Welcome once again to the annual Season in Review. As I have done the past four years, the review will be broken down into three parts: statistics, fun with numbers, and my favorite things from the season gone by.
Here it is, the final part, my favorite things (formerly called What I Learned). There is always more to this hockey thing than tweeting, photo taking, recapping, etc.
While I was driving to Wilkes-Barre last weekend for my last road trip of the season, I started thinking about just how I wanted to look back on the last few months (and when you have 3 hours in the car you have a lot of time to think). People, moments, things that happened on and off the ice. Then it came to me…taking a page from In Lou We Trust I came up with some superlative awards to sum up the year for me. So without further delay:
You’re Not Allowed to Leave. Ever.
Given to Graham Black for probably being the most well rounded Devil I have probably ever met in 5 years. I felt sorry for the rookie, who played quite well for his first pro season despite injuries and illness limiting him to 46 games.
You’re Also Not Allowed to Leave. Ever.
Given to Matt Lorito who showed up on an amateur tryout in March, got a chance to play when Joe Whitney got hurt in Norfolk, and immediately made an impact playing on the top line. Game winning goal in his pro debut, a shootout winner in Springfield in early April, and a record tying 5 points in his last game on April 15th. He is already under an AHL contract for next season, and I hope the New Jersey brass was paying attention.
Best 1 Game Cameo Performance
Remember when Adam Larsson showed up for one game in December after getting over the mumps? Not really? It was because it was on the road in Wilkes-Barre on December 19th. He contributed two assists in a 4-2 Devil win.
Best Multi Game Cameo Performance
Remember earlier in the season when Steve Bernier and Peter Harrold were here? That lasted oh, about a month or so before both were summoned back to New Jersey.
Where Did This Guy Come From?
When I first saw Paul Thompson’s name on the training camp roster, I didn’t know much about him, so I asked my friends in Wilkes-Barre and Springfield for a scouting report. Nowhere in that was just how much offense he would create. Who would have guessed he would score 4 times in the season opener and go on to set the season franchise record for goals with 33? And he will be re-signed in July to a 2 way deal, a well deserved one at that.
Best Player Performance That Ticked Off An Opposing Fanbase
Mark Fraser fighting J.P. Cote in Syracuse on December 20th…well the fight wasn’t the problem. It was Fraser raising the roof as he skated to the penalty box after the fight. He had his own “fan club” upon returning to the Salt City the day after Christmas (and had to answer to Eric Neilson in the first period).
Tough Building Award
The Broome County/Floyd Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton has been a house of horrors for the Devils in recent years. This year alone, they were outscored 13-3 in two games. But when the Senators came to Albany, no issues in sweeping them.
Most Overused Hashtag
Of course it involved trying to get someone playing time. This year’s campaign? #FreeFaust for rookie Joe Faust, who was stuck in the #7 defenseman slot, but filled in nicely when he actually did get to play. Here’s to more playing time for him next season so I don’t have to wave to him from the concourse in Springfield.
Obligatory Fight of the Year, Bronze Medal
April 17th in Wilkes-Barre, Cam vs. PL3.
Obligatory Fight of the Year, Silver Medal
December 7th against Adirondack, Cam vs. Trevor Gillies.
Obligatory Fight of the Year, Gold Medal
November 28th in Atlantic City, Mark Fraser vs. Jay Rosehill.
Smartass Little Brother Award:
A few of us have been calling Dan Kelly this for awhile. Battles for you on ice, has a sarcastic answer for everything off of it. From the bobblehead reveal in January to bowling with him in February, we could always count on the 5 time voted Defensive Player of the Year (by the Booster Club) and the Albany choice for the AHL Man of the Year. (If you happen to read this, I mean it as a term of endearment. Seriously. I do.)
Most Likely to be Found at a Thruway Rest Stop:
Given to Tim Sestito for being called up and sent down more times than necessary in a span of a week and a half.
Best Road Trip, Bronze Medal
February 27th in Syracuse, where the offense finally came alive in a much needed 7-6 win, only their second win in the month of February.
Best Road Trip, Silver Medal
April 17th in Wilkes-Barre. All they did was put a four-spot on the league’s Rookie and Goaltender of the Year and shut out the Penguins in another tough building.
Best Road Trip, Gold Medal
I had maintained for years that I would never, ever set foot in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for a “home” game. Well…this year things were different. I had the time to actually make the trip there, and ended up witnessing the first OT win by a Devil team in nearly three years (a 4-3 overtime win over Lehigh Valley on December 14th). And got a mini vacation on the Boardwalk as a nice bonus prize. Heck, I may even do it again next year if the opportunity arises…well, at least this time I’ll pick a hotel that’s not next to an abandoned casino.
And now time for my favorite Game Break! (The Rock as Darcy Zajac? Nope. But Channing Tatum as Corbin McPherson…where do I sign up as an extra?)
Now for a few thank yous:
-To my AHL friends, for the support and therapy sessions during the year (and for also making my first AHL All Star experience in Utica a lot of fun).
-To my New Jersey friends, for the support, the endless laughs, and also for the many therapy sessions during coaching changes, questionable callups, and goal droughts.
-To my friends at home for the help and keeping up with gameday habits like Moose calling and Instagramming certain announcers, among other things.
-Finally, to you the reader for following along and making me want to continue doing what I do!
Only a few months before Season 6 begins…that is, when the lease is finally signed.