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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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Week 24 Primer

Devils Quick Hits:

-Albany begins this week with a record of 27-24-5-6 and 65 points.  They stand in 4th place in the Northeast Division (8 points behind 3rd place Springfield) and 12th place in the Eastern Conference (tied with Lehigh Valley for 11th, 1 point behind 10th place St. John’s).

-Alexandre Carrier was reassigned to Orlando on Monday after not making an appearance since his recall on March 4th.

-On Tuesday, Joe Whitney was given a 2 game suspension as a result of his match penalty on Saturday against Syracuse.  He served the first game on Sunday and will only have to sit out today’s matchup.

3/18 & 3/21, Games #63 & 64 vs. Norfolk

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM 3/18, 5:00 PM 3/21.

Season Series: First two meetings of 4.  Future matchups: March 27 & 28 @ Norfolk

Standings:

Norfolk: 22-32-5-3, 52 points, 5th place in East Division, 14th in Eastern Conference

Admirals Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Chris Wagner, 27 points (14 G, 13 A); 2 players with 26 points

Jason LaBarbera, 7-12-6, 2.47 GAA; Ryan Faragher, 1-6-0, 3.19 GAA

Notes:

-It has not been a great season for the Admirals, who have seen a total of 49 different players dress for at least one game, including 6 goaltenders.

-Norfolk is in the middle of a seven game road trip, and have yet to see the win column, losing to Charlotte, Portland twice, and Providence.  They will make a quick trip west to Binghamton on Friday evening before coming back to Albany for Saturday afternoon.  They have not won since a 3-2 victory over Bridgeport on February 22nd.

-This is the last time Norfolk will visit the Capital Region, as they will be returning to the ECHL next season as Edmonton’s affiliate.  The AHL Ducks will be relocating to San Diego and become the Gulls.

-A special for Saturday, as it is Devils Fight Cancer Night.  There is a special $18 ticket special, with $5 from each ticket going to the Melodies Center.  There are also $10 autographed pucks available with all proceeds also going to the Melodies Center.

Listen: AHL Live, WHKT 1650 AM

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

3/22, Game #65 vs. Hartford

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Hartford leads 5-2.

Standings:

Hartford: 33-21-5-3, 74 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division, 7th in Eastern Conference

Wolfpack Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Chris Bourque, 53 points (24 G, 29 A); Oscar Lindberg, 40 points (19 G, 21 A); Danny Kristo, 37 points (18 G, 19 A)

Jeff Malcolm, 6-3-0, 3.32 GAA; Yann Danis, 11-12-3, 2.78 GAA

Notes:

-Hartford has been on a roller coaster during the past month, dropping 6 in a row (with one in overtime) before sweeping last weekend on the road.  They have jumped to second place in the division, just six points behind first place Syracuse.

-The Wolfpack are about to start their third straight 3 in 3 weekend, hosting Lehigh Valley on Friday and traveling to Springfield on Saturday before finishing the weekend in Albany.

-The second and final post game autograph session of the season follows Sunday’s contest.  It’s also Team Poster Day.

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports Radio 1410

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfPackAHL

 

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Week 23 Recap: The Defense Takes Over

After a good trip to Newfoundland, Albany started a season long six game homestand with a 3 in 3 weekend against teams all in the playoff picture, hoping to scrape away at their deficit to get back into the playoff picture.  But three goals and three out of six points later…nothing much gained.  And time is starting to run out.

Friday: Much earlier than I expected, but the first amateur tryout of the season has arrived, in the form of Brown University forward Matt Lorito.  He just completed his senior season with the Bears, scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 games while serving as team captain.  For his four year collegiate career, he has a total of 106 points (47 goals, 59 assists).  He was also a 2014 New Jersey rookie camp invitee.

3/13 vs. Worcester: 3-2 W

The homestand kicked off Friday evening with a visit from the Sharks, who began the evening just inside the playoff picture.  Albany got off to a great start in the first period, not allowing a shot on goal for nearly 9 minutes and taking a 1-0 lead on Paul Thompson’s 25th goal of the season.  Captain Rod Pelley would double the lead just after a power play opportunity ended.  But Worcester would mount a rally in the second period.  Just as their third power play would expire, Taylor Fedun cut the lead in half.  Later in the period, during a 4 on 4 opportunity that should not have been (what many in house thought was a dive was called a tripping penalty on Joe Whitney), Karl Stollery would tie the game up at 2.  But Albany took the lead back for good in the third thanks to Darcy Zajac’s 7th goal of the season, picking up their second straight win and extending their March point streak to 3 games.  Yes, it took just 3 games for Albany to match their entire win total for the month of February.  Scott Clemmensen played well in net, stopping 27 of 29 shots (you could probably credit 2 or 3 of those to Raman Hrabarenka, he was swatting pucks near the crease away quite a bit) and picking up win #6.  Zajac and Pelley also added assists, and Tim Sestito and Corbin McPherson had one helper each.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

3/14 vs. Syracuse: 2-1 L

21 hours later, Albany was back on ice, this time taking on the first place Crunch.  It appeared the Devils would get a break when former RPI goaltender Allen York drew the start instead of Kristers Gudlevskis (the Crunch are in the midst of a 3 in 3 weekend of their own).  After a relatively quiet first period, things would shift in favor of the Crunch in a big way in the second period.  Joe Whitney was called for a match penalty for cross checking Syracuse’s Luke Witkowski (I had my complaints about the call, but honestly from my angle in the corner it was hard to see the actual incident), giving the visitors a 5 minute power play.  And they would capitalize just 30 seconds in, as Jonathan Marchessault would score to break up the scoreless duel between York and Scott Wedgewood.  Albany just could not seem to get any breaks offensively, seeing at least 3 good scoring chances just miss the net or hit off the post.  Carter Ashton would score an empty netter with 18 seconds remaining to seal the win…and it was very fortunate that happened, because Raman Hrabarenka would break up York’s shutout bid with just 3.6 seconds left on the clock.  But it came too little, too late, as Syracuse won it’s 6th out of 7 matchups against Albany this season.  Wedgewood played very well in the loss, stopping 21 of 22.  David Wohlberg and Ben Thomson had the lone assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

3/15 vs. Springfield: 1-0 L (SO)

Without Whitney in the lineup due to automatic suspension from Saturday’s penalty, the Devils had to shake up the lines for their final game of the weekend against the Falcons, who began the day holding the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.  Kelly Zajac returned and was back on second line duty, while Chris McKelvie made his first appearance of the weekend, going in for Ben Thomson.  And even Joe Faust made an appearance, going in for Brandon Burlon.  Other than another mini scrum, nothing across in the first, as Albany outshot the visitors 11-4.  The Falcons woke up in the second and had 15 shots, but Scott Wedgewood stopped all of them.  The only thing stopping anyone?  A glass delay.  More scoreless hockey in the third, including some very good saves from Wedgewood.  But despite 14 shots, the Devils could not get anything at all past Falcons goaltender Scott Munroe.  It was on to overtime, where Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau had good shots at ending things, but still, nothing was getting by Munroe.  So finally things went to a shootout, where someone had to score to finish this epic goaltending duel.  Unfortunately only two Falcons, T.J. Tynan and Sean Collins were able to get the puck in net.  Paul Thompson and Mike Sislo had their chances, but couldn’t get the puck in, and Springfield earned the extra point.  It was the Devils sixth shootout loss and the sixth shutout of the season.  Wedgewood was the very hard luck but deserved much better loser in net, stopping all 33 shots in 65 minutes, but couldn’t finish it in the bonus round.

Highlights:

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Graham Black-Tim Sestito

Tim Sestito-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Joe Whitney, Cam Janssen, Ben Thomson, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Joe Faust

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon

Conference Standings:

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

8. Springfield–73 points

9. Worcester–70

10. St. John’s–66

11. Lehigh Valley–65

12. Albany–65

13. Binghamton–60

The magic number to clinch a postseason spot stands at 38, while the tragic number now sits at 24.  Again, this is if I did the math right.

Pop Quiz: Who holds the Albany AHL record for most wins in a season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well…since no video has surfaced as of yet from Sunday’s festivities…let’s go to the Devils vault.  Found this classic double feature from 5 years ago.

My Player of the Week: Tip of the cap to Scott Wedgewood, who despite going 0-1-0-1 on the weekend played brilliantly in net, stopping a total of 54 out of 56 shots.  If only his teammates could have scored more than one goal for him over those two games…

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (25)

Assists: Joe Whitney (26)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Graham Black (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (98)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (9)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.58)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.906)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 39 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -17, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 42 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 Pts, +7, 18 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 33 GP, 0 G, 9 A, 9 Pts, +3, 26 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, +3, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 17 GP, 8-5-0, 2.78 GAA, .904 Save Pct.

Injury Update: Since there’s no injuries to report…this will be more like a suspension update.  Cam Janssen finished serving his sentence on Sunday and is eligible to return on Wednesday.  Joe Whitney served one game after getting a match penalty on Saturday, but it is yet to be determined if he will have to sit out any longer.

This Week’s Schedule: The homestand continues with 3 more games.  Wednesday and Saturday the Devils play host to Norfolk, the last opponent Albany has yet to face this season.  Then Sunday afternoon they take on Hartford.

Pop Quiz Answer: The Albany goalie with the most wins in one season?  It was Peter Sidorkiewicz, who went 31-23-6 in 62 games played during the 1996-97 season.

 

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Week 21 Recap: Answering the Bell

We are entering the proverbial homestretch.  And it’s looking like the Devils are putting a disastrous February in the rearview mirror.  Four (which easily could have been six) out of six points on the weekend, including a much needed offensive breakout and the return of a key player to the lineup.

2/27 at Syracuse: 7-6 W

The road trip went back west on the Thruway to Syracuse, where for the second Friday evening in a row Albany visited the Crunch.  And for the first time in quite awhile, it was the Devils who got the offense started first.  On their first power play of the game, Mike Sislo continued his strong February with his 15th of the season for a 1-0 advantage.  Scott Timmins, in his first game back since December 7th, celebrated with a power play goal of his own 5 minutes later to double the lead.  But Syracuse would make things interesting, as Vladislav Namestnikov and Cody Kunyk would tie the game over a 5:02 span.  But just 20 seconds after the Crunch tied it, Sislo would score his second of the period to put the Devils ahead 3-2.  The scoring didn’t stop in the second, as Yanni Gourde would re-tie the game with a power play goal early on.  Kelly Zajac would put the Devils back ahead with his third, also a power play goal.  But the Crunch would take the lead with goals by Jonathan Marchessault and Kunyk in a 38 second span, chasing Scott Wedgewood from the net in favor of Maxime Clermont, making his first appearance since January 31st.  The goaltending switch seemed to help, as Clermont only had to stop 1 shot the rest of the second period.  But Albany was not done just yet, as they would tie the game up at 5 early in the third on a shorthanded goal by David Wohlberg.  Stefan Matteau would give Albany a 6-5 lead with the fourth power play goal of the night, then Darcy Zajac scored a very important insurance goal shortly after for a 7-5 lead, chasing Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis in favor of Allen York.  Marchessault would score his second of the night to get to within 7-6, but Clermont would shut them down the rest of the way, surviving a late 6-on-4 empty net penalty kill to seal the victory, the first against Syracuse all season and just the second victory in February.  Wedgewood stopped 10 of 15 before leaving in favor of Clermont, who picked up win #5 by stopping 10 of 11.  Eleven Devils had at least one point, with K. Zajac (one goal, two assists) and Seth Helgeson (three assists) leading the way.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Tim Sestito-Rod Pelley-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Graham Black, Ben Johnson, Ben Thomson

Defense:

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Dan Kelly

Reece Scarlett/Joe Faust

Extra: Brandon Burlon

2/28 at Hershey: 4-2 L

It was a long drive south down Interstate 81 to Chocolatetown, as the Devils faced Hershey for the final time this season.  Much like Friday night, it was Albany getting things going in the first period.  Joe Whitney scored his 18th late in the first period for a 1-0 lead, the first goal against Hershey goaltending since January 17th.  Albany had a season high 16 first period shots, while only allowing the Bears 6.  Sounds like a very promising start, right?  Well, it looked good going into the second, as Stefan Matteau would score his seventh just 46 seconds after the period got started for a 2-0 Devil lead.  Then…everything went downhill, thanks to a Bears record.  Tim Kennedy and Chris Conner would tie the game up midway through the second in about the same amount of time as literally blinking an eye…5 seconds.  Hershey also woke up during this period, outshooting the Devils 15-5.  The Bears would then pull away in the third, as Garrett Mitchell scored off a turnover in the Devils crease to take the lead.  Joel Broda would add an insurance goal with under 4 minutes remaining to seal it, giving Hershey a season sweep of the Devils.  Maxime Clermont lost his first decision of the season, stopping 22 of 26 shots.  Dan Kelly contributed two assists, while Tim Sestito had one helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

David Wohlberg-Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson

Extra: Ben Johnson, Kelly Zajac, Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

3/1 vs. Binghamton: 4-3 W (OT)

With February finally over, it was back to the Capital Region for the first time since February 15th, as Albany played host to the Senators for the first time all season, and first since an embarassing 7-0 defeat back in November.  On Binghamton’s first power play of the game (and a questionable one at that), Cole Schneider scored for an early 1-0 Senators lead.  Paul Thompson would tie it up late in the period with his team leading 24th goal, then Darcy Zajac would follow with a tip in 3 and a half minutes later to put the Devils ahead 2-1.  Tim Sestito would give the hosts a two goal cushion just before the second period expired on a power play.  But Binghamton would not go away quietly.  Buddy Robinson would put the Senators to within one on a questionable goal call (it was believed a high stick may have been involved, but the referees still allowed it).  Then just four seconds after Albany killed off a 5 minute major by Cam Janssen for a check to the head call, Carter Camper would tie the game up at 3.  But Albany got a golden opportunity late in the third and going into overtime after Schneider was called for a delay of game.  And they capitalized…Mike Sislo would score the game winner just 33 seconds into overtime to give Albany their second win of the weekend.  Scott Wedgewood rebounded nicely from Friday’s game, stopping 24 of 27 shots and winning his first game since January 29th against Lehigh Valley.   Joe Whitney and Raman Hrabarenka each had two assists, while four other Devils each had a helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Ben Johnson, Graham Black, David Wohlberg, Ben Thomson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

Sunday: A few hours after the game, it was quietly announced that Scott Clemmensen was reassigned to Albany.  Looks like Keith Kinkaid is ready to go come Tuesday.  Clemmensen was recalled Monday but never saw any playing time.

Monday: Not surprisingly, with Clemmensen returning Maxime Clermont was sent back to Orlando.  But he’s not going down alone, as forward Ben Johnson was also reassigned.  Clermont made two appearances, one in relief and one start, and went 1-1 since being recalled on Thursday.  Johnson has not played since February 15th, and has been a healthy scratch for a majority of the season.  He has one goal and one assist in 25 games.

Conference Standings:

It’s March, so it’s time to bring back where the Devils stand for playoff positioning!

8. Providence–66

9. Portland–64

10. St. John’s–62

11. ALBANY–59

12. Lehigh Valley–57

13. Binghamton–52

So…thanks to the disaster that was February, Albany has some catching up to do to get near that 8th playoff spot.  The magic number to clinch is at 46.

Pop Quiz:  Who holds the individual Albany AHL record for most goals in a season?  Answer upcoming.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Waiting for the video to surface…as always stay tuned.

My Player of the Week:

With another strong weekend, Mike Sislo capped off a very successful February with the game winner to kick off March.  9 of his 17 goals this season have all come after the All Star Break.  Honorable mention to Stefan Matteau for a good offensive showing over the weekend as well.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (24)

Assists: Joe Whitney (26)

Points: Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (96)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (8)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.75)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.900)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 33 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 35 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 Pts, +5, 11 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 27 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, +1, 18 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 10 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -1, 24 PIM

Injury Update:

With Scott Timmins returning on Friday night, everyone on the roster short of illness is now healthy.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s a quick two game road trip this week: the Devils will fly to The Rock.  Well, not that quick, and not that Rock. Friday and Saturday evening they will face St. John’s in a two game set, their first visit since being eliminated from the first round of the playoffs back in May.

Pop Quiz Answer: So who holds the Albany record for most goals in a season?  It was Jeff Williams, who in the 1998-99 season had a breakout year offensively, scoring 46 goals for the River Rats.  And he was only the third leading scorer…John Madden lead the way that season, with 98 points.  The Lowell/Albany record holder is Chris Minard, who had 32 in the 2006-07 season.

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Week 21 Primer

Devils Quick Hits:

-Albany begins the week with a 23-22-4-5 record and 55 points.  They stand in 4th place in the Northeast Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference.  Looking at the first Playoff Primer of the season, released last night, the boys have some work to do to catch up.

-With Scott Clemmensen staying up top with the parent Devils to backup Cory Schneider this weekend, Maxime Clermont was summoned back from Orlando yesterday.  With another 3 in 3 weekend looming, I would not be surprised to see him get at least one start.

2/27, Game #55 at Syracuse

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter, Syracuse, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Syracuse leads 5-0.

Standings:

Syracuse: 32-14-8-0, 72 points, 1st place in Northeast Division, 1st place in Eastern Conference

Crunch Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Jonathan Marchessault, 43 points (13 G, 30 A); Yanni Gourde, 40 points (19 G, 21 A); 2 tied with 32 points

Kristers Gudlevskis, 17-8-2, 2.70 GAA; Allen York, 1-0-1, 4.23 GAA

Notes:

-After a disastrous Valentines week, the Crunch rebounded nicely with a 3 game sweep of last weekend’s games, catapulting them to the top of the league standings.  A one goal loss to Rochester has them tied with Oklahoma City for the league’s best going into this weekend.

-Tonight marks the start of a 3 game homestand for the Crunch, who host Utica on Saturday and Portland next Friday.

-Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made a one game appearance on Wednesday after coming down from Tampa, only to lose 4-3 to Rochester before being recalled.

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Watch: TWC Sports is carrying the game (Albany channel 50/323).

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch, @syrhockey, @CrunchSyracuse, @Allovimo

2/28, Game #56 at Hershey

Where: Giant Center, Hershey, PA.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Hershey leads 3-0.

Standings:

Hershey: 32-14-5-2, 71 points, 1st place in East Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference

Bears Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Tim Kennedy, 44 points (5 G, 39 A); 2 tied with 37 points

Philipp Grubauer, 21-10-4, 2.11 GAA; Pheonix Copley, 9-3-3, 2.15 GAA

Notes:

-Hershey is riding a modest 2 game winning streak heading into a 3 in 3 weekend of their own, traveling to Binghamton on Friday and hosting Lehigh Valley on Sunday afternoon.

-Things got a little heated on Saturday night against Bridgeport…as a result, forward Liam O’Brien was suspended for 3 games, the last one coming on Saturday.

-At the start of the weekend, the Bears sit just one point behind Syracuse for 1st in the conference (and first overall in the league).

Listen: AHL Live, The Ticket 1460 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheHersheyBears, @ChocHockey, @timleone

3/1, Game #57 vs. Binghamton

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Binghamton leads 1-0.

Standings:

Binghamton: 22-25-5-1, 50 points, 4th place in East Division, 13th in Eastern Conference

Senators Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 tied with 42 points

Peter Mannino, 3-7-2, 3.78 GAA; Scott Greenham, 10-6-2, 2.51 GAA

Notes:

-After hosting Hershey on Friday evening, the B-Sens embark on a 4 game road trip, starting in Lehigh Valley on Saturday before coming to the Capital Region on Sunday.  They finish the trip in Norfolk the following weekend.

-2015 has not been kind to Binghamton, as they have had two separate 5 game winless streaks since the start of the calendar year and have fallen to the bottom of the East Division standings, tied with Norfolk for last place.

-Albany returns to home ice for the first time since February 15th.  After only having two home games for all of February, the Devils will have 7 of their next 11 games at the Times Union Center.

Listen: AHL Live, US 96.9 FM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @BSens_Hockey

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Week 20 Recap: Streak’s Over, But…

Another 3 in 3 weekend has come and gone, and the February struggles continue.  But at least there was finally a win, and maybe some signs of life, albeit too late, in another game.

Friday: With most everyone back healthy and in the lineup, Mike Keenan and Alexandre Carrier were reassigned to Orlando.  Keenan started out on a PTO in early December and played himself into an AHL deal.  In 20 games he had one assist and finished a -3.  Carrier appeared in 12 games and was scoreless, but did have two fights against former Devils (PL3 and Matt Corrente) under his belt.

2/20 at Syracuse: 3-1 L

The road trip began west down the New York State Thruway, as Albany made its third visit of the season to the Oncenter to take on the Crunch, who was also in the midst of a 5 game winless streak (but had three OT loss points to show for it).  Yanni Gourde would get the hosts on the board first with a tip in past Scott Wedgewood midway through the first period.  Jonathan Marchessault would double the lead early in the second period when he managed to drag the puck past Wedgewood and into the net.  But there was good news this period…an actual power play goal from Albany!  Kelly Zajac finally scores his first of the season to cut the lead in half.  But that would be as close as they would get, as Vladislav Namesntnikov would capitalize on a turnover and score alone on a breakaway to make it 3-1, pushing the losing streak to six games.  Wedgewood stopped 21 of 24 shots, including a few spectacular saves, but it was not enough as he took his 12th loss of the season.  Paul Thompson and Brandon Burlon had helpers, while Cam Janssen returned to the lineup for the first time since mid January.

Highlights:

Lines:

Paul Thompson-Tim Sestito-Stefan Matteau

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Chris McKelvie

Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extra: Scott Timmins, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg, Ben Thomson

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

2/21 at Utica: 2-1 W

The middle game of the weekend saw the Devils make their only visit of the season to Utica to take on the Comets.  Utica got on the board first midway through the opening period on a Brandon DeFazio goal.  Albany caught a break later when a second Comets goal was disallowed due to an offsides call.  And that would be a game changer…Ben Thomson would tie the game up at 1 late in the second period with his 7th of the season.  Reece Scarlett would break the tie early in the third with his second of the season.  Despite being outshot 10-4 in the third, Albany would manage to hold on for the win, breaking a 6 game losing streak and extending their win streak against Utica to 6 games.  Scott Clemmensen picked up his 5th win and first since beating Bridgeport in Newark exactly one month earlier, stopping 31 of 32 shots.  Thomson and 3 other Devils each had assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Ben Thomson*

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen*

Extra: Scott Timmins, Stefan Matteau, Ben Johnson, Darcy Zajac

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

*Since I was in New Jersey and didn’t see the game, the last two lines are at best a guess.

2/22 at Springfield: 4-2 L

17 hours and about 160 miles later, it was off to western Massachusetts to finish off the weekend against the Falcons.  And Springfield got things going in a hurry, as Thomas Larkin scored 42 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.  Then with Mike Sislo sitting 4 minutes on a questionable spearing call, Sean Collins would double the lead.  Brian Gibbons, just recently reassigned by Columbus to the Falcons, would score his second of the year on a power play early in the second for a 3-0 advantage.  But the Devils were not about to go away quietly, as they made an attempt to rally in the third.  Raman Hrabarenka and Kelly Zajac would score on back to back power plays 1:16 apart late in the third to get to within one goal.  But Gibbons would put an end to the comeback with his second power play goal of the game for a 2 goal lead.  Then at the final whistle…

A total of 80 combined penalty minutes were handed out as a result, mostly game misconducts from abuse of officials.  Albany reached two season highs: penalty minutes (77) and shots (41).  Scott Clemmensen started in back to back games and stopped 17 of 21 shots.  Four different Devils had assists.

Highlights:

(sadly the video cuts out just the end of game festivities were starting)

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Ben Johnson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Monday: With Keith Kinkaid getting injured halfway through Saturday’s win over Carolina at The Rock, Scott Clemmensen was recalled to New Jersey to play door man…er, back up Cory Schneider under emergency conditions.

Pop Quiz: Who holds the Albany AHL record for most penalty minutes in one season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

YouTube has seriously been dropping the ball lately.  Two good candidates but no video up.  You could always just review the Utica game tape for Dan Kelly avenging Raman Hrabarenka’s absence from the lineup…

My Player of the Week:

Very happy to finally see Kelly Zajac get on the board twice this weekend.  It’s been a lost season for the third Zajac brother, good to see him back and contributing.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (24)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (41)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (94)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (7)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.75)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood/Scott Clemmensen (.900)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 33 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 32 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts, +6, 11 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -2, 2 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 23 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, Even, 16 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 12 GP, 6-4-0, 3.63 GAA, .877 Save Pct.

Injury Update:

Last one standing is Scott Timmins (lower), he is expected to return this weekend.  Darcy Zajac did sit out Saturday and Sunday, not sure if injury related or not.

This Week’s Schedule:

As if the month of February wasn’t already punishing…another 3 in 3 weekend to close the month out is up next.  Friday it’s one last visit to Syracuse to take on the now league leading Crunch.  Saturday they travel south on Interstate 81 to pay Hershey one last visit.  Then the month of March kicks off on home ice, as Binghamton visits for the first time all season.

Also back next weekend: conference seeding updates!

Pop Quiz Answer: The man with the most penalty minutes in one season while wearing an Albany uniform?  It was Matt Ruchty, who set the record during the  River Rats Calder Cup winning 1994-95 season with 348 minutes.  Pierre-Luc Leblond holds the Lowell/Albany franchise record with 334 in the 2010-11 season, incase anyone was wondering.

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Week 19 Recap: Getting Frigid

The February flop continues.  3 games, 3 days, 3 straight losses.  But at least players are getting healthy…and someone other than Mike Sislo can score a goal.  Baby steps!

Friday: Albany is back down to two goaltenders on the roster as Maxime Clermont was reassigned to Orlando.  He did very well since his recall on Christmas Eve, going 4-0 with a 1.94 GAA and a .921 save percentage.  He is also the only goalie to win a shootout this season.

2/13 vs. Hershey: 1-0 L

After a 7 day layoff, it was back to work to start a 3 in 3 weekend, hosting the Bears on home ice.  The game marked the return of four players from injury: Raman Hrabarenka (out since late November), Graham Black (out since early January), Kelly Zajac, and Rod Pelley.  And Tim Sestito was back skating after a scary moment last Friday in Springfield.  It was a relatively uneventful first period…Albany outshot Hershey 12-8 and managed to kill off a 5 on 3 Bears power play chance.  Albany had a golden opportunity to get on the board early in the second thanks to a full 5 on 3 power play early in the second.  But the special teams continued their recent struggle, not getting anything past Bears goaltender Philipp Grubauer.  Stanislav Galiev finally broke the scoreless tie 13 minutes into the second period for a 1-0 Bears lead.  Albany tried to get the equalizer, but simply could not get anything past Grubauer, and were shut out for the 5th time this season.  Scott Wedgewood was feeling like Cory Schneider in net, playing very well but getting stuck with the loss, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  The Devils also amassed a season low 4 penalty minutes, all in the first period.

Highlights:

Lines:

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Paul Thompson (personal), Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

2/14 at Hartford: 5-2 L

It was off to Connecticut’s state capital for the first time since December as Albany kicked off a Valentine’s home and home weekend series with the Wolfpack.  Mike Sislo finally broke a cold spell for the special teams play, scoring on a power play in the first to get the Devils on the board.  With Joe Whitney serving a cross check call (one of 5 Devil penalties called in the first alone), Rod Pelley became the first Devil other than Sislo to score a goal in February, getting one shorthanded for a 2-0 lead.  But all those calls would catch up to Albany, as the Wolfpack got on the board late in the first with a Chris Mueller power play tally.  Hartford would tie the game up midway through the second on a Danny Kristo goal.  The game stayed tied and very tight…until 5 minutes left in the third period, when everything for the visitors would just fall apart.  During a full 4 on 4, Tyler Brown and Mueller would score 18 seconds apart to give the Wolfpack their first lead of the night.  Kristo would add an empty netter with 1:15 remaining for the exclamation point, giving Albany their fourth straight loss.  Up until that last 5 minutes, Scott Clemmensen played great in net, but would get tagged with the loss in stopping 26 of 30 shots.  Darcy Zajac had the lone helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

2/15 vs. Hartford: 4-3 L

Roughly 17 hours after the final horn in Hartford, the two teams resumed the home and home series, this time in the Capital Region.  Hartford got on the board twice in a 13 second span in the first, as Danny Kristo and Conor Allen each scored on Scott Wedgewood for a 2-0 lead.  Mike Sislo would continue his hot February with his 13th goal less than 3 minutes later to cut the lead in half.  But Ryan Bourque would restore the two goal lead just over a minute after that.  Paul Thompson would score his 23rd (and first goal since January 24th) to make it a 3-2 game.  Albany thought they tied the game early in the third, but after a video review it was believed the shot off Seth Helgeson’s stick hit the iron.  But Sislo would come through again, tying the game up with his second of the day.  Just as it looked like this game could go into overtime…not to be.  Chris Mueller would score the game winner with 3:47 remaining in regulation, giving Hartford the weekend sweep and extending Albany’s losing streak to 5 games.  Wedgewood stopped 19 of 23 shots in taking the loss.  Joe Whitney added two assists, while Kelly Zajac and David Wohlberg each had a helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Ben Johnson-Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Graham Black, Reid Boucher, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Pop Quiz: What is the Albany AHL record for most times shut out in a season?  Stay tuned for the answer.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

One fight, but no video proof.  Stay tuned…

My Player of the Week:

Apparently again Mike Sislo seems to be the only goal scorer this month, adding three more to his season total and moving up the franchise career list.  He is now tied with Tim Sestito for second with 59, but it may take awhile to catch Joe Whitney, with 80 and counting.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (23)

Points: Joe Whitney (40)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (89)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (7)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.79)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.900)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 33 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 28 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts, +8, 11 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 10 GP, 5-4-0, 3.69 GAA, .874 Save Pct.

Injury Update: After the weekend, only two remain on the indefinitely list: Scott Timmins (lower) and Cam Janssen (upper).

This Week’s Schedule:

The month of February is not going to get any easier for this group, as they begin a 5 game road trip, starting with another 3 in 3 weekend.  Friday night they travel to Syracuse to take on the suddenly slumping Crunch.  Saturday night they make their one visit on the season to Utica to face the Comets.  Then a quick turnaround and back east to Springfield on Sunday afternoon to face the Falcons.

And I will be making my return to New Jersey for the Carolina game on Saturday!

Pop Quiz Answer: The record for most times shutout in a season?  It’s the 2003-04 River Rats, who were shut out 13 times.  The top 5 leading scorers that year, incase you’re wondering: Craig Darby (69 points), Steve Kariya (48), Joe Hulbig (45), Jiri Bicek (30) and Tuomas Pihlman (29).  Remember them?  The Lowell/Albany franchise record stands at 8, the 08-09 Lowell Devils and in 2012-13.  Fun fact: the 09-10, 98-99, and the Calder Cup winning 94-95 teams were only shut out once the entire regular season.

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