Up North With The Thunder…So Far

What used to be a small paragraph at the end of every weekly recap is now going to become a (mostly) weekly column!

So…what have our friends up in the North Country been up to this offseason?  Quite a lot, actually.

The biggest news actually came back in late February, when the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, a locally based ownership group, bought the franchise from Calgary, who had brought the team to Glens Falls prior to the 2014-15 season as an AHL franchise from Abbotsford.  The Flames, as they were known, then became part of the AHL west migration, and in turn Calgary’s ECHL team in Stockton would move in to the Civic Center to take its place, and was subsequently rebranded as the Adirondack Thunder.

With local ownership in place, the Coalition began the Keep Hockey Here  initiative, holding numerous fundraisers in the Glens Falls area to do just that.  A recent silent memorabilia auction called Raise the Rink brought in just over $25,000, and the coalition has a dodgeball tournament and a document shredding event scheduled for later in July.

On Tuesday, the Glens Falls Civic Center officially became the Cool Insuring Arena, a name that will stay in place for the next five years.  This is the first name change for the Civic Center, which has been open since 1979.  Cool Insuring is a local insurance agency established by the first mayor of Glens Falls, Charles Cool, back in the late 1870s, and has offices in nearby Queensbury and in Latham (just north of Albany).

As for on-ice?  There’s going to be a new look there as well.

The Thunder are currently without an NHL/AHL affiliation, as Calgary and Stockton have teamed up with the Kansas City Mavericks.  They are one of just three ECHL franchises (Tulsa and Fort Wayne the others) not affiliated.  The other NHL/AHL partnerships without ECHL affiliates, if one wanted to speculate: Ottawa/Belleville, Florida/Springfield (although they sent players to Manchester last season), Arizona/Tucson, St. Louis/Chicago, Tampa Bay/Syracuse, and New Jersey/Binghamton, who while in Albany had a “handshake” agreement to send players north.  No word yet on whether that partnership will continue with the relocation.

Eight Thunder players have already moved on to other teams:

-Defenseman Alex Wall signed with Frisk Asker (Norway)

-Defenseman Roman Dyukov joined Dinamo Minsk (KHL)

-Forward Greg Wolfe signed with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway)

-Forward Cullen Bradshaw joined Kallinge/Ronneby IF (Sweden Div. 1)

-Forward Dennis Kravchenko stayed in the ECHL and signed with Fort Wayne

-Forward Brock Montgomery signed on with Tilburg (Germany)

-Defenseman Stepan Falkovsky signed with the Kings

-Defenseman Keegan Kanzig was traded to Carolina as part of the Eddie Lack deal.

As far as this year’s roster?  So far two players have signed on for the 2017-18 season:

First to sign is a returnee from last year’s team, second year pro Kevin Lough.  He appeared in 51 games for the Thunder during his rookie season, putting up 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists).  He also made one appearance on a PTO with Binghamton late in the season.

Second is forward Terrence Wallin, who split last season between Adirondack and Rapid City.  After two scoreless appearances with the Thunder in October, he spent the majority of the year with the Rush, picking up 31 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 47 games.

Then there’s the schedule.  It’s a very…interesting one.

Unlike the AHL, where all teams play each other an even number of times at home and on the road, the ECHL has an unbalanced slate.

For example, the Thunder will play the newest ECHL team, Worcester, 12 times.  The Railers go to Glens Falls 7 times, but Adirondack only goes to Massachusetts 5 times.  Same with Manchester: seven trips to New Hampshire, but only 5 home matchups with the Monarchs.

Also unlike the AHL (well, with the exception of the Pennsylvania teams this season), the Thunder will see opponents outside the Northeast corridor, with three Midwestern teams–Quad City, Fort Wayne, and Toledo–being first time opponents.

The longest homestand will be seven games, from November 25th-December 15th.  That follows the longest road trip of the season, a brutal 12 game swing from October 29th-November 24th that sees the Thunder go to 9 different cities.

 

The Next Chapter Begins…Now.

After a two month sabbatical…I’m back.

And we are switching gears.

First, the color scheme…old school black and white.  Kind of like a classic newspaper look.  And topped off with part of the Herb Brooks Miracle on Ice speech (photo taken by me during my trip to Lake Placid last year).

Second…what am I writing about?

Instead of focusing on just one team…I’m taking on five teams.

Five, you ask?

The five teams that are minor league professional in the state of New York: Adirondack, Syracuse, Utica, Rochester, and Binghamton.

Yes, I said Binghamton too.  But more on that later.

Since I couldn’t make up my mind on exactly where I wanted to go for the 2017-18 season…why not split it up amongst a few cities and be more objective than just a fan blog?

My goal now is to have a space where the reader can keep up with the teams of New York State.  I have been on a state tourism kick in recent years…I’m probably on the I Love New York site at least once every other week looking for new places to visit.  And…maybe some travel related stories thrown in too, kind of like a fan’s guide to each city.  For those who have known me for awhile, you know how I do my trips…have to hit other spots too!

Obviously, I may be going to certain arenas more often than others due to distance, but I will try my best to cover everyone equally.  I may be a little more in depth with Adirondack due to the Thunder being the closest.  In fact, I plan on a Thunder article before the week is out.

I’m sure you’re asking, but you said over and over again you didn’t want to ever set foot in Binghamton.  Well…I’ve had an epiphany.

You know how there’s 5 stages of grief?  This move saw me go through all of it:

Denial: That was back in January when the rumors first started.  No way.  Why would you leave Albany for a smaller market?

Anger: The initial press conference comments completely set me off.  And even up to a week or so ago, I still was angry about it.

Bargaining: Maybe all those sales pitches I got from other teams were this?

Depression: With every schedule hint and opponent list released, it made me sad not to see Albany listed anywhere.

Acceptance: Finally, after a few days to soul search (and now with the AHL schedule out)…

I’m done with being angry about the situation.  It’s hard to continue to hold a grudge when in reality I don’t have a problem with 90% of the people there, potential players included.  Does it still hurt?  Absolutely.  But…I have made a personal decision to drop the resentment and move on.  What’s done is done, and I may not have to like it, but I have chosen to accept it.  In fact…I may even be willing to go to a game there at some point.  (Which means I may have to delete all those #NotMyDevils tweets now…)

I’m hoping to do at least one article a week, maybe two.  We’ll see how my work/travel schedule and news works out.

Anyway…it’s good to be back in the saddle!

One Girl’s Journey…

May 10, 1995.

That’s the day everything began.

It was late in the school year, my junior year at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany.  During a lunch break, there was an announcement about discounted River Rats playoff tickets for high school students.

Sure, I knew who the River Rats were, thanks to a friend who had season tickets with her parents.  I knew they played downtown at the Knickerbocker Arena, a building I barely went to other than my mother getting Knicks preseason tickets (stop laughing).  I would sometimes watch the pregame show Fox had on back in the NHL on Fox (never forget the Glow Puck!) days, where John Hennessy, the radio voice of the River Rats at the time, would have players on for interviews.

I came home from school with my team photo and flier, and pretty much made my mother go with me that night.  We got seats in row DD (I can’t remember the section number), which I didn’t know till I got inside was four rows from the glass.  I remember watching the Rat players skate around during warmups and instantly finding a favorite…hey, that’s Mike Dunham from the pregame show!

I even won a prize in a special student drawing, and went on the ice during an intermission to choose a mystery envelope…it was a Walkman (yes, I am showing my age here), while the kid standing next to me won the grand prize, a night in a suite for 20.  The Rats didn’t win that night, but to 16-year-old me, it didn’t matter.  I was hooked on River Rat hockey.  I still remember watching on TV the night the Rats would finish off Fredericton in Game 4 of the Calder Cup finals just a couple of weeks later…and throwing a fit when my mom wouldn’t let me go to the parade (single mom rules…if she doesn’t want to go, you’re not going either) downtown a couple of days later (luckily my Math 12 teacher did attend and filled me in…and showed off her autographed towel).

Naturally, I had to be at the 1995-96 home opener that October.  Of course Mom waited till the last minute to get tickets, and we were in the upper deck (you know, back in the day when the upper sections didn’t need the black curtains) by the press area as the Calder Cup was lowered from the ceiling, and the red championship banner went up.  Sitting upstairs that night did have one perk…I got to meet Corey Schwab, who drove north from New Jersey where the parent Devils had an afternoon game earlier in the day, and was standing near my seat.  He signed my program and talked to me for a couple of minutes.

As I got older, the involvement increased…a handful of games turned into going every other weekend, joining the Booster Club, venturing out on the road, and finally, full season tickets once I was out of college.  There was a few years stretch where because of my insane work schedule I didn’t go a whole lot, but eventually, I found my way back to full time status.

I even got some college credit as a result of my fandom…for the first three months of the 1999-2000 season, my final year at The College of Saint Rose, I worked as an intern in the Rats front office, helping with press packets, scout passes, working at the fan relations table, and I even got to wear the iconic Rowdy costume a few times at a couple of school functions.

22 years and thousands of games attended later since that night…this book is closing.

I find it hard to believe that for more than half my life, I’ve been involved in Albany AHL hockey.  So many life milestones…graduating high school, getting my degree from Saint Rose, losing my mom to cancer, moving around the Capital Region, real world jobs…but the River Rats, and later the Devils, were always my steady presence.  Now…how to best fill that void?

So many players, so many names to remember that came through this area that started their professional careers.  I can turn on a random NHL game and probably know a few names that either suited up for the Rats/Devils or I saw play as opponents.

I’ve been through a lot with this journey…that lone Calder Cup just weeks after I got started, the Red Wings days, the lean early 2000s where wins were few and far between, saying goodbye to New Jersey the first time around and saying hello Carolina, five overtimes, the Mass Pike bus accident, saying goodbye to the Rats as they moved to Charlotte, figuring out the second New Jersey coming, more lean times, finally getting back to the playoffs.  Now I’m saying goodbye for a 3rd time.

Before hockey, I had a very limited social circle (it’s what happens when you’re an only child and you stay inside a lot.  And not talk a lot to others…okay fine my social skills were very limited).  Now, some of my best friends I’ve met have been because of this sport.  I’ve seen kids grow up, others get married and start families, and sympathized as some lost loved ones along the way, including alumni (Coach Cunniff, Peter, Alex, Dave, and Sasha…you are all missed).

I could say the same about the players that have come through here too.  I still remember Patrik Elias coming here as a 19 year old in his first North American season, before he became a legend in New Jersey.  I’ve seen players start out as young party types grow up and become family men, go on to have long careers.  And even if I haven’t seen a player in years, they still remember who you are.

When the Devils returned in 2010, I had no idea that just practicing how to use my BlackBerry at a preseason game in Glens Falls would launch another phase of fandom.  Or a possible new career.  Writing was something I’ve always loved doing since I was about 7 years old…since I wasn’t much of a talker back then, it’s how I communicated best.  I thought that would be my future career when I chose to be a communications major at Saint Rose…either writing for a newspaper or maybe doing books.  I kind of lost that career track, but starting this blog was a way to get me back in the game, so to speak.  Especially when it’s a topic you really couldn’t find much news on (good old Lou keeping everything under wraps!).

Thanks to these teams, I went to cities I probably never thought I’d get to see, from as far north as Glens Falls (never made it to Portland or Manchester), as far south as Norfolk, as far east as Providence, and as far west as Rochester.  And in between: Syracuse, Binghamton, Utica, Springfield, Worcester, Hartford, Bridgeport, Lowell, Wilkes-Barre, and even Atlantic City.  (Still have to get to Hershey…Allentown was for All Stars but I wouldn’t mind a return trip.)

So what does the future hold?  Where will I be?

My heart is still with the AHL.  It’s the only hockey I’ve known for 22 years.  I can’t see myself walking away from it.  Since I refuse to set one foot in Binghamton (unless a certain person in their hierarchy apologizes for more or less treating us Albany fans like we don’t exist…he knows who he is), I’ll most likely be splitting my time between Springfield and Utica, with at least one or two visits to a few other arenas (i.e. Syracuse, Rochester, Hartford, one of the PA teams schedule permitting).  I’ll also be making a few visits to Adirondack as well, since they’re really the only game in town in the winter. We’ll see what non-hockey life allows me to do.

As for New Jersey…you may have screwed me over with the minors, but I just can’t quit the NHL on ice product.  I still plan on at least one or two trips to The Rock next season to visit everyone.  I’ve made so many friends over the last seven years I just can’t walk away.  And I’d miss the snark too much.

Even though I won’t be covering the Devils prospects on a full time basis anymore, I still want to see them do well.

Thank you all for following along this journey with me…and stay tuned as I decide what to do next.

 

Devils Season 7 Year in Review, Part 2: Fun with Numbers

Welcome to Part 2 of the Year in Review.  And now, time for some random numbers!

3: Shootout wins and also shootout losses.

1: Penalty shot awarded, to Joe Blandisi on November 11th vs. Hershey (and it was a goal).

4: Penalty shots against–12/17 vs. Toronto (stopped by Ken Appleby); 1/7 vs. Lehigh Valley (stopped by Appleby); 3/24 vs. Utica (Carter Bancks scored on Mackenzie Blackwood); and 3/31 vs. Providence (Sean Kuraly scored on Blackwood).

49: Major penalties, second in the league behind Syracuse (51).

8: Overtime wins.

40: Times when Albany would score first in a game.

27: Wins against North Division opponents.

0: Losses against Hartford, the only team Albany swept in the season series.

0: Wins against Lehigh Valley, the only opponent the Devils went winless against.

6: Wins against St. John’s, the most over one opponent.

11: Shorthanded goals for and against.

66: Goals scored in the first period, the best.

78: Goals allowed in the second period, the worst.

6: Wins when trailing after two periods.

21: 1 goal wins.

5: Goals in the 2nd period in a 6-2 win over St. John’s on January 4th, tied for a league high.

11: Shots allowed against Hershey in a 6-3 win on November 11th, a league low.

41: Players that made at least one appearance.

4: Goaltenders used in at least one game.

15: Players that made at least one appearance with both Albany and New Jersey.

16: Rookies that made at least one appearance.

6: Players that made at least one appearance with both Albany and Adirondack.

42: Saves by Mackenzie Blackwood in his professional debut, a 4-3 overtime win against the Bruins on October 23rd.

5: Longest win streak, from October 14th-23rd.

2: Seconds left when Mackenzie Blackwood gave up the winning goal to Erik Condra of Syracuse in a 3-2 loss on November 19th.

1533: Low mark for attendance, a 6-1 win against Syracuse on February 15th.

7250: High mark for attendance, a 5-3 loss against Rochester on January 28th.

10897: Biggest crowd, for a 3-1 win in Providence on October 14th.

7: Most goals scored, vs. Binghamton on December 21st (7-1 win at home)

6: Most goals allowed, on four occasions (11/18 & 2/4 at Binghamton, 2/12 at Toronto, 4/22 vs. Toronto)

7: Longest winless streak, from March 17th-31st.

56: Most penalty minutes in one game, on November 11th vs. Hershey.

6: Shutouts against.

4: Shutouts for, all by Mackenzie Blackwood.

18: Least shots in one game, on October 14th vs. Providence.

45: Most shots in one game, on February 11th vs. Toronto.

60: Most shots faced, on April 28th vs. Toronto.

0: Skaters to appear in all 76 games.

72: Most appearances, by Brian Gibbons and Ben Thomson.

-19: Plus/minus rating for John Quenneville.

2949: Average home attendance.

 

 

 

 

 

Calder Cup Update 5/3

At approximately 1:03 AM this morning, a Ryan Carpenter overtime goal in San Jose would officially put an end to the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Since Friday, the field of 8 has been set…and there are some surprises.

-On Sunday, the top two seeds in the Atlantic were both knocked out in Game 5’s:

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the regular season champs, became the first team since 1996 to finish first overall in the AHL, then get knocked out in the first round after Providence defeated the Penguins 2-1.  Lehigh Valley, the second seed, would go down in Game 5 to Hershey 3-2.  In any other season, these would be two major upsets, but with the strength of the top 5 teams in the division (Bridgeport, the 5th place team, would have ran away with the North Division title if the old crossover rule was still in effect), both series truly could have gone in either direction.

The Atlantic Division Finals will get underway on Saturday in Hershey, with Game 2 to follow Sunday afternoon.  The series will then shift to Rhode Island on May 11th, 12th, and the 14th if necessary.  Games 6 and 7 would be in Hershey on May 16th and 17th.

-The Central Division gets underway tonight in Chicago, as the Wolves and Grand Rapids will square off.  Game 2 is Friday in Chicago, then the series shifts to Michigan on Saturday for Game 3 and Monday for Game 4.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th in Chicago, Game 6 May 15th in Grand Rapids, and Game 7 May 16th in Chicago.

-Syracuse and Toronto will kick off the North Division finals in central New York, with Game 1 on Friday and Game 2 Saturday.  The series then heads to Canada for Game 3 May 9th and Game 4 on May 10th.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th in Syracuse, Game 6 May 15th in Toronto, and Game 7 May 17th in Syracuse.

-Finally, in the Pacific, San Jose and San Diego both finished off 5 game series wins on Tuesday, with the Barracuda finishing off Stockton and the Gulls eliminating Ontario.  Their division final gets started on Friday in San Jose, followed by Game 2 on Saturday.  The series moves to San Diego on May 10th, with Game 4 on the 12th.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th, then Games 6 and 7 are in San Jose on May 16th and 17th.

Two pieces of Devils news to report (as we are still celebrating the Draft Lottery win on Saturday):

-Vojtech Mozik became the first departure on Wednesday, signing with the KHL’s HC Vityaz Podolsk.  Thus begins the fun with translation season.

-And finally…https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAlbanyDevils%2Fvideos%2F1887736881251985%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>All. The. Feels.

Stay tuned as the season in review returns with Part 2 tomorrow night…

 

Calder Cup 2017 Recap, Week 2: Fin

Yesterday in the car, Sirius XM The Highway played Brad Paisley’s song Last Time for Everything.  It turned out to be an omen.

After 7 years and hundreds of games, it all came to an end late on a Friday night.

Tuesday: Add another junior player to the roster: defenseman Colby Sissons joined the team after his season with Swift Current (WHL) ended.

Game 3, 4/26: 3-2 L (OT)

The series moved north of the border to Toronto on Wednesday, as both teams looked to go up 2-1 in the best of five.  Mackenzie Blackwood was back between the pipes looking for redemption, while Jan Mandat and Blake Speers were in for the injured Joe Blandisi and Miles Wood.  Scott Wedgewood was cleared and would serve as backup in place of Ken Appleby.

Brendan Leipsic would strike first 3:49 into the opening frame with his first of the postseason for a 1-0 Toronto lead.  John Quenneville would match that with his third straight goal of the series, on the Devils’ first power play of the night, less than seven minutes later.  In the second, Leipsic would strike a second time with 2:01 remaining for a 2-1 Marlies lead.  That lead would last all of 23 seconds…Carter Camper would score his first of the postseason to re-tie the game up at 2.  After a scoreless third that saw both teams fail to capitalize on power play chances, it was on to overtime.  And 45 seconds in, Colin Greening would end it with the first shot, giving the Marlies the 2-1 edge in the series and putting Albany on the brink.  Blackwood rebounded nicely from Game 2’s disaster despite taking the loss, stopping 22 of 25 shots.  Four different Devils would have one assist each.

Lines:

Ben Sexton-Carter Camper-Blake Pietila

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Blake Speers

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Max Novak, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Miles Wood, Petr Straka, Brandon Gignac, Austin Cangelosi, Andrew MacWilliam, Yohann Auvitu, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Jacob MacDonald, Evan Cormier, Ken Appleby

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 29.  Shots Allowed: 25.

3 Stars: 1. Colin Greening; 2. Brendan Leipsic; 3. Kasperi Kapanen.

Highlight Reel:

Game 4, 4/28: 2-1 L (3 OT)

Friday night’s mission for Game 4 was a simple one: Win, and play Saturday.  Lose, and it’s all over.

One lineup change: Karl Stollery out, Jacob MacDonald in.  Mackenzie Blackwood back between the pipes.

In the first, it was all Toronto, as they outshot the Devils 11-4 and went up 1-0 8:55 in on a Travis Dermott goal.  Albany would have to kill off an early penalty in the second, but managed to tie the game up at 1 late in the second on Carter Camper’s second goal of the playoffs.  After that, the rookie goalies–Blackwood and Toronto’s Kasimir Kaskikuo–would take over, mostly Blackwood.  While the Devils were only able to manage 17 shots against through regulation, Blackwood was practically standing on his head, stopping 40 of 41 shots through the first 60 minutes.  In the first overtime, the Devils would finally outshoot the Marlies by a 10-8 margin, but blew a chance at a win by not producing on a 4 minute power play.  On to the second overtime, where the Marlies managed 6 shots to the Devils’ 4, but Albany was able to kill off a Ben Thomson penalty to stay alive.  Then came the third overtime, where 6:43 in, and on Toronto’s 60th shot of the night, Justin Holl would connect and get the series clincher, sending the Marlies to the second round and Albany into extinction.

In his last start of the season, Blackwood was absolutely amazing.  Despite a very hard loss, he stopped 58 of 60 shots, and was singlehandedly the reason Albany was able to extend their run by 46 more minutes.  John Quenneville and Ben Sexton had the lone helpers.

Lines:

Ben Sexton-Carter Camper-Blake Pietila

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Blake Speers

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Jacob MacDonald/Vojtech Mozik

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Ken Appleby, Andrew MacWilliam, Joe Blandisi, Max Novak, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Karl Stollery, Shane Harper, Miles Wood, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Colby Sissons, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier, Austin Cangelosi, Colton White

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 60.

3 Stars: 1. Justin Holl; 2. Mackenzie Blackwood; 3. Kasimir Kaskikuo.

Highlight Reel:

Around the Playoffs:

Let’s check in on the rest of the Calder Cup field:

Much like Albany, St. John’s is also extinct.  A tying goal by former Devil Stefan Matteau forced overtime in the IceCaps Game 4 matchup against the Crunch on Friday, but Gabriel Dumont would get the game winner, setting up a Syracuse-Toronto North Division final beginning on Friday night in central New York.

Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, both find themselves on the brink.  Hershey could wrap up the series with the Phantoms on Saturday night with a win in Game 4 (if needed Game 5 would be in Allentown on Sunday afternoon), while the Penguins and Bruins will play Game 5 in Wilkes-Barre Township on Sunday after Providence took Game 4 on Friday night.

The Central Division final is set: Chicago defeated Charlotte in 5 games, while Grand Rapids swept Milwaukee.  The Wolves and Griffins start their series on Wednesday in Chicago.

In the Pacific, San Jose is up 2-1 on Stockton, and can wrap the series up with a win on Sunday on the road (Game 5 if needed is Tuesday in San Jose).  San Diego is up 2-1 against Ontario, and they can advance with a win against the Reign on Monday (Game 5 would also be Tuesday).

Up North with the Thunder:

Sadly, the season has come to an end for Adirondack, as they dropped Game 6 6-5 to Manchester in overtime on Tuesday night, dropping the series 4 games to 2.  The Thunder would fall behind 5-4 in the 3rd period, only to have Patch Alber tie the game up with 2:34 left in regulation to force overtime, extending the season by about 3 minutes.  Dennis Kravchenko scored twice and finished one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick, Ryan Culkin would have 3 assists, and Brandon Baddock would get his first point of the postseason with a second period assist on Brian Ward’s goal.  J.P. Anderson would stop 37 of 43 Monarch shots.  Forward Brett Pollock and defenseman Keegan Kanzig have joined Stockton for the remainder of the Heat’s playoff run.

What’s Next?

Well…there’s still some Year in Review business to take care of, look for that next week.  After that…stay tuned, I guess.

Calder Cup 2017 Recap, Week 1: Fighting to a Split

The first two games of the Devils-Marlies series could be described as a tale of two teams…on both sides.  A shutout followed by a blowout, and we’re all tied at 1 as the series heads north.

Game 1, 4/20: 3-0 W

With a 2-3 format and a Chainsmokers concert taking over the Times Union Center on Friday, the series would get underway with a rare Thursday night matchup.  Mackenzie Blackwood, coming off his third shutout to close out the regular season the weekend before, drew the start, while Toronto countered with Garret Sparks.  It was a rather quiet first period…until Ben Thomson would put the hosts on the board with 3:38 to go in the opening period for a 1-0 lead.  Midway through the second, the Devils would find themselves in a 1:09 5 on 3 situation thanks to questionable calls on Blake Coleman and Brian Gibbons.  But not only would Albany kill a majority of that off–a penalty on Toronto’s Andrew Nielsen would negate the last 23 seconds–on the ensuing power play, John Quenneville would connect for a goal to double the Albany lead.  Brian Gibbons would finish it off with an empty net goal late in the third, starting the rematch in the Devils favor.  Blackwood was magnificent, stopping all 27 Marlies shots.  Nick Lappin and Seth Helgeson would each have one assist.

Fun fact: This was only the second time all season a team shut the Marlies out.  Former Devil Yann Danis shut out Toronto 3-0 on March 5th.

Lines:

Carter Camper-Joe Blandisi-Ben Sexton

Blake Coleman-John Quenneville-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Miles Wood

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Blake Pietila

Defense:

Steve Santini/Seth Helgeson

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Jacob MacDonald/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Max Novak, Jan Mandat, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Scott Wedgewood, Blake Speers, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier, Colton White, Austin Cangelosi, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 1 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 0 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 23.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Mackenzie Blackwood; 2. Ben Thomson; 3. John Quenneville.

Highlight Reel:

Game 2, 4/22: 6-2 L

Less than 48 hours, the teams reconvened for Game 2.  Only change for the Devils was Viktor Loov in, Jacob MacDonald out.  Mackenzie Blackwood and Garret Sparks remained in net.  But something was different compared to Thursday night…Toronto found their offense, grabbing an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Kerby Rychel 2:56 into the contest.  Kevin Rooney would tie things up late in the period with his first postseason goal, only to have former Devil Sergey Kalinin give Toronto a 2-1 lead eleven seconds later.  In the second, the Marlies would take over the contest, as goals by Frederik Gauthier and Colin Greening 2:23 apart would put the visitors ahead 4-1, chasing Blackwood out of the net in favor of Ken Appleby.  The goalie switch seemed to wake the Devils up somewhat…John Quenneville would score for the second straight game to cut the deficit to 4-2.  But a late power play goal by Andreas Johnsson would restore the 3 goal advantage for Toronto.  Albany had a golden opportunity to get back in the game with a 1:48 5 on 3 chance, but could not take advantage.  To finish off the rout, Trevor Moore would score 4:35 into the third, giving the Marlies the win and a split heading into Canada next week.  Blackwood stopped 9 of 13 shots in 26:38, while Appleby stopped 8 of 10 in 33:12.  Three Devils would add one assist each.

Lines:

Joe Blandisi-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Miles Wood-Kevin Rooney-Brian Gibbons

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Blake Pietila

Defense:

Steve Santini/Seth Helgeson

Vojtech Mozik/Karl Stollery

Viktor Loov/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Max Novak, Jan Mandat, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Blake Speers, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Austin Cangelosi, Colton White, Scott Wedgewood, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 28.  Shots on Goal: 21.  Shots Allowed: 23.

3 Stars: 1. Frederik Gauthier; 2. Justin Holl; 3. Kerby Rychel.

Highlight Reel:

Around the Playoffs:

Let’s check in on the other AHL first round series:

In the other North Division matchup, Syracuse and St. John’s split their first two games in Newfoundland, with the Crunch winning in double overtime on Saturday.  The series moves to Syracuse for Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Friday, with Game 5 if needed on Saturday.

Lehigh Valley finds themselves in a 2-0 hole to Hershey after the Bears took the first two games with a 1-0 overtime win on Friday, followed by a comeback 5-4 win on Saturday (the Bears were down 4-2 entering the third).  Hershey’s first chance to wrap up the series comes Wednesday at home, with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday if needed.

Providence is up 1-0 on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after a 2-1 win at home on Friday night.  Game 2 is Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island before the series moves to northeast Pennsylvania for Game 3 on Thursday.

Moving to the West, Chicago and Charlotte split their first two games in North Carolina, with the Checkers picking up a 4-0 shut out win on Thursday before the Wolves picked up a 3-2 win on Friday.  Game 3 is in Illinois Sunday afternoon, with Game 4 on Tuesday and Game 5 if needed Wednesday.

Grand Rapids is up 1-0 on Milwaukee after a 4-3 overtime win on Friday.  Game 2 is this afternoon in Michigan, before the series moves to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Wednesday.

San Jose is up 1-0 against Stockton after they shut the Heat out 4-0 on Friday.  Game 2 is Sunday afternoon in San Jose, then the series goes to Stockton for Game 3 on Friday.

Finally, San Diego and Ontario are tied at 1 in their series after the Reign took Game 1 3-2 on Friday and the Gulls won 2-1 on Saturday.  In the ever popular 1-1-1-1-1 series set up, Game 3 is on Friday in San Diego, with Game 4 in Ontario on Monday, May 1st.

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack, as mentioned last week, is in a unique situation in their first round series with Manchester: due to the circus coming in to the SNHU Arena, the Thunder gets the next 5 games of the 7 game series on home ice.  In Game 3 on Tuesday, the Thunder cut the series lead to 2-1 with a 3-1 win over the Monarchs on Tuesday.  Three different Thunder players would score, James Henry would add two assists, while J.P. Anderson stopped 26 of 27 shots.  Manchester would take a 3-1 lead in Game 4 on Thursday night, a 2-1 win, despite only putting 16 shots on goal.  Cullen Bradshaw had the lone Thunder goal, while Anderson stopped 14 of 16.  Adirondack would stave off elimination in Game 5 on Saturday with a 2-1 win.  Peter MacArthur and Dennis Kravchenko would each have a goal, and Anderson stopped 25 of 26.  The Thunder will again attempt to keep their season alive in Game 6 on Tuesday, with Game 7 scheduled for Wednesday if necessary.

This Week’s Schedule:

The series shifts to Toronto for Games 3-5.  We know for sure that Game 3 will be Wednesday and Game 4 is on Friday night.  Will Game 5 on Saturday be needed?  We shall see.

But the Devils have a daunting task of taking 2 out of 3 in Toronto in order to stave off extinction.