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Week 17 Recap: Sliding into the Break

Good news this week: the Devils would receive reinforcements from New Jersey as the NHL started their All Star break.  Bad news: Only two would play.  And the month of January would end with a 3 out of 6 point week and a major injury as the AHL All Star break gets underway.

1/27 vs. Hershey: 3-2 W (OT)

Matt Lorito

Matt Lorito

The homestand continued on Wednesday, as the Bears made their only visit of the season to the Capital Region.  Among those in attendance: former Calder Cup winning Rat Bryan Helmer, now an assistant coach; former River Rat goalie Justin Peters, serving as backup to Dan Ellis (of escrow/#DanEllisProblems fame); and some guy named Gomez, I think he’s played in the NHL before?  Anyway…with Matt Lorito and Reid Boucher returning to the lineup, the Devils got off to a good start in the first period.  On the Devils first power play of the night, Mike Sislo would pick up his 17th goal (and league leading 12th power play goal) for a 1-0 lead.  Scott Wedgewood only had to face three Hershey shots…but on one of those shots he would dive and land on his right shoulder, shaking him up.  He would stay in after being checked out.  The Devils would continue to dominate in the shot department, outshooting the visitors 12-5 in the second, but on one of those 5 shots late in the period Erik Burgdoerfer would tie the game up (with an assist by that Gomez guy).  Midway through the third, Wedgewood would go down again on his right side, and this time he would have to leave the game, bringing Yann Danis in from the bullpen to finish things up.  The Bears would grab a lead late on a Riley Barber goal, and it looked like the Devils were on their way to a sixth straight loss, and the Bear domination would continue.  But not so fast.  With Danis pulled for an extra skater, Raman Hrabarenka would score his first of the season with just 1:16 to go in regulation to tie the game at 2.  It was on to overtime, where on the first shot taken by either side, Reid Boucher would knock it past Ellis for the winner, and a five game losing streak was over.  Danis picked up win #17 in relief, stopping 5 of 6 shots in about 10 minutes worth of work.  Wedgewood had stopped 12 of 13 before exiting.  Sislo and four other Devils each had assists.

Remember me?

Remember me?

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Jim O’Brien-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Ryan Kujawinski-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Paul Thompson, Chris McKelvie, Reece Scarlett, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 11.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

Thursday: It appears that Wedgewood will be out at least a month with a shoulder injury, so…Ken Appleby to the white courtesy phone, please.

1/29 vs. Utica: 4-3 L (OT)

Welcome aboard Ken Appleby!

Welcome aboard Ken Appleby!

The five game homestand came to a close on Friday, as the Comets came calling.  After killing off an early 5 on 3 (that really never should have been called in the first place, but that’s just me), Albany was on the board first thanks to a Reid Boucher power play goal, his 16th tally of the season.  The Comets would tie it early in the second with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Mike Zalewski (if the name sounds familiar…he is an RPI alum and the younger brother of Steve).  In the third, while killing off another questionable call, a shot from the corner from Jordan Subban found its way past Yann Danis to put Utica ahead 2-1.  But just as fast, Boucher would strike again with his second of the night to tie it up at 2.  Then again, just as fast, an all alone Andrey Pedan would put the Comets ahead 3-2.  Then for the second straight game, late heroics would come through again for the home team.  With 1:59 to go and Yann Danis ready to exit for the extra attacker, Brian O’Neill would score his 4th to tie it up at 3, sending the Devils to their second straight overtime.  But this time around wouldn’t end so well, as Zalewski would strip the puck from Marc Andre Gragnani and score the game winner just 46 seconds in to give the Comets their second straight all time win over the Devils, and in turn end a somewhat mediocre 1-2-2 homestand.  Danis would stop 25 of 29 shots.  Birthday boy Jim O’Brien had two assists while O’Neill and three others had helpers.

Vojtech Mozik

Vojtech Mozik

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ryan Kujawinski

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Chris McKelvie, Reece Scarlett, Scott Wedgewood, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 25.  Shots Allowed: 29.

Highlights:

1/30 at Bridgeport: 4-1 L

It was off to southern Connecticut to finish out the weekend, as the Devils made their first visit of the season to Bridgeport.  Another first on this night–Ken Appleby drew his first AHL starting assignment.  And it would be a learning experience for the young netminder.  Mike Halmo would open the scoring for the hosts midway through the first.  Carter Verhaeghe would double the lead late in the period.  Halmo would strike again early in the second for a 3 goal deficit.  It would take till late in the third period for any signs of life from the offense…and even then it came from Dan Kelly.  He would complete 2/3rds of the Gordie Howe with his third goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-1.  But Halmo would finish off the hat trick with an empty netter to seal the victory for the Sound Tigers.  It wasn’t the greatest of debuts for Appleby, who got no support in stopping 18 of 21 shots.  Ben Thomson and Paul Thompson had the lone assists.  As for special teams?  Good: Perfect 4 for 4 on the kill.  Bad: 0 for 8 on the power play.  If it was the power play of, say, late November/early December, this game could have ended a lot differently.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Corey Tropp-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Ken Appleby/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Reid Boucher, Raman Hrabarenka, Scott Wedgewood, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 0 for 8.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 17.  Shots on Goal: 25.  Shots Allowed: 21.

Highlights:

At press time, no video was available anywhere.  Not that there was anything to see here…

My Player of the Week:

I had the winner pegged before Saturday’s game even got started.  Hope everyone enjoyed seeing Reid Boucher light it up Wednesday and Friday, because come next week you’ll likely only see him wearing the NJ on his chest the rest of the season.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Reid Boucher/Mike Sislo (17)

Assists: Matt Lorito (25)

Points: Matt Lorito (35)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+21)

Penalty Minutes: Ben Thomson (67)

Wins: Yann Danis (17)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.67)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.932)

The Vault:

Oh do I have a good one this week.  Since we have reached All Star weekend, let’s revisit the 2007 classic in Toronto.  You may know quite a few names.

Up North with the Thunder:

After a 3-2 OT loss in Manchester on Sunday, Adirondack returned home on Friday sans Ken Appleby and split a 2 game series with Reading.   On Friday the Thunder shut out the Royals 3-0, with Greg Wolfe scoring twice and Joe Faust contributing an assist.  Reading returned the favor on Saturday with a 3-2 win.  The Thunder return to action on Friday, as they start a two game home series against Norfolk.

This Week’s Schedule:

While Mike Sislo and Yann Danis are in Syracuse, everyone else gets a nice five day breather.  But it’s back to work with a pair of games starting on Friday night in Providence, then back home to face Hartford Saturday afternoon.

And guess who else will be in Syracuse…me!  Making my second consecutive trip to AHL All Stars, I will be on hand both nights, so stay tuned for photos and other fun stuff, with a full recap coming either Tuesday or Wednesday.

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 17

Quick Hits:

-Albany begins the week on a 5 game losing streak (0-3-2-0), their record 23-11-6-0…good for 52 points and a .650 percentage.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 18 points behind first place Toronto.

-With two defensemen out sick, Marc Andre Gragnani was recalled under emergency conditions on Tuesday, and Sergey Kalinin was sent down as a paper transaction to make room.  But Gragnani never got in to New Jersey’s 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh, as both Adam Larsson and David Schlemko were able to play.

-And with New Jersey starting its All Star break last night…Gragnani, Seth Helgeson, Reid Boucher and Joe Blandisi were all sent down Wednesday morning, with Kalinin being recalled.

-Injury update: Matt Lorito (ankle) is expected back in the lineup this week after sitting out both St. John’s games on Friday and Saturday.  Max Novak (hand/ankle) is doubtful.

Wednesday, 1/27 vs. Hershey

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: First meeting of 2.  Future matchup: March 26th @ Hershey

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 22-13-2-6, 52 points, .605 pct, 3rd place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Chris Bourque, 42 points (20 G, 22 A); Paul Carey, 29 points (13 G, 16 A); 2 with 26 points; Dan Ellis, 13-6-3, 2.59 GAA; Justin Peters, 9-6-5, 2.99 GAA

Notes: The Bears spent the weekend snowed in, as 30 inches of snow in the area postponed games on Saturday (rescheduled for Monday) against the Phantoms and Sunday vs. the Sound Tigers; Hershey has won 4 of their last 6, including a shutout against Binghamton on Friday; former Devil Scott Gomez signed a pro tryout on January 15th and has a goal and 4 assists in 4 games; defenseman Connor Carrick and forward Chris Bourque are the Bears All Star representatives; the Bears lead the league in shootouts with 8, going 2-6 with the most recent loss to Lehigh Valley on Monday in the makeup game from Saturday.

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports 1460

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheHersheyBears

Friday, 1/29 vs. Utica

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 3-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 18-17-3-3, 42 points, .512 pct, 5th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Hunter Shinkaruk, 31 points (16 G, 15 A); 2 tied with 21 points; Richard Bachman, 7-7-3, 2.54 GAA; Joe Cannata, 10-9-2, 2.65 GAA

Notes: The Comets have dropped their last two after being swept by the Marlies in Toronto over the weekend, being outscored 11-3 in the process; forward Darren Archibald will miss Friday’s matchup after being suspended one game by the AHL on Monday for a boarding call in Sunday’s game; the Comets host Rochester on Saturday before starting the All Star break.

Listen: AHL Live, K-Rock 94.9 FM

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @UticaComets, @CometsInGame

Saturday, 1/30 @ Bridgeport

Where: Arena at Harbor Yard, Bridgeport, CT.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Tied at 1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 20-19-2-1, 43 points, .512 pct, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Joe Whitney, 33 points (14 G, 19 A); Bracken Kearns, 32 points (13 G, 19 A); Taylor Beck, 19 points (11 G, 8 A); Christopher Gibson, 11-8-3, 2.36 GAA; Jean-Francois Berube, 1-1-0, 2.30 GAA; Parker Milner, 1-2-0, 3.05 GAA

Notes: Like the Bears, the Sound Tigers full weekend slate was snowed out, their last game an overtime victory over St. John’s at home on Wednesday; they host Springfield on Wednesday and travel north to Hartford on Friday; Joe Whitney is out for the remainder of the season after getting injured on January 15th, yet still leads the team in scoring and is still in the league top 20…he had been selected as one of two Bridgeport All Star representatives (the other defenseman Ryan Pulock).

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheSoundTigers, @fornabaioctp

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Week 16 Recap: Halted at Home

When you’re on an 11 game winning streak at home and about to start an extended homestand, one would think only more good things are to come.

But when you can only support your goaltending with just 5 goals in 3 games…it can end up disastrous.  The only good thing the Devils can take out of a 1 out of 6 point week is not losing their position in the division.

1/20 vs. Hartford: 3-2 L (OT)

Ben Thomson

Ben Thomson

It was back home on Wednesday as Albany kicked off a 5 game homestand against the Wolfpack, looking to extend their home winning streak to 12 games.  After a relatively quiet first period that saw Albany outshoot their visitors 12-5 (significant considering what happened Saturday in Utica…it took more than two-thirds of the game for the Devils to even get that many shots), the Wolfpack got on the board twice in a 5:18 span against Scott Wedgewood.  Nicklas Jensen would score just 31 seconds into the period, followed by Ryan Bourque.  Those two goals came on just three Wolfpack shots for the period (ouch).  But the Devils fourth line would get the home team back in the game late…a pair of goals by Ben Thomson 3:01 apart would tie things up heading into the third.  Despite Albany outshooting Hartford 12-4, nothing would come across on either side, and it was off to overtime for the second straight game and third time in four games.  Just as it looked like the Devils would finally be going to their first shootout of the season…Chad Nehring would get the puck past Wedgewood with just 32.6 seconds to go in overtime, stopping Albany’s home win streak at 11 (but to put a positive spin on it, extending the point streak to 12).  Outside of the second period, it wasn’t all bad for Wedgewood, as he stopped 14 of 17 shots.  Three different Devils each had helpers.

Matt Lorito

Matt Lorito

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Corey Tropp-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Ryan Kujawinski

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 17.

Highlights:

Friday: Just before morning skate, forward Ben Johnson was recalled from Adirondack.  In 12 games with the Thunder he scored 3 goals and assisted on 3 others.  And with New Jersey down to 5 defensemen before heading to Winnipeg and Pittsburgh, Seth Helgeson was recalled under emergency conditions.

1/22 vs. St. John’s: 4-2 L

Scott Wedgewood

Scott Wedgewood

Without Helgeson or Matt Lorito in the lineup (due to an ankle injury suffered on Wednesday) the Devils pressed on, starting a two game set with John Scott and the IceCaps.  Things looked back to normal for the Devils in the first, as they outshot the visitors 11-4 and Jim O’Brien, who took Lorito’s first line spot, picked up his 8th goal of the season.  But St. John’s would turn the tide in the second…in a span of 40 seconds, they would tie it, only to lose the lead to O’Brien’s second goal, then tie the game up once again.  But while on a 5 on 3 penalty kill, Charles Hudon would find the back of the net for a 3-2 IceCaps lead.  In the third, Albany only allowed one shot on goal to St. John’s…but that shot would take an extremely lucky bounce off of Sven Andrighetto and cross the goal line, giving the IceCaps an insurance goal.  Albany would put up just seven shots in the third but could not make the comeback, extending the winless streak to four games.  Yann Danis had one of those unlucky/want those back nights, stopping 13 of 17.  Mike Sislo, who was questionable after leaving Wednesday’s game, did play and managed the lone assist.

Corbin McPherson

Corbin McPherson

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Ryan Kujawinski-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Graham Black-Ben Johnson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Paul Thompson (vet), Matt Lorito

1/23 vs. St. John’s: 2-1 L

Mike Sislo

Mike Sislo

About 17 hours later, time for the rematch.  This time Scott Wedgewood would man the net, and he got off to a good start, stopping all 11 IceCap shots in the first period.  But he would run into trouble in the second, as Gabriel Dumont would put the visitors on the board first.  A late power play goal by Sven Andrighetto would double the deficit.  But early in the third Albany would show some sign of life, as Vojtech Mozik would score on a power play to cut the lead to 2-1.  Despite a rush of shots late in the game, the Devils just could not get the equalizer, and the IceCaps would sweep the two game series, pushing the Devils losing streak to 5.  Wedgewood took a hard luck loss in net, stopping 20 of 22 shots.  Reece Scarlett and Ryan Kujawinski had the lone helpers.

It's not everyday you get to see the captain of the NHL Pacific Division All-Stars...

It’s not everyday you get to see the captain of the NHL Pacific Division All-Stars…

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Ryan Kujawinski-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Johnson

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Reece Scarlett

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Matt Lorito, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Corbin McPherson

Power Play: 1 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 23.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 22.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

With two goals each this week, I’ll split the award between Ben Thomson and Jim O’Brien.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (16)

Assists: Matt Lorito (23)

Points: Matt Lorito (33)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+19)

Penalty Minutes: Ben Thomson (62)

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.72)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.933)

The Vault:

Back to 2011, when Brian O’Neill was the captain at Yale…and that hair…

Up North with the Thunder:

It was a record setting beginning of the week for the Thunder…but then things went downhill after that.  The goaltending tandem of Ken Appleby and Kent Simpson set a new ECHL record on Monday, going 251:51 without giving up a goal.  After a 1-0 shutout in Elmira Sunday, Adirondack would defeat Reading 3-1 as Appleby stopped 43 of 44 shots.  Ben Johnson would score his third goal of the season.  Friday in Glens Falls Greg Wolfe would score his seventh, but the Thunder would drop a wild 6-5 shootout to Manchester and former Devil PTO Doug Carr.  On Saturday in New Hampshire, Appleby would drop a 2-1 decision, stopping 34 of 36 shots, while Wolfe assisted on the lone Thunder tally.  After one more matchup in Manchester Sunday afternoon, Adirondack starts a six game homestand, starting with a pair against Reading on Friday and Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

A busy three game week heading up to the end of January and the All Star break.  Wednesday, Hershey (and Scott Gomez) will be making their lone visit to the Capital Region this season.  Friday the 5 game homestand wraps up with a visit from Utica.  Then it’s southeast to Bridgeport on Saturday evening to face the Sound Tigers.

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 16

Quick Hits:

The Devils begin the week with a 23-9-5-0 mark, good for 51 points and a percentage of .689.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 13 points behind first place Toronto.

The injury list is growing smaller, with Brandon Burlon (lower) expected to return to the lineup this week.  Max Novak was forced to return earlier than expected due to callups.

Just announced: After sitting as a healthy scratch since his recall on Friday, Brian O’Neill has been sent down by New Jersey.

Wednesday, 1/20 vs. Hartford

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 2-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 19-19-2-0, 40 points, .500 pct, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Chad Nehring, 25 points (12 G, 13 A); Marek Hrivik, 21 points (6 G, 15 A); Ryan Bourque, 20 points (8 G, 12 A); Magnus Hellberg, 13-10-2, 2.57 GAA; Jeff Malcolm, 4-3-0, 2.28 GAA

Notes: The Wolfpack come in on a 5 game winning streak, including a 3-2 overtime win in Providence on Monday; this is the 4th of a 5 game road trip that ends on Saturday in Bridgeport; this is the Wolfpack’s first visit to the Capital Region this season, the final two games of the series are all in Albany.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfpackAHL

Friday & Saturday, 1/22 & 1/23 vs. St. John’s

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM Friday, 2:00 PM Saturday.

Season Series: St. John’s leads 2-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 17-14-5-3, 42 points, .538 pct, 4th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Bud Holloway, 35 points (11 G, 24 A); Michael McCarron, 27 points (13 G, 14 A); Charles Hudon, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Eddie Pasquale, 5-3-2, 3.09 GAA; Zachary Fucale, 9-8-2, 3.19 GAA

Notes: After finishing a 1-5 homestand, the IceCaps are on the road for their next 6 games, starting in Bridgeport on Wednesday; their lone victory last weekend was Sunday afternoon against Toronto; forward John Scott, who was famously voted an NHL All Star captain (and will be allowed to do so in Nashville next weekend), was acquired by Montreal from Arizona and assigned to St. John’s on Saturday; defenseman Mark Barberio, who has been on recall to Montreal since December 27th, was named an AHL All-Star, along with rookie Michael McCarron; busy Saturday downtown: it’s Rod Pelley bobblehead day and a hockey doubleheader, with RPI-Union playing in the nightcap.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @IceCapsAHL

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Week 15 Recap: Shutout to Soul Crushing

The Devil week started out very promising, then…everything came crashing down, so to speak.  A 3 point out of 6 week, depending on the schedule and/or the opponent, can either be positive or…so much more.  The latter would fit this week.

1/13 vs. Rochester: 4-0 W

Seth Helgeson

Seth Helgeson

The week began with a visit from Rochester…and former Calder Cup winning goaltender Robin Lehner, down from Buffalo on a conditioning stint.  And it was the most unlikeliest of players who got the home team on the board first…on a deflection in front, what looked like a goal from Corey Tropp was actually credited to Pierre-Luc Leblond, who scored his first in over a calendar year for the 1-0 lead.  Matt Lorito would double the lead with his 9th late in the second period.  Then Albany would put the game away in the third, as Brian O’Neill (3rd) and Reid Boucher (14th on a power play) would score 6:17 apart.  And Scott Wedgewood would take care of the rest, as he stopped all 19 Amerk shots to pick up his first shutout of the season and his fifth straight win, and Albany picked up their 11th straight win on home ice.  Mike Sislo added two assists, while O’Neill and three other Devils each had helpers.

Celebrating 11 in a row!

Celebrating 11 in a row!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Ryan Kujawinski-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 9.  Shots on Goal: 39.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

Thursday: Good news for Albany’s roster crunch, as Paul Thompson was sent down to make room for Tuomo Ruutu’s return from injured reserve.  In his first NHL stint, he appeared in 3 games without getting a point.

Friday: More roster maneuvering: Jim O’Brien and Marc Andre Gragnani were sent down, but in their place Reid Boucher and Brian O’Neill were recalled, joining the parent club in Arizona.  O’Brien and Gragnani appeared in 4 games each, but with no points.

1/15 at Providence: 5-2 L

With a depleted forward corps, it was due east to Providence to take on the Bruins, who came into the night with a 9 game home winning streak of their own.  Seth Helgeson would get the visitors on the board first with his second goal of the season in the first.  Chris Casto would tie things up during the second.  Early in the third, Noel Acciari’s 5th goal early in the third would put the Bruins ahead 2-1, but 27 seconds later Matt Lorito’s 10th goal of the season would quickly re-tie the game.  Then late in the period Providence would shift it into high gear…on the Devils second too many men call of the game, Alexander Khokhlachev would score on the ensuing power play to break the tie.  Just over a minute later, he would assist on a Brandon DeFazio goal for a 2 goal cushion.  And to finish it off, an empty netter by Seth Griffith with one minute remaining, handing the Devils their first regulation loss of 2016, snapping their point streak at 8.  Yann Danis stopped 34 of 38 shots.  Lorito and three other Devils each had assists.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Corey Tropp

Ryan Kujawinski-Graham Black-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Blake Pietila-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre Luc Leblond

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Marc Andre Gragnani

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 39.

Highlights: Video here via AHL Live.

1/16 at Utica: 1-0 L (OT)

Raman Hrabarenka

Raman Hrabarenka

To finish off the week, it was back to Utica for the second time in 17 days, as the Devils looked to extend their all time winning streak against the Comets.  And from the beginning, it appeared Utica did not want to see that happen.  It took Albany a majority of the first period to even get one shot on goal, while the Comets peppered Scott Wedgewood with 17 of them.  But no one was able to score.  In the second period, more of the same…Devils did manage to get six shots while Wedgewood stopped all 10 he saw in the middle 20.  A repeat of the same in the third…only six more Devil shots (when they actually could manage to get in the offensive zone that is), while Wedgewood was practically standing on his head in stopping all 13 Comet chances.  Even with a 3 on 3 overtime, early on neither side could break through.  But finally, with 1:55 standing between the Devils and their possible first shootout of the season…heartbreak for Wedgewood, as the Comets 44th shot of the game off the stick of Carter Bancks made it in, earning Utica the OT win and breaking the winless curse after 10 all time meetings.  Wedgewood deserved so much better in stopping a career high 43 shots, but the rest of the team had nothing to show for it.  The Devils actually had more penalty minutes (18) than shots (14), but special teams did manage to kill off all 6 Utica power plays.

Marc Andre Gragnani

Marc Andre Gragnani

The Lineup:

Jim O’Brien-Ryan Kujawinski-Corey Tropp

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Max Novak-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Reece Scarlett, Pierre Luc Leblond

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 18.  Shots on Goal: 14.  Shots Allowed: 44.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

Scott Wedgewood is the obvious choice this week…63 saves on 64 shots over two games, including his first shutout of the season and seemingly being the only player to show up Saturday night.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (16)

Assists: Matt Lorito (23)

Points: Matt Lorito (33)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+20)

Penalty Minutes: 2 tied with 60

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.53)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.944)

The Vault:

Before he was a Devil…Chris McKelvie was a fighting Whale.

Up North with the Thunder:

A good week for Adirondack as they picked up back to back shutout victories over Norfolk on Tuesday and Reading on Saturday.  Greg Wolfe picked up an assist in Tuesday’s 1-0 win.  Ken Appleby stopped all 36 Royal shots on Saturday to pick up his 13th win and 3rd shutout of the season.  Joe Faust scored his second goal of the season on a power play while Wolfe added another assist.  The Thunder hit the road for four of their next five, starting in Elmira on Sunday afternoon before heading to Reading on Monday.  After a home game Friday with Manchester, they then head to New Hampshire for an additional two game set with the Monarchs on Saturday and Sunday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Good news for Albany…it’s the beginning of a 5 game homestand.  On Wednesday Hartford finally makes their first visit of the season.  Then St. John’s comes in for a two game set on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Also coming up this week…the halfway point of the schedule. Look for a first half numbers wrapup on Thursday.

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Week 14 Recap: Almost Another Lucky Seven

Four forwards lost to New Jersey, leaving just the bare minimum of skaters needed.  A 3 in 3 weekend.

No problem for these Devils, who extended one win streak, had a second one snapped, and saw a lot of goals cross the line.  The result?  Five out of six points and a stranglehold on second place in the division.

 1/8 vs. Syracuse: 6-4 W

Joe Blandisi

Joe Blandisi

Back on home ice for the first time in 2016, the Devils faced off against the Crunch for the fourth time this season.  Well, namely former first round pick Jonathan Drouin, who was making his 15-16 Crunch debut after being sent down by Tampa Bay the weekend before.  But it would be another recent send-down that would make the first move…just 12 seconds into the second Devil power play of the game, Mike Sislo would score his league leading 10th power play goal (14th overall) for a 1-0 lead.  But Drouin would not be denied, as he scored a pretty goal less than two minutes later to tie it up.  But just as quickly, Corey Tropp would score his 9th for a 2-1 advantage.  With less than a minute to go in the first period, it would be Drouin again tying the game up.  In the second, there would be a goalie switch due to illness (Kristers Gudlevskis would leave early in favor of Adam Wilcox) and Rod Pelley (with his 3rd of the season) and Syracuse’s Jeff Tambellini would trade goals midway through the period to keep the game deadlocked going into the final stanza.  In the third, Tambellini would score his second to give the Crunch a 4-3 lead.  But the home team would come through in the clutch, as Sislo’s second power play goal of the night and a tally by Matt Lorito just 1:04 apart would put Albany back on top.  Reid Boucher would score into an empty net for the icing on the cake, clinching the Devils’ 9th straight home ice win and 5th straight win overall.  Yann Danis stopped 19 of 23 shots and picked up win #16.  Joe Blandisi would contribute 3 assists, while Reece Scarlett had two helpers of his own.

It's a captains duel!

It’s a captains duel!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Joe Blandisi-Corey Tropp

Graham Black-Blake Pietila-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Max Novak, Blake Coleman, Ryan Kujawinski

Power Play: 2 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 21.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 23.

Highlights:

Saturday: With another forward in New Jersey (this time Jiri Tlusty) going down with an injury, Joe Blandisi was recalled for the second time this season, and just in time for a 4 game road swing for the parent club.

1/9 vs. Lehigh Valley: 4-2 W

Blake Pietila

Blake Pietila

Less than 24 hours later…back at it, as the former Northway rivals the Phantoms made their only visit to the Capital Region all season.  With three forwards on recall to New Jersey, someone else had to step up offensively…who knew it would be Seth Helgeson?  His first goal of the season came halfway through the first period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.  Joe Rehkamp would tie the game up for the visitors early in the second period.  After that, the top power play in the league would take over once again.  Just eight seconds after the first power play of the day began, Blake Pietila would score his 6th of the season to put Albany ahead 2-1.  Then on a 5 on 3 advantage late in the period, Brian O’Neill would score his second of the season for a 3-1 lead.  Mike Sislo would add on to the lead early in the third with his 16th of the season.  The Phantoms would cut the lead to 4-2, but were shut down the rest of the way.  With New Jersey GM Ray Shero in attendance, Albany would take their 10th straight on home ice and 6th in a row overall.  Scott Wedgewood won his fourth straight start in net, stopping 26 of 28 Phantom shots.  Reece Scarlett would recover from a bout in the first period that saw him miss 17 minutes, but he still managed two more assists.  Sislo and Matt Lorito also had two helpers.

Hockey Hugs after a job well done!

Hockey Hugs after a job well done!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Corey Tropp

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 2 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 23.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 28.

Highlights:

1/10 at Hartford: 4-3 L (OT)

It was back to the Connecticut state capital for the second time in 8 days, as Albany made its final visit of the season to Hartford to face the Wolfpack.  And just like last Saturday, the Devils would find themselves in a hole in the first…Marek Hrivik would score 5 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.  But on a very pretty goal later in the period, Corey Tropp’s tenth of the season would tie it up.  Dan Kelly would break the tie early in the second period with his second goal of the season…but Hartford would answer midway through the period and tie it up on a Chris McCarthy tally.  The seesaw battle would tip back into the Devils favor late in the second on a power play goal by Ryan Kujawinski for a 3-2 lead.  But once again the Wolfpack would answer and early in the third, Josh Nicholls would tie it up with his first professional goal.  That would be one of just two Hartford shots given up by Albany for the final 20 minutes.  The game would get to overtime, but it didn’t last very long…former Union captain Mat Bodie would score the winner on the first shot taken 19 seconds in to give the Wolfpack the win and halt the Devils win streak at 6.  Yann Danis would stop 15 of 19 shots.  Reece Scarlett would have another two assists, while three other Devils each had helpers.  And not one Devil would serve time in the penalty box, as only two minors were called the entire game, both on Hartford.

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Corey Tropp

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 1 for 2.  Penalty Kill: None.  Penalty Minutes: 0.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

There were several deserving candidates for this honor…but I’m going to split it between Mike Sislo and Reece Scarlett, who both had 6 point weekends.  Scarlett doubled his season total for points in one weekend, which is quite impressive.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (16)

Assists: Matt Lorito (22)

Points: Matt Lorito (30)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+19)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (60)

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.89)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.927)

The Vault:

With narration by Doc and Chico and a cameo appearance by David Clarkson, we’re going back to 2008 and one of many PL3 classics…considering his opponent is now a Phantoms assistant coach, it’s a perfect tie-in for this week.

Up North with the Thunder:

Not a bad week for Adirondack, as they took 2 out of 3 on home ice.  In a 5-2 win over Manchester on Wednesday, Alex Carrier would score his 3rd goal of the season, while Greg Wolfe contributed one assist.  Carrier would assist on the lone goal Friday in a 5-1 loss to South Carolina.  Ken Appleby returned to the net Saturday and picked up a 4-2 win over the Stingrays, stopping 22 of 24 shots, with Carrier assisting on a late empty netter.  The homestand continues on Tuesday when Norfolk comes to visit, followed by Reading on Saturday before traveling to Elmira on Sunday afternoon.

This Week’s Schedule:

A three game in four day week awaits.  Wednesday the Devils return home to take on Rochester.  Then it’s on the road for Friday and Saturday: Friday night in Providence for the second time this season, then back to Utica on Saturday to face the Comets.

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 14

Quick Hits:

The Devils begin the first full week of 2016 with a 20-8-3-0 record, good for 43 points and a .694 percentage.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 13 points behind first place Toronto.

Injury update: All should be available for the weekend with the exception of Blake Coleman (shoulder) and Max Novak (hand).

Congrats to Mike Sislo (1st) and Yann Danis (3rd) on being named to represent the Eastern Conference/North Division at the AHL All-Star Classic!  Full rosters can be found here.  Other Devil/River Rat notables named? Joe Whitney (Bridgeport/Atlantic), Matt Taormina & Mike Angelidis (Syracuse/North), and Michael Leighton (Rockford/Central).  Former Devils captain Jay Leach will be coaching the Atlantic Division group, representing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

BREAKING: New Jersey’s morning skate had quite a few new faces with injuries hitting the big club. Sislo was sent down, while Mike Cammalleri and Tuomo Ruutu were placed on IR. In their place? Paul Thompson, Jim O’Brien and Marc Andre Gragnani were summoned, with Thompson looking to make his NHL debut tonight.

Friday, 1/8 vs. Syracuse

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 3-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 14-13-5-1, 34 points, .515 pct, 5th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Jeff Tambellini, 21 points (12 G, 9 A); Anthony DeAngelo, 20 points (3 G, 17 A); Tye McGinn, 19 points (12 G, 7 A); Kristers Gudlevskis, 6-6-1, 2.48 GAA; Adam Wilcox, 2-3-4, 3.40 GAA

Notes: The game will mark the season debut for former first round draft pick Jonathan Drouin, reassigned to Syracuse by Tampa Bay on Saturday; former River Rat and Crunch captain Mike Angelidis was named one of the playing captains for the AHL All Star Classic on Tuesday; Syracuse is coming off a sweep at the hands of the Marlies last weekend, including an overtime loss and overcoming a 0 shot second period in Sunday’s game; the Crunch are also kicking off a 3 in 3 weekend, returning home on Saturday to host Hershey before traveling to Rochester Sunday afternoon.

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch

Saturday, 1/9 vs. Lehigh Valley

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 1-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 17-16-2-1, 37 points, .514 pct, 5th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Nick Cousins, 29 points (8 G, 21 A); Petr Straka, 25 points (17 G, 8 A); Andrew MacDonald, 22 points (5 G, 17 A); Anthony Stolarz, 12-7-3, 2.18 GAA; Jason LaBarbera, 4-7-0, 2.91 GAA

Notes: The Phantoms are coming off a split with Portland in Maine last weekend; forward Sam Gagner, loaned to Lehigh Valley by the Flyers on December 30th after not being claimed on waivers, has one assist in 3 games; Petr Straka leads the AHL in goals; this is the lone road game for a 3 in 3 weekend for Lehigh Valley, as they host Wilkes-Barre on Friday night and Binghamton Sunday afternoon; Anthony Stolarz and Nick Cousins are the All Star representatives for the Phantoms.

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports 1470

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @LVPhantoms

Sunday, 1/10 @ Hartford

Where: XL Center, Hartford, CT.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 2-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 14-18-2-0, 30 points, .441 pct, 7th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Chad Nehring, 23 points (12 G, 11 A); 2 tied with 16 points; Magnus Hellberg, 8-10-2, 2.73 GAA; Jeff Malcolm, 4-2-0, 2.18 GAA

Notes: This game marks the last of a 5 game homestand for the Wolfpack, who are 0-2 after losing to Albany and Wilkes-Barre last weekend; like all Devils opponents this weekend, Hartford has a 3 in 3 weekend, hosting Springfield on Friday and Bridgeport on Saturday; second leading scorer Jayson Megna was recalled to the Rangers on Monday; the crease is a little more crowded with goaltender Cedrick Desjardins being recalled from a stint in Manchester on Wednesday; defenseman Ryan Graves is the lone Hartford All-Star representative.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfpackAHL

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