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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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Week 1 Recap: Holy First Impressions!

Now this is how you start a season!

10/11 at Adirondack: 5-1 W

Chapter 3 of the Albany-Adirondack rivalry (well, not so much as the early Rats-Wings days of the mid 90s) kicked off Saturday night in Glens Falls as the Devils opened the season against the Flames, coming off a rough loss in Rochester the night before to start their first season in the North Country.  The newest Devil, Paul Thompson, scored the first goal of the season 7 minutes into the first for a 1-0 lead.  And he was just getting started.  Thompson scored a power play tally early in the second period to double the lead.  Brett Kulak would cut the Devils lead down to 1 with a power play goal of his own.  But in the third, Thompson would not only complete the hat trick, he would add a fourth goal for good measure just 3:47 apart to put the game away for the visitors.  Stefan Matteau would add his first goal of the year with just over 4 minutes to go to seal the win.  Keith Kinkaid earned his first win in net, stopping 34 of 35 shots.  Joe Whitney would assist on 3 of Thompson’s goals, while four other Devils contributed assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

I was not on hand for the game, but from what I could see in the highlights and box score this is what I was able to piece together (those on hand can correct me):

Paul Thompson-Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Rod Pelley-Stefan Matteau-Steve Bernier

Tim Sestito-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Ben Thomson, Ben Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Peter Harrold

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Pop Quiz: Who was the last A-Devil before Paul Thompson to score 4 goals in a game?  Answer at the end of this post.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No gloves dropped or faces punched last night.

My Player of the Week:

Scoring 4 goals in your debut makes it a slam dunk decision.  Who else but Paul Thompson?

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (4)

Assists: Joe Whitney (3)

Points: Paul Thompson (4)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+3)

Penalty Minutes: 3 tied with 2

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (1)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (1.00)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.971)

Notes:

-For the second straight season, Rod Pelley is the captain.  Tim Sestito and Mike Sislo sported the A’s.  Not sure if the assistant captains are all games or if there is a rotating home/away assignment.

This Week’s Schedule:

A home and home series with Bridgeport awaits.  Friday night the Devils make their first of 5 visits to southern Connecticut.  Saturday it’s back on home ice for the first time since the playoff run at the end of April.

And the Photo Gallery returns next Sunday!

Pop Quiz Answer: Prior to last night, Bobby Butler was the last A-Devil to score four goals in a game, accomplishing the feat on December 12, 2012, in a 6-3 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Times Union Center.

 

 

 

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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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Second Round (and other News)

I had expected another round of cuts before Wednesday, but not this soon.

Four more players were reassigned to Albany just after New Jersey’s morning skate in preparation for tonight’s preseason home opener against the Flyers: goaltender Scott Wedgewood, defensemen Corbin McPherson and Renat Mamashev, and forward Joe Whitney. Add that to yesterday’s cuts and you’ll pretty much have a full team roster ready to start Albany camp (presumably) tomorrow.

One news item that I missed yesterday: back on September 16th the radio schedule for the season was announced…and much like the last four seasons it’s on local ESPN affiliate 104.5 WTMM, but with just half the schedule (because the Jets and every other sport are much higher on the totem pole here, as usual). The station is streamed through the RadioPup mobile app, but your best bet outside the Albany/Schenectady/Troy area is tuning in to the AHL Live feed.

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Holiday Weekend Updates

After a relatively quiet August…it’s my second post this week!  Just a few notes to pass on before I can finally start enjoying my Labor Day weekend:

-After only returning to Albany on an AHL only contract in 2013-14, Dan Kelly was signed to a new 2 year, 2 way contract yesterday.  He set career highs in games played (71), points (17), and plus/minus (+13), while appearing in one playoff game.  He also was Albany’s selection as the AHL’s Man of the Year for his work in the community. The Lowell/Albany all time plus/minus leader at +36, he is one of just 3 Albany regulars (Tim Sestito and Darcy Zajac the others) remaining from the first Devils season of 2010-11.

-Per Fire and Ice, captain Rod Pelley will be returning on a 2 way deal (no terms given), while David Wohlberg, who was a restricted free agent, receives a one year AHL deal.  In his second tour of duty with the organization, Pelley appeared in 74 games and scored 20 points (13 G, 7 A), and appeared in all four playoff games.  Wohlberg had a strong second full season, appearing in 62 games and scoring 12 points (5 G, 7A), played in one playoff game, and was chosen as Most Improved by the coaching staff at the annual Booster Club awards banquet.

The final Free Agent Tracker of the offseason will be out Monday at around noontime.

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There’s Actual News!

We interrupt a lovely summer day with…actual updates!  To get caught up:

-Two more restricted free agents have re-signed with New Jersey:

In a move that some found, well, interesting, Brandon Burlon was signed a 2 year, 2 way contract.  The defenseman has yet to play more than 57 games since turning pro in 2011, mostly because of the logjam of prospects in the organization (Gelinas, Merrill, Larsson to name a few).  He did manage to set a career high in goals this past season with 5 in 54 games, while mostly being used in even strength and power play situations.  Unless Dan Kelly re-signs, he will be the most experienced A-Devil defenseman to return this season in terms of years played.

Also returning is forward Scott Timmins, signing a 1 year, 2 way contract.  Acquired in late September from Florida for Krys Barch, Timmins was a pleasant offensive surprise from the start.  In his fourth pro season, he set a career high in points with 39 (13 goals and 26 assists) in 70 games (he did miss time due to a knee injury in November/December).

The updated free agent tracker will be out on Friday at noon.

-And the first preseason game has been announced, via Lehigh Valley, who announced their full preseason schedule earlier today.  The Devils will travel southwest to the new PPL Center on Saturday, October 4th for a 7 PM faceoff.  Hopefully the first of many game announcements to come (one local game other than in Adirondack would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath).

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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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