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Week 6 Recap: Turning a Corner?

No more 0 for November!  But there is still work to do to get back to that October magic.

11/12 vs. Syracuse: 3-2 L (SO)

The Devils made a brief return to home ice on Wednesday night, taking on old/new division rival Syracuse for the first time this season.  And things got going in a hurry, after a fight between Chris McKelvie and former River Rat Mike Angelidis just 42 seconds into the contest.  It appeared the home team gained momentum from that, as Scott Timmins would score 24 seconds later for a 1-0 lead.  Yanni Gourde would tie the game up unassisted over three minutes later.  A physical first period was capped off by a second fight between Darcy Zajac and Tanner Richard.  Second period saw the Crunch take the lead on a Joel Vermin goal…and another fight between rookie Ben Thomson and Jake Dotchin.  Tim Sestito would tie the game up early in the third, and the Devils had to battle through 2 questionable penalty kills (by questionable I mean why did the new referee in training call Timmins for boarding, but earlier a similar hit that nearly injured Sestito not get called?) just to get to the end of regulation…and the dreaded overtime.  Albany had a golden opportunity to finally win an overtime game for the first time in over two years when they had a full 4 on 3 power play (in reality Reid Boucher should have been awarded a penalty shot, but a holding penalty was the call), but could not capitalize.  It was on to the shootout, where after both teams scored in round 2 (Paul Thompson with the goal), Richard scores in round 3 and Reid Boucher missed to give Syracuse the extra point…and the winless streak continued on.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 23 of 25 shots in 67 minutes only to be tagged with the loss.  Thompson and Reece Scarlett each had helpers.  And as for the penalty kill?  A perfect 7 for 7.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Paul Thompson-Scott Timmins

Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher-Graham Black

Tim Sestito-Ben Thomson-Stefan Matteau

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Mark Fraser/Reece Scarlett

Peter Harrold/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Dan Kelly, Joe Faust

11/14 at Portland: 4-0 W

The Devils headed northeast to Maine for a weekend 2 game set against the Pirates.  Scott Clemmensen drew the start in the first game, matching up against former Devil Mike McKenna.  The top line came through in the first to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, as Joe Whitney scored his 4th of the season.  Also of note from the first, Mark Fraser was the first Devil this year to get called for the new penalty of playing without a helmet.  After a rather uneventful second period, the Devils broke out in the third period.  Reid Boucher scored just his second of the year 35 seconds into the period to double the lead.  Tim Sestito would add his fourth midway through for a 3-0 lead.  Finally, to top it all off, Fraser would score his first since returning to the Devils with 1:01 remaining to seal the win, breaking a six game winless drought and the first November victory.  Clemmensen picked up his first A-Devil win, stopping all 31 shots for the shutout.  Sestito and Mike Sislo added two assists apiece, while the penalty kill survived a Koharski called game (this time Jamie) and went a perfect 7 for 7.

Highlights from AHL Live can be found here.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Tim Sestito-Reid Boucher-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Mark Fraser/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Peter Harrold, Joe Faust

11/15 at Portland: 2-0 L

No lineup changes for the rematch on Saturday, except in Portland’s net, as Louis Domingue drew the start against Clemmensen.  After a rather uneventful first period, the hosts broke through in the second period.  Just as the Devils were finishing off their fourth penalty kill of the game, Alex Bolduc scored to give Portland a 1-0 lead, their first goal in a franchise record 169:02.  A scary moment happened later in the period, as Paul Thompson ran full speed into Domingue, sending him and the net flying.  Domingue had to leave the game due to injury, bringing in Mike McKenna for relief, and Thompson was assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for interference.  Albany managed to kill off the major, but without their leading scorer they could not come up with any offense to tie things up.  Eric Selleck would add an empty net goal with 39 seconds left in the game to seal the combined shutout, the first against Albany this season.  Clemmensen stopped 22 of 23 shots in picking up a hard luck loss.

Highlights from AHL Live can be found here.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Graham Black-Ben Thomson-Stefan Matteau

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Mark Fraser/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Peter Harrold, Joe Faust

Pop Quiz: Before Saturday night, who was the last goaltender to shut the Devils out during regulation in the regular season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

A few candidates, but give it to the rookie.  Ben Thomson, second period on Wednesday.

My Player of the Week:

A few strong individual game performances, such as a three point effort from Tim Sestito on Friday and a shutout by Scott Clemmensen.  But this week I salute the penalty kill, who recovered very nicely from last weekend’s disaster in Bridgeport with a perfect week.  20 for 20 over the three games, jumping from dead last in the league into the top 20.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (9)

Assists: Scott Timmins (9)

Points: 2 tied with 14

+/-: Paul Thompson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Corbin McPherson (35)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (2)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.920)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 9 GP, 8 points, 7 G, 1 A, +1, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 4 GP, 2-2-0, 4.05 GAA, .867 Save Pct.

Injury Report: Kelly Zajac and Cam Janssen remain on the out indefinitely list.  Dan Kelly returned on Friday after missing 3 games due to illness.

This Week’s Schedule:

Bad news, the first 3 in 3 weekend of the season is upon us.  But the good news?  It’s near minimal travel.  Friday night the Penguins come in for their second and final visit of the season.  Saturday it’s west on Interstate 88 to Binghamton for the first matchup against the Senators.  Then a quick turnaround back home on Sunday for yet another visit from Bridgeport.

Pop Quiz Answer: Last person to shut out the Devils in the regular season without overtime or a shootout?  Martin Jones, who picked up a 19 save 3-0 whitewash in Manchester on February 9th.  If you’re going by overtime, Peter Mannino of Wilkes-Barre pulled it off on April 5.  And during the first round playoff loss Michael Hutchinson beat Keith Kinkaid 1-0 in St. John’s in Game 3 on April 30th, the first/last postseason shutout.

 

 

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Week 5 Recap: At a Disadvantage

After a 1 point out of 6 week…I want the team from October back.

11/5 at Hartford: 3-1 L

It was an early start to this week’s action as Albany traveled east to Hartford for a special school day morning special against the Wolfpack.  And early on it appeared the visitors were the ones who had their morning coffee.  Paul Thompson scored his league leading 9th goal just 45 seconds after the puck dropped for a fast 1-0 lead.  Joey Crabb would score unassisted two minutes later to tie things up at 1.  The Devils would outshoot their hosts 14-3 in the first.  A quiet second saw no goals but the Wolfpack gave Scott Clemmensen, in his first start since returning to Albany, a little work, as Hartford outshot the Devils 10-5.  Third period saw the Devils special teams emulate their parent club.  Ryan Haggerty and Oscar Lindberg would score back to back power play goals within 1:39 to pull away with the win, the Devils third straight defeat.  Clemmensen would finish with 16 saves, while Dan Kelly and Raman Hrabarenka would have the lone assists.

Highlights via AHL Live can be found here.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Paul Thompson-Scott Timmins

Mike Sislo-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Tim Sestito-Stefan Matteau-Ben Thomson

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Ben Johnson, Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Mark Fraser, Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Thursday: With Adam Henrique sidelined due to an injury in Tuesday’s home loss to the Blues, Mike Sislo was recalled for the midwest swing through St. Louis and Detroit.

Saturday: Sislo was sent back to Albany after New Jersey returned from the road.  He did manage to get his first NHL point, an assist on Marek Zidlicky’s third period goal in a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Thursday.

11/8 at Bridgeport: 7-2 L

It was south to Bridgeport, for the start of a two game set against the Sound Tigers.  Scott Wedgewood drew the start and…things went downhill from there.  Joe Whitney gets call for tripping just 54 seconds into the game, and Harry Zolnierczyk connects on the ensuing power play 1:02 later for a 1-0 lead.  Later in the period, David Wohlberg sits for a slashing call.  Alan Quine connects on that ensuing power play 1:55 later for a 2-0 lead.  Detect a pattern yet?  Things started out looking a little better in the second, as Peter Harrold would score on a power play to cut the lead in half.  Then Corbin McPherson sits for tripping…and 1:57 later Mike Halmo connects for a 3-1 lead.  Just 26 seconds later, John Persson would add an even strength goal for a 4-1 lead.  Exit Wedgewood, hello Scott Clemmensen.  A few minutes later, Rod Pelley would take a boarding call.  You can guess what happened next…44 seconds later Colin McDonald scores for a 5-1 lead.  Chris McKelvie would score his first of the season late in the period to cut the deficit to 5-2.  Third period…more of the same.  McPherson sits for holding at 1:41, 39 seconds later Kael Mouillerat scores for a 6-2 lead.  To top it off, Darcy Zajac takes a slashing call at 13:53.  Twenty-four seconds later…you guessed it, the 7th goal, the second of the night for Zolnierczyk.  To scare us further, the Devils got stuck with a 5 on 3 late and finished the game shorthanded…and they FINALLY managed to kill that.  So if you’re keeping score…that’s 6 PP goals for the Sound Tigers, which broke a franchise record.  And everyone complains about New Jersey’s PK…

Anyway…Wedgewood finished with 8 saves on 12 shots before making way for Clemmensen, who stopped 17 of 20.  Seth Helgeson, Scott Timmins, and Raman Hrabarenka each had a helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Mike Sislo, Ben Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Raman Hrabarenka/Peter Harrold

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Extra: Dan Kelly, Mark Fraser, Joe Faust

11/9 at Bridgeport: 4-3 L (SO)

About 17 and a half hours later, it was time for the rematch and a shot at redemption.  The fragile special teams got a very early test when Darcy Zajac was sent to the box just 21 seconds into the game.  But the penalty kill came through, and was tested yet again when Mark Fraser (in his first game since signing a PTO a week earlier) was called for a trip.  Second test passed.  But on a turnover, Scooter Vaughan would break away and score on Scott Clemmensen for a 1-0 lead.  It took till late in the second period for the Devils to finally rally, as Mike Sislo scored on a power play in his first game back since returning from New Jersey to tie the game at 1.  On another power play early in the third, Tim Sestito gave the Devils their first lead since early Wednesday morning.  Alan Quine would retie the game on…wait for it…a power play goal.  (Okay, okay, I’ll leave it alone now.  It was the only one for Bridgeport on the day.)  Harry Zolnierczyk would give the Sound Tigers the lead back, but Graham Black would tie it up again with a power play goal, the third for the Devils on the day.  A seven minute overtime session produced a very good chance by Scott Timmins early, but no goals.  It was on to the shootout, which needed five rounds after Paul Thompson and Kael Mouillerat scored in the second round.  Sislo, Joe Whitney, and Black were unable to come up with the second goal (Stefan Matteau was shut out in round 1), and Clemmensen was unable to stop C.J. Stretch, giving the Sound Tigers the extra point.  Clemmensen finished with 31 saves on 34 shots through 67 minutes.  Matteau added two assists.  Joe Faust finally saw his first professional game action, meaning every Devil on the roster has got into at least one game.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Paul Thompson-Scott Timmins

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Tim Sestito-Ben Johnson-Ben Thomson

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Reid Boucher, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Peter Harrold/Joe Faust

Mark Fraser/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

Pop Quiz: Before Wednesday, when was the last time Scott Clemmensen appeared in an Albany uniform?  The answer coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Dance lessons courtesy of Seth Helgeson:

Bonus: I never thought I’d see the day where I saw Sislo and fight in the same boxscore line.

My Player of the Week:

Um…well…there weren’t any breakout performances this week.  So for the 4 players with a multi point week, I salute you.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (9)

Assists: 3 tied with 8

Points: Paul Thompson/Scott Timmins (12)

+/-: Paul Thompson/Raman Hrabarenka (+8)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson (31)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (2)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (3.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.879)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 6 GP, 7 points (6 G, 1 A), +3, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 1 GP, 0-1-0, 5.10 GAA, .833 Save Pct.

Injury Report: Kelly Zajac and Cam Janssen remain out.  I am curious about Dan Kelly’s status since he did not make the trip to Bridgeport.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games coming up this week, and good news, no Bridgeport!  Wednesday the Devils return home to face Syracuse for the first time this season.  Then it’s off to Maine Friday and Saturday for a two game stint against Portland.

Pop Quiz Answer: The last time anyone saw Scott Clemmensen in an Albany uniform? January 29, 2006.  He was in goal for the River Rats in a 5-4 loss against…the Wolfpack in Hartford.  Talk about coming full circle.

 

 

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Week 4 Recap: Back to Earth

It was inevitable…after an amazing October, November got started on a rough note.  Three out of a possible six points, but still a standings point in 8 of the first 9 games is not bad.

10/29 vs. Springfield: 4-2 W

Albany got an early start to the week thanks to a schedule change, hosting the Falcons on Wednesday (the game’s original date was December 2nd, but got moved up due to a concert date at the TU Center).  The visitors took a very quick 1-0 lead on a Ryan Craig goal just 1:10 in.  Craig would add a second goal on a power play 6 minutes later.  Graham Black, back in the lineup for the first time since opening weekend in Adirondack, would score his first as a professional on a deflection late in the period to cut the deficit in half.  Mike Sislo would tie the game at 2 midway through the second with his fifth goal.  On a delayed penalty late in the second, Scott Timmins would extend his season long point streak to seven games with his fourth, putting Albany ahead for good.  Black would add his second goal on a power play midway through the third for insurance.  With the win, the Devils remained the only team in the league without a regulation loss and extended their win streak to 5.  Keith Kinkaid settled down after a shaky first period and stopped 30 of 32 shots in picking up his fourth win.  Stefan Matteau returned to the lineup after missing a week due to injury and contributed two assists.  Four other Devils each had a helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Graham Black

Tim Sestito-Chris McKelvie-Steve Bernier

Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson

Extra: Cam Janssen, Kelly Zajac (both inj), Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

11/1 vs. Bridgeport: 4-1 L

The homestand continued as the calendar turned over to November, and Albany saw a familiar foe come in, facing Bridgeport for the third time in 8 games.  Paul Thompson would add to his league leading goal total, notching his 8th on a 5-on-3 power play midway through the first period (and with the assist, Scott Timmins extended his point streak to 8 games) for a 1-0 lead.  Bridgeport tied the game up halfway through the second on a lucky (or in Scott Wedgewood’s case, unlucky) bounce and a kick into the Albany net (goal credited to C. J. Stretch for those keeping score).  The visitors would essentially put the game away late in the period, scoring twice in 2:28 (the second on a 5-on-3 power play) to take a 3-1 lead.  Bridgeport would add a power play/empty net goal late in the third to seal the victory, the first regulation loss for Albany on the season (it had to happen sometime, unfortunately).  Wedgewood stopped 22 of 25 shots in the loss.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Steve Bernier

Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Graham Black

Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Cam Janssen, Kelly Zajac, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

11/2 vs. Portland: 2-1 L (OT)

It was a very quick turnaround for Albany, as they hosted former Devil Mike McKenna and Portland for the first time this season.  And it was a very quick start out of the gate, as Joe Whitney scored his third of the year just 1:28 in for a 1-0 lead.  With the assist, Scott Timmins’s point streak hit 9 games.  A 20-25 minute delay due to ice conditions near the Zamboni entrance of the arena (or, the Devils Shoot Twice net) ended the first a little early, extending the second period.  The Pirates would tie the game up midway through the second on a power play goal by Dylan Reese.  After a penalty filled third period (nothing physical…or a typical Chris Brown called game) with nothing across, it was on to overtime, the second time for Albany this season.  The Devils had two very good chances early on–Mike Sislo just narrowly missed getting the puck across the line and Timmins had a great shot go wide.  But the Pirates would prevail 2:58 in, as Lucas Lessio scored the game winner to give Portland the win and the extra point.  Keith Kinkaid stopped 21 of 23 shots, while Paul Thompson had the other assist.

Highlights:

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Graham Black

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie

Tim Sestito-Ben Johnson-Steve Bernier

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg, Ben Thomson

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Raman Hrabarenka (resting?), Joe Faust

Pop Quiz: With Wednesday’s win, the Devils extended their streak of games without a regulation loss to 7.  When was the last time an Albany AHL franchise started a season with an unbeaten streak that long?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

So when did Brandon Burlon become a fighter?

My Player of the Week:

Splitting it between two players this week…Scott Timmins for being a constant presence on the scoresheet (he has registered at least one point in all 9 games thus far), and an honorable mention to rookie Graham Black for his first two goal game as a professional.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (8)

Assists: Scott Timmins (7)

Points: Paul Thompson/Scott Timmins (11)

+/-: Raman Hrabarenka (+9)

Penalty Minutes:  Dan Kelly (29)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (4)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (1.95)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.931)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 3 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 0 PIM

Injury Report: Cam Janssen (shoulder; indefinitely), Kelly Zajac (upper body; unknown timetable)

BREAKING: Just as I was finishing this up, the Devils throw me a curveball.  They have signed defenseman Mark Fraser to a professional tryout contract.  There are already two extra defensemen as it is, why throw in a third?  I get the feeling something is going on in New Jersey that has yet to play out.

This marks Fraser’s third stint in Albany, with the first coming in a 4 game stint in a River Rats uniform near the end of the 2005-06 season (the last season before Lowell) and 5 games with the A-Devils during the 2010-11 season.  He split last season between Edmonton and Toronto, appearing in 42 games and registering 2 points.

This Week’s Schedule:

The Devils hit the road this week for three games, all in Connecticut.  Wednesday morning (yes, morning) they make their second visit of the season to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack.  Then it’s back to Bridgeport for a two game set, Saturday evening and a quick turnaround on Sunday afternoon.

Pop Quiz Answer: The 1994-95 Albany River Rats started the season with 4 wins and 3 ties (remember those?) before taking a 6-2 loss to Binghamton on October 21, 1994 at the then named Knickerbocker Arena.  Oh by the way…this team went on to win the Calder Cup the following May.  A positive sign for this year’s group?  We shall see.

 

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Week 3 Recap: Greetings from the Penthouse!

An undefeated week in the books…and currently first in the Eastern Conference, with a brief few minutes as first in the league.  Offense galore, a few fisticuffs, and some good plays all mixed in.  It’s a happy recap this week!

10/21 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 4-0 W

A rare Tuesday night start, as the Devils welcomed the Penguins to Albany for the first time since 2012 (both home matchups were in Atlantic City last season).  After a chippy first period that saw more fights (2) than goals (0), Albany would get on the board in the second.  Mike Sislo would score on an early power play for a 1-0 advantage.  He would come through again later in the period, on another man advantage, to double the lead.  Things would remain quiet till late in the third, when a Tim Sestito empty netter would seal the win, then the main event broke out as two fights went off simultaneously, costing one Devil a game (more on that in a minute).  Reid Boucher would add his first goal of the season just after everything settled down, just for good measure.  Keith Kinkaid would stop all 22 Penguin shots in picking up his first shutout of the season and 10th of his career, tying for the Albany/Lowell Devil franchise lead with Jeff Frazee.  Four Devils would each contribute one assist.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Steve Bernier

Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson-Cam Janssen

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Stefan Matteau, Ben Johnson, Graham Black, David Wohlberg, Myles Bell

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Wednesday: For his role in a late third period fight and earning an instigator minor as a result, Darcy Zajac was suspended one game by the AHL and sat out Friday night’s game in Hartford.

Friday: The first of the extra players has found a home, as forward Myles Bell was reassigned to Evansville of the ECHL.  He had yet to crack the lineup, but did appear during the preseason.  The Devils remain the only team in the AHL without an official ECHL affiliation.

10/24 at Hartford: 7-3 W

It was back east to Connecticut on Friday evening as the Devils started a home and home set with the Wolfpack.  Ben Johnson and David Wohlberg would make their season debuts, filling in for Cam Janssen (injured) and Darcy Zajac (suspended).  Rookie Ben Thomson would score his first as a professional (originally credited to Dan Kelly; he would get the primary assist later) 5 minutes in for a 1-0 lead.  Marek Hrivik would quickly tie the game with a shorthanded tally.  Paul Thompson would break the tie with his league leading 7th goal (also originally credited to Kelly, who would still get a primary assist out of it), only to see Chris Bourque re-tie it over a minute later.  Joe Whitney would finally get into the goal column in the second with a power play goal to break the tie yet again.  Third period would see the Devils near completely take over the game.  Thomson would score his second of the game to double the lead.  Scott Timmins would follow just over five minutes later for a 5-2 lead.  With Corbin McPherson serving a double minor, J.T. Miller would bring Hartford back to within two with a power play goal of his own.  But during the same penalty Mike Sislo would score his third shorthanded for a 6-3 lead, chasing Wolfpack goaltender Jason Missiaen (already following Lundquist’s lead, I see) in favor of rookie Mackenzie Skapski.  Sislo would score his second on an empty netter late to finish off the 7-3 win and give the Wolfpack their first regulation loss.  Keith Kinkaid stopped 27 of 30 shots in picking up his third win.  Four Devils had one assist each, while Kelly and Hrabarenka each finished a +4.  Peter Harrold, Timmins and Thompson were all at +3.

Highlights:

Lines:

Paul Thompson-Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mike Sislo

Steve Bernier-Tim Sestito-Ben Johnson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Cam Janssen, Chris McKelvie, Darcy Zajac, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Corbin McPherson/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

10/25 vs. Hartford: 5-2 W

It was back on home ice to finish off the two game series with the Wolfpack.  Scott Wedgewood would get the nod between the pipes, while Jason Missiaen would get a second chance at redemption after being pulled the night before.  Chris McKelvie would make his season debut, while Darcy Zajac returned after serving his sentence.  Unlike the night before, it was Hartford who got going first.  The other Bourque, Ryan, would get the visitors on the board midway through the first.  Joe Whitney would score his second of the season late in the period to tie it up.  But just as quickly, Conor Allen would give Hartford the lead right back.  The Devils would take over in the second and never look back.  Darcy Zajac would score his first of the season on a beautiful shorthanded break from center ice to tie the game at 2.  Just over a minute later, Scott Timmins would score his third to give the home team the lead.  Raman Hrabarenka would score on a power play early in the third for a 4-2 lead.  Rod Pelley would score an empty netter with less than a minute remaining to cap Albany’s fourth win in a row.  Wedgewood had a strong day in net, stopping 26 of 28 shots in picking up his second win (and a #2 star of the game).  Brandon Burlon contributed two helpers.

Highlights:

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Steve Bernier

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson-Chris McKelvie

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Cam Janssen, Graham Black, David Wohlberg, Ben Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Peter Harrold

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Pop Quiz: With Tuesday’s blanking of the Penguins, Keith Kinkaid tied a franchise record with his 10th career shutout.  He also owns the Albany AHL mark, going back to the River Rats days.  Who is second on the list?  Stay tuned for the answer.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

I had a few nominees to choose from.  Unfortunately no video has surfaced yet of any of them.  You disappoint me, Internet.

My Player of the Week:

Lot of great individual performances this week, but I’m giving the nod to Mike Sislo and his four goals (in three different situations) in two games.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (7)

Assists: Joe Whitney (6)

Points: 3 tied with 8

+/-: Raman Hrabarenka (+8)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (27)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (3)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (1.95)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.933)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 1 game played, 0 points, 0 PIM, 5 SOG

Injury Report: Cam Janssen (indefinitely, upper body, possibly shoulder), Stefan Matteau (lower body; no word on timetable)

This Week’s Schedule:

The homestand continues with three more games on tap.  Wednesday Springfield visits for the first time this season.  Saturday sees a return visit from Bridgeport.  The weekend finishes with a Sunday afternoon visit from Portland.

Pop Quiz Answer: Peter Sidorkiewicz had 8 shutouts during his River Rats career, all coming over a three season stretch between 1995-96 and 1997-98 (he appeared in 15 games during the Rats inaugural 1993-94 season without recording a shutout).

 

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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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Playoffs Recap, Week 1: Heartbreak and a Split

For the first time in 4 years, I finally got to experience playoff hockey without having to drive 2+ hours away and live vicariously through other teams.

And if the last two days are any indication, I want to do this for, oh, three more rounds, if possible.

Looking back at the beginning of a very intense first two games between the Devils and St. John’s, which ended in a split as the best of five shifts way north this week:

Game 1: St. John’s 2, Albany 1

The series began Friday night on home ice, but it was the visitors who drew the first strike.  Eric O’Dell would put the IceCaps up 1-0 4:29 into the first period.  Albany would respond early in the second on a power play goal by Joe Whitney to tie things up at 1.  It then turned into an offensive struggle as both teams locked in defensively and the intensity grew as the game carried into the third.  And not to mention quite a few questionable calls from the referees (which is standard for Chris Brown, but more so now in the postseason).  Just as all 6500 in the building were expecting the battle to carry over into overtime, Keith Kinkaid would misplay the puck by the net and Ben Chiarot would score with just 23.1 seconds left in the third period, giving St. John’s the win and a 1-0 series lead.  Kinkaid stopped 30 of 32 shots in the loss.  Jon Merrill and Mike Sislo had the lone assists.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg

Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Harri Pesonen

Joe Whitney-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel, Ben Johnson, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Eric Gelinas/Jon Merrill

Extra: Alexander Urbom, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Game 2: Albany 4, St. John’s 2

It was a quick turnaround for the Devils in Game 2, as they faced a virtual must win situation.  Much like in Game 1, it was the IceCaps who got the early lead, this time from Brenden Kichton 10 minutes into the first period.  But Reid Boucher would answer a minute later with his first postseason goal to tie the game at 1.  Stefan Matteau would then give Albany their first lead of the series with a power play goal late in the period for a 2-1 advantage.  Kichton would tie the game at 2 on a power play goal early in the second.  But less than 3 minutes later Mattias Tedenby would give the Devils the lead for good with a power play goal of his own.  Scott Timmins would add an insurance power play marker halfway through the third to seal the win for Albany, and in the process tying the series up at 1 apiece.  Keith Kinkaid got the start again and stopped 30 of 32 shots (that sounds like a pattern) and picked up #1 star honors.  Kelly Zajac added two assists.  And the power play finished at 3-for-9 (and there could have been more power play opportunities but the refs missed a few yet again).

Lines:

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac

Scott Timmins-Harri Pesonen-Reid Boucher

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

Defense Pairings:

Adam Larsson/Eric Gelinas

Alexander Urbom/Jon Merrill

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Around the League:

So how are the rest of the conference quarterfinals going?  Here’s a quick update:

East: (1) Manchester-(8) Norfolk: tied at 1

(2) Springfield-(7) Providence: Springfield leads 2-1

(3) Binghamton-(6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: tied at 1

West: (1) Texas-(8) Oklahoma City: Texas leads 2-0

(2) Chicago-(7) Rochester: tied at 1

(3) Toronto-(6) Milwaukee: Toronto leads 2-0

(4) Grand Rapids-(5) Abbotsford: Grand Rapids leads 2-0

We could have our first team heading to the semifinals as early as Tuesday.

Orlando Update:

The Solar Bears are not done yet.  After falling 3-0 in their Kelly Cup Eastern Conference quarterfinal series vs. Cincinnati, they have won their last two to send the series back to Florida for Game 6 on Tuesday night.  Maxime Clermont played a huge role in extending the series by shutting out the Cyclones 2-0 on Friday evening, stopping all 25 shots.  He did not play in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win.

This Week’s Schedule:

The series shifts 1600 miles to the northeast to Newfoundland.  Game 3 comes on Wednesday night at the always sold out Mile One Centre, with a 6 PM EST start (reminder: NST is 1 and a half hours ahead).  Game 4 follows on Friday evening, and if needed Game 5 on Saturday.  I will not be around for Game 3 due to work, but will have tweets for Game 4 and if needed, Game 5.

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Not Done Yet.

Hard to believe that we have reached the end of the regular season in the AHL.

But the good news for the Devils is…it’s not over yet.

For the first time since 2010, a Albany/Devil team will be playing in the postseason for a chance at the Calder Cup.  And it was a clean sweep for the second straight week to boot.  Here we go with another happy recap of the week:

Tuesday: Per the AHL transactions, Curtis Gedig was released from his amateur tryout contract.  He joined Albany on April 4th, but never appeared in a game.

Wednesday: It appears the Devils will be looking for another ECHL team to assign players next season, as Elmira became the new affiliate for Buffalo and Rochester.

4/16 at Portland: 3-2 W (SO)

The last road game of the regular season saw the Devils in Lewiston, taking on the Pirates with a playoff berth awaiting them with a win.  After a scoreless first, Portland struck early in the second period–23 seconds in–on a Greg Carey goal.  Reid Boucher would answer with his 22nd about 6 minutes later.  Dan Kelly would put Albany ahead late in the period with his 3rd.  But Portland would tie it up with just under 13 minutes left in the third on a power play goal by Lucas Lessio.  The game would carry over into overtime, where Albany would manage the only two shots on goal.  It was on to the 15th shootout of the season, where Mattias Tedenby and Boucher missed in the first two rounds, and Jordan Szwarz would connect in the 2nd to put Portland up 1-0.  In the third round, Keith Kinkaid would stop Andy Miele, then Stefan Matteau would score to tie it up.  Kinkaid stopped Brandon Yip in the 4th round, then Mike Sislo, in his first appearance since March 30th, would connect for a 2-1 lead.  All Kinkaid had to do was stop Carey in the 5th…and he was successful, officially clinching a playoff spot for the Devils, the first since the River Rats in 2010 when Carolina was the parent club.  Kinkaid stopped 20 of 22 saves in regulation/overtime in picking up the win.  Kelly Zajac added two assists.

Note: I was not around to watch online, so no idea how lines/defensive pairings went.

4/19 vs. Springfield: 5-2 W

One game to go, and it was all about the positioning, as the Devils played host to the Falcons.  Win and they finish no lower than 6th.  Lose, and possibly slip into the 8th spot.  David Wohlberg made sure the second scenario wasn’t a possibility, as he scored just seven seconds into the game on former Devil goaltender Mike McKenna for a 1-0 lead.  Scott Timmins would add his 13th goal 8 minutes later for a two goal lead.  Joe Whitney and Brandon Burlon would score 1:18 apart in the second for a 4-0 Devil lead, chasing McKenna in favor of rookie Anton Forsberg.  And the goaltender switch seemed to help Springfield at first, as they would cut the lead in half on goals by Jake Hansen and Darryl Boyce in the third.  But then they would pull Forsberg rather early, and Harri Pesonen would take advantage and score his 15th to put the Devils back up by 3.  Scott Wedgewood would stop 20 of 22 in getting the win, the Devils fifth in a row to close out the regular season.  Ben Johnson would notch his first professional point via an assist on Pesonen’s goal.  Four other Devils each had assists as well.  And all this was despite having half the regulars/NHL callups out of the lineup resting.

Lines:

Darcy Zajac-Stefan Matteau-David Wohlberg

Mike Sislo-Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Harri Pesonen

Cam Janssen-Ben Johnson-Graham Black

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Mike Hoeffel, Rod Pelley, Mattias Tedenby, Kelly Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Dan Kelly

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Eric Gelinas

Extra: Seth Helgeson, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Corbin McPherson, Joe Faust

Conference Standings:

When the smoke finally cleared on Saturday night, the final results:

1. Manchester–105 points (won Atlantic Division)

2. Springfield–100 (won Northeast Division)

3. Binghamton–96 (won East Division)

4. St. John’s–99

5. ALBANY–93

6. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–92

7. Providence–91

8. Norfolk–90

That means, Albany will be taking on St. John’s in the first round.  More info on that to come.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No gloves dropped or faces punched this week.

My Player of the Week:

You know what?  For such a great run in the regular season, let’s reward everyone!  And I really couldn’t pick just one who stood out in both games this week.

Team Leaders:

I’ll have final stats in Part 1 of the Season in Review, details to come on that.

Orlando Update:

The Solar Bears dropped Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup to Cincinnati 4-2 in Florida.  Maxime Clermont drew the start and stopped 22 of 26 in the loss.  Game 2 is Sunday evening, then it’s off to Ohio for Games 3-5 on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Hot off the presses, the first round schedule is out: The series opens in Albany on Friday evening, followed by Game 2 on Saturday.  Games 3-5 will be played in St. John’s on Wednesday, April 30th, Friday, May 2nd, and Saturday, May 3rd (Friday and Saturday if needed).

As far as coverage goes for me blogwise: Monday I will have Part 1 of the Season Review, with all final regular season stats.  No individual pregamers, since it’s the same opponent.  I will have a full stat pack for the series by Friday afternoon, the plan is for a noontime release.  I will do the same for any rounds the Devils make after that.  There will be a recap of Games 1 and 2 next Sunday, and a photo gallery as well.

Twitter wise: I will definitely be on hand for Game 1.  Saturday may be a little tricky, as I am going to Yankee Stadium (yay free tickets in the terrace level!) for a 1 PM game.  I plan on coming straight to the arena when I get home, which if all goes well I’ll miss mostly the first period.  Game 3 I won’t be around due to work obligations, but Games 4 and 5 I will do if they are needed.

With that all said…time to start the journey to the Cup!

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