of duty for both Bernier and Harrold, who both skated for the A-Devils during the 2011-12 season.  Janssen will be skating in Albany for the third season in a row after splitting the last two seasons between both Albany and New Jersey.

-Albany released Renat Mamashev, Alexandre Carrier, and Tom Hartnett from their professional tryout deals.  The current roster now stands at 28 players (17 F, 8 D, 3 G), which I expect to be reduced once an ECHL affiliate is found.

In league news:

-On Tuesday the AHL announced that Utica would be the host for the 2015 AHL All Star Classic, to be held January 25th (Skills Competition) and 26th (Hall of Fame, All-Star Game).  With Utica being a less than 90 minute drive for me, I am hoping to actually go to my first All Star events this year.  Well, ticket purchase and weather permitting, of course.

-And yesterday in Glens Falls, the newest AHL mascot, Scorch, was introduced to the world.  I’m still shaking my head over this one.

-Our friends over at Chirps from Center Ice have a full league preview, broken down by division.

Look for the Week 1 Primer (as mentioned earlier, I will only be doing pregamers once a week this season) early tomorrow afternoon.

 

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2014-15 Schedule Revealed

Finally, finally, finally (and did I mention finally?) the day has arrived.

After waiting for the NBA to get their schedule finalized (since a few Western Conference teams share the building), the AHL released the full 2014-15 schedule this morning.  Here is the full Albany schedule, followed by a breakdown:

(all home games in CAPS)

OCTOBER

11-at Adirondack

17-at Bridgeport

18-BRIDGEPORT

21-WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

24-at Hartford

25-HARTFORD

NOVEMBER

1-BRIDGEPORT

2-PORTLAND

5-at Hartford

8-at Bridgeport

9-at Bridgeport

12-SYRACUSE

14-at Portland

15-at Portland

21-WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

22-at Binghamton

23-BRIDGEPORT

26-HARTFORD

28-LEHIGH VALLEY*

29-UTICA

DECEMBER

2-SPRINGFIELD

5-at Providence

6-PORTLAND

7-ADIRONDACK

11-at Hartford

14-LEHIGH VALLEY*

19-at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

20-at Syracuse

26-at Syracuse

27-SPRINGFIELD

30-PROVIDENCE

JANUARY

2-SYRACUSE

3-at Bridgeport

4-at Bridgeport

9-HERSHEY

10-BRIDGEPORT

11-at Springfield

14-SPRINGFIELD

16-at Lehigh Valley

17-at Hershey

21-BRIDGEPORT+

23-at Worcester

24-WORCESTER

29-at Lehigh Valley

30-ST. JOHN’S

31-ST. JOHN’S

FEBRUARY

4-at Manchester

6-at Springfield

13-HERSHEY

14-at Hartford

15-HARTFORD

20-at Syracuse

21-at Utica

22-at Springfield

27-at Syracuse

28-at Hershey

MARCH

1-BINGHAMTON

6-at St. John’s

7-at St. John’s

13-WORCESTER

14-SYRACUSE

15-SPRINGFIELD

18-NORFOLK

21-NORFOLK

22-HARTFORD

27-at Norfolk

28-at Norfolk

APRIL

1-MANCHESTER

3-at Springfield

4-BINGHAMTON

10-at Binghamton

11-at Hartford

12-at Worcester

15-SYRACUSE

17-at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

18-HARTFORD

*at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City

+at Prudential Center, Newark

Looking at the numbers:

First, the opponents…

36 intra-division games, with Bridgeport and Hartford 10 times apiece, and Springfield and Syracuse 8 times.

20 games against the East Division (Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre), evenly split with 4 games each.

16 games against the Atlantic: 4 each with Worcester and St. John’s (back on the schedule for the first time in 2 seasons), and 2 each with Manchester and Providence.

Only 4 games in the Western Conference: 2 with Adirondack, 2 with Utica.  No Rochester yet again.  It’s actually going to be nice not having to see Adirondack 20 times this year (okay, it just seems that way but still).

3 neutral site home games, with 2 back in Atlantic City on November 28th and December 14th…and both against Lehigh Valley.  Great idea Lou, you just gave up two home crowds to Philly with that one!  And again, no one was told about this happening.

However, there is a game at the Rock on January 21st against Bridgeport.  About time the AHL Devils returned to the NHL home!

Only 9 3 in 3 weekends this year, but a majority of them are in the second half of the season.

Longest homestand comes in March, a 6 game stretch from the 13th-22nd.  The longest road trip comes just before that, a 5 game trip from February 20th-28th.  St. John’s and Norfolk two game swings are both in March as well.

Breakdown by day: Sunday 13, Monday 0, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 8, Thursday 2, Friday 23, Saturday 26.  Very weekend heavy schedule as usual.  And a couple of Tuesday home games, which I find rather weird.

Once again this season, all Saturday home games with the exception of January 24th (a 2 PM start to accommodate the annual RPI-Union matchup) will start at 5 PM. Look at it this way…if New Jersey plays the same night, you can get dinner and still catch at least half the game afterwards!  Sundays are at 3 PM, while all other start times are at 7.

The All Star Classic is scheduled for January 25th and 26th.  More information, including format and location, to come.

One more scheduling note to pass along, as a second preseason game was announced last week: the team will travel to Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, Connecticut, on October 1st to take on the Wolfpack.

 

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New Divisions, New Rules

The AHL just wrapped up its annual meetings in South Carolina this week…and with it, came a few big changes for the 2014-15 season:

-Yesterday, the divisional alignment for the season was announced, and with Lehigh Valley joining the lineup and Abbotsford moving east to Glens Falls, it’s an interesting setup:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic: Manchester, Portland, Providence, St. John’s, Worcester (no change)

East: Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Northeast: Albany, Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield, Syracuse

WESTERN CONFERENCE

North: Adirondack, Hamilton, Rochester, Toronto, Utica

Midwest: Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, Milwaukee, Rockford

West: Charlotte, Iowa, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Texas

The Phantoms move from Adirondack in the Northeast to the East Division, Syracuse moves from the East to the Northeast Division.  Abbotsford leaves the West with Adirondack going to the North.  Lake Erie moves from North to Midwest, and Iowa moves from Midwest to West.  Got all that?

Now, with Albany and Adirondack in different conferences, I’m hoping this means there’s a slight reduction in the season series.  Yeah, who am I kidding, I’ll still see them 20 times…

The playoff format remains the same from last season: Division winners will comprise the top 3 seeds, while the top 5 non division winners earn a spot.

Also from the meetings came some rule changes:

-Overtime periods are extended from 5 minutes to 7 minutes, starting as a 4 on 4 for the first three minutes, then going to 3 on 3 for the rest of the session.  If it gets to a shootout, it’s 3 rounds instead of 5 (like in the NHL).  Teams will change sides before the period begins, and also a full dry scrape of the ice surface will precede the start.

-If a player assesses two major penalties for fighting or three non-fighting majors in a game, they will receive a game misconduct.

-If a player loses his helmet during play and does not leave the ice immediately or put the helmet back on properly, they will receive a minor penalty.

And finally, mark your calendars: This year’s home opener will be on Saturday, October 18th.  With the season beginning on October 11th, it appears Albany will begin the season on the road for the second straight year.

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News of the Week

Yeah, it’s about time I updated this thing…

-The 2013-14 hockey season officially ended on Wednesday evening in St. John’s, as the Texas Stars took the Calder Cup title by finishing off the IceCaps in overtime, winning the series 4 games to 1.  There was one River Rat connection to the new champs, and it’s actually off ice: broadcaster Owen Newkirk, who was in the booth for the River Rats (during the Carolina days) for 2 seasons.

Meanwhile, in Devils land:

-Two unrestricted free agents returned to the fold, as Mike Sislo signed a 2 year, 2 way deal on Wednesday.  A well deserved contract for the 3rd year pro, who made his NHL debut back in January and lead Albany in goals this past season.

Then early Friday morning it was announced that Cam Janssen had signed a new 1 year, 2 way contract, which made everyone on my Devils Twitter feed curse under their breath.

And a third Devil has left for Europe, as Mattias Tedenby has joined Lev Praha of the KHL.  Not surprised by that move at all, unfortunately.

-Earlier today New Jersey announced their 6 game exhibition schedule…and sadly no games in Albany again this season.  Their only home game on neutral ice comes September 26th against the Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

-The annual rookie camp will take place July 13-18.  More info on that to come.

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Quick Saturday Morning Updates

Just a couple of notes to pass along:

-Last time I wrote, the AHL Conference Finals were just getting started.  Tomorrow, the Finals begin in Austin, Texas, where the Stars will be taking on St. John’s for all the proverbial marbles.  So how did they get there?

(4) St. John’s eliminated (6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-2

(1) Texas eliminated (3) Toronto 4-3

Again, oh what could have been.  A few people had told me they thought Albany would be a dark horse in the Eastern Conference, but the IceCaps probably should have got more credit.  It’s going to be an interesting matchup between these two teams.

Side note: unless Texas gets amazing attendance figures this round, Albany will win the playoff attendance wars, averaging just shy of 7300 for the two home games.  Considering this team’s regular season attendance history, this is an awesome feat.  Even though it was just two games.

-And another Devil has moved on, as defenseman Alexander Urbom has signed a 2 year deal with the KHL’s Severstal Cherepovets.  No truth to the rumor that I was doing this upon hearing the news.

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Pre Holiday Updates

After a little, oh, two week break from any writing, time to get this thing updated.

Let’s start with a few signing announcements:

-On Tuesday a pair of 2012 draft picks, both names familiar in Albany, agreed in principle to entry level deals.  The first announcement was for forward Ben Johnson, a 3rd round selection who appeared in 5 games as an amateur tryout at the end of the regular season after finishing his third year with Windsor in the OHL.  The second is fourth round choice Ben Thomson, who participated in Albany’s training camp in September before returning to Kitchener in the OHL.  Thomson split the season between Kitchener and North Bay, scoring 45 points in 55 games and adding 14 points in 22 playoff games for North Bay.  There is a chance Johnson could return to Windsor next season for his overage year.  In Lou We Trust posted a scouting report earlier today on both Bens and also Graham Black.

-We have our first A-Devil moving on, as earlier this week forward Harri Pesonen signed a two year deal in Switzerland, for Lausanne in the NLA.

-As for the Calder Cup…we are down to the final four teams, as the Conference Finals get underway tomorrow in the West and Saturday in the East.  Here are the second round results:

Eastern Conference:

(4) St. John’s eliminated (8) Norfolk 4-2

(6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton eliminated (7) Providence 4-3

Western Conference:

(1)Texas eliminated (4) Grand Rapids 4-2

(3) Toronto swept (2) Chicago 4-0

With the Griffins out, there will once again be a new Calder Cup champion.  All four remaining teams are looking for their first Cup, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton being the closest, finishing as runners up in 2001 (Saint John), 2004 (Milwaukee), and 2008 (Chicago).  Toronto finished as the runner up to Norfolk in 2012.  Texas and St. John’s are looking for their first ever Finals appearance.

And to think, if only things had gone differently in the first round, Albany could have had home ice once again…

-Meanwhile over in Belarus, there is one A-Devil participating in this year’s World Championships.  Raman Hrabarenka (well, Roman Graborenko according to the official roster) has appeared in 7 games for the host country, posting 2 assists.

 

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Playoffs Recap, Week 2: The Final Act

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  Sadly this week, that came true for Albany, who saw their first round series with the IceCaps go off the tracks once they reached Canada, only managing one goal in their final two games.  On with the final recap of the season:

Game 3: St. John’s 1, Albany 0

The series shifted to Newfoundland on Wednesday night, where a sold out whiteout was in effect.   The Icecaps dominated in shots during the first period, outshooting the Devils 17-6.  But Keith Kinkaid was up to the challenge, making quite a few big stops early on.  But off a Darcy Zajac turnover, Kael Mouillerat would breakaway and score with 2:10 left in the period for a 1-0 lead.  And that goal would stand up for goaltender Michael Hutchinson, as he only had to stop 8 Devil shots in the second period.  Third period Albany would outshoot St. John’s 10-5, but with still nothing getting past Hutchinson, it was too little too late.  Hutchinson would stop all 24 Albany shots, and the Devils found themselves in a 2-1 series hole.  Kinkaid was outstanding in net, stopping 34 of 35 shots.  The penalty kill was a little busy thanks to 3 minors in a span of 8 minutes from Jon Merrill, among others, but managed to go 6 for 6.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Harri Pesonen

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley

Extra: Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel, David Wohlberg, Cam Janssen, Graham Black, Ben Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Eric Gelinas/Adam Larsson

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett, Dan Kelly (inj.)

Game 4: St. John’s 4, Albany 1

Throw in all the must win cliches you want and they all would describe the Devils situation going into Friday night’s Game 4.  Unlike the night before, Albany outshot the hosts 12-6 in the first period.  But it was former River Rat killer Andrew Gordon (who was a key cog in sweeping the River Rats in their last ever playoff series while with Hershey) who got the IceCaps on the board 3:47 into the first.  He would then add a shorthanded goal 8 minutes into the second for a 2-0 lead.  Jon Merrill would answer less than 2 minutes later with a goal of his own, cutting the lead to 2-1.  But that was all the offense the Devils could muster.  Gordon would singlehandedly put the nail in the proverbial coffin by completing the hat trick on a power play late in the second for a 3-1 advantage.   John Albert would add a goal to make it a 3 goal lead.  And Michael Hutchinson took care of the rest, stopping 39 of 40 Devil shots on the night, and in turn ending the Devils season with a 3-1 series win.  Keith Kinkaid stopped 29 of 33 shots, but had no help offensively over the last two games.  Eric Gelinas was the only Devil to finish above even in plus/minus, but he was forced to leave in the second due to injury.

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby

Harri Pesonen-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Mike Sislo-Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito

Extra: Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg, Mike Hoeffel, Ben Johnson, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Jon Merrill/Alexander Urbom

Eric Gelinas/Adam Larsson

Extra: Dan Kelly (inj), Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Around the League:

Upset specials all over the Eastern Conference, as all 3 division champions are out. The top 4 seeds in the West all advance.

East: (1) Manchester eliminated by (8) Norfolk 3-1

(2) Springfield eliminated by (7) Providence 3-2

(3) Binghamton eliminated by (6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3-1

West: (1) Texas sweeps (8) Oklahoma City 3-0

(2) Chicago eliminates (7) Rochester 3-2

(3) Toronto sweeps (6) Milwaukee 3-0

(4) Grand Rapids eliminates (5) Abbotsford 3-1

The second round gets underway tomorrow in St. John’s.  To think, if Albany had made it out of the first round, they would have been the top seed remaining in the East and have home ice.  Oh what could have been…

Playoff Stat Leaders:

Goals: Six tied with 1

Assists: Kelly Zajac (2)

Points: 4 tied with 2

+/-: 3 tied with +1

Penalty Minutes: Jon Merrill (10)

Keith Kinkaid final stats: 1-3, 2.26 GAA, .932 Save Percentage

Orlando Update:

Unfortunately for the Solar Bears, they saw their season come to an end Tuesday night on home ice against Cincinnati, falling in Game 6 2-1 and losing their first round series 4 games to 2.  Maxime Clermont did not play in the final game due to injury.  He finishes his season with a combined 11-12-2 record and a 3.35 GAA , and 1-2 with a 2.03 GAA and one shutout in 3 appearances in the postseason.

What’s Next?

The season may be over, but I have some unfinished business: the other two parts of my season review.  Look for those later this week.

I will also be bringing back the Free Agent Tracker in July and recapping this year’s NHL Draft class.

And keeping up to date with signings, schedule hints, and any other newsworthy items as the summer goes on.

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