Before moving on to the 2nd game of the weekend between the Devils and Checkers, let’s recap last night’s game 1 festivities:
First big news of the game: The scoreless streak is over! Albany took a 1-0 lead halfway through the first on a goal by Rob Davison. The streak ends at (and I did the math, hopefully right) 169:26. The Checkers came back to tie it early in the second on a Drayson Bowman tally. David McIntyre responded with an unassisted tally 4 minutes later, 2-1 Devils. Then the fun started…Zack FitzGerald (whose favorite movie is NOT The Notebook, despite what three of his teammates will tell you in the Ask the Checkers video of the day) slams Louis into the boards. Louis (being the idiot that he sometimes is) chases him down to the other end of the ice and tackles him from behind. Smart idea buddy…it was on. And Zack dominated, Louis couldn’t get a punch up if he tried. The physical stuff continued later in the period with essentially a 10 car pileup behind the Checker net and Pierre Luc Leblond and Brad Herauf trying to punch each other over the pile. The Devils killed off an ensuing 5-on-3, but just as that expires Stephen Gionta takes a tripping call and the Checkers quickly get the tying goal on the power play courtesy of Brett Carson (goal later given to Jacob Micflikier). Less than 2 minutes later with Alexander Urbom in the box, Charlotte snags their first lead of the game at 3-2 thanks to Zac Dalpe. Finally to close it out a beautiful scrap at center ice between 2 D-men, Brett Bellemore and Chris Murray. Give Bellemore the takedown on that one.
Third period started out rather uneventful…till Nicolas Blanchard is awarded a penalty shot about 5 minutes in. Dave Caruso denied the 4th and insurance goal. Then all hell broke loose at the 7:35 mark. All 10 skaters involved, the highlight being a scrap between Brad Mills and Drayson Bowman. Chris Murray, Riley Nash and Pierre-Luc Leblond all assessed roughing minors before peace was finally restored. Caruso put on a goaltending clinic, stopping every Checker shot that came into his path. With less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd, newly acquired Steven Zalewski snags the game tying goal in his Devil debut. Nothing doing the rest of the period, so off to overtime we go at 3-3. And with the point, the Devils stay in 7th place after being tied with the victorious Phantoms for a few minutes during the 3rd period.
One very important stat: Going into Saturday, the Devils had yet to lose during OT, boasting a 2-0 record (but a 3-3 SO record). That streak extended to 3-0, thanks to an unassisted goal by Adam Henrique with less than 2 minutes left in the overtime session to give Albany a 4-3 win. Dave Caruso definitely earned the win after his outstanding third period, shutting the Checker offense down. He finished with 27 saves and earned #2 star honors (Bowman #1, Henrique #3).
Looking ahead to today’s matchup:
-Fourth meeting of the season, Albany now up 2-1 in the series. One more game on Tuesday the 15th, then they don’t meet again till April 2nd in Albany.
-Standings: With a Norfolk victory last night, Charlotte falls back to 4th place in the East Division with a 29-18-2-4 record and 64 points. They are 1 point behind Norfolk for 3rd and 4 points ahead of Binghamton. Albany holds on to the 7th place slot with a 19-28-0-3 record and 41 points, remaining 2 points ahead of Adirondack and 1 point behind Syracuse for 6th. If you’re actually thinking playoff picture (you can start laughing now), they are 17 points behind Worcester for the last playoff spot (with the crossover rules in effect, Binghamton would cross over, but they have 2 more points than the Sharks). Hey with the parent club on a hot streak and inching closer to respectability, you’d think it might trickle down to the farm right? OK maybe not.
Game time 3:00. I will be following along from home (and hopefully with better audio to work with than last night…I missed half the penalty calls grrr…).