9 Days of Devils, Day 1: And The Awards Go To…

Today the Albany Devils Booster Club held their end of year awards banquet for the team. This was a tradition with the River Rats that the new team has taken on, very fun night with the team. A variety of awards were presented, from the bowlathon to the usual offensive/defensive achievements. So without further adieu, I bring you this year’s award winners:

First up, the awards from the annual Bowlathon. Players’ high game went to Brad Mills, high series to Nathan Perkovich (TEAM PERKY! sorry he was on my lane), and finally the most prestigious of them all, low score/best effort, went to Alexander Urbom. Not revealing the number, but let’s say it wasn’t that good.

Next is what our program called “Acknowledgement of Achievements.”
-Goal Scoring Leader: Adam Henrique
-Assist Leader: Matt Anderson
-Game Winning Goal Leader (and a Taco Bell certificate since we get them for a win): Adam Henrique
-Short Handed Goal Leader: Brad Mills
-Power Play Goal Leader (and a Price Chopper gift card since they sponsor the power play): Adam Henrique
-Hat Trick: Chad Wiseman’s 4 goal game was the only one, he got a cool hat.
-First AHL Goals (each got a little award): Alexander Urbom, Dan Kelly, Andy Thomas, Ryan Ginand, Joe Sova
-First AHL Shutout (another little award): Dave Caruso

Now for the individual player awards:

The Booster Club tallied who got first, second and third stars for each game. Here are your 3 Stars of the Year:
-3rd Star: Matt Anderson
-2nd Star: Chad Wiseman
-1st Star: Adam Henrique

The next list was completely based on votes by the Booster Club members:
-Offensive Player of the Year: Matt Anderson
-Defensive Player of the Year: Dan Kelly
-Unsung Hero: David McIntyre
-Most Electrifying Player (meaning the player that gets the fans on their feet, gets them excited, etc etc.): Pierre-Luc Leblond
-Fan Favorite: Louis Robitaille

The last two awards were picked by the coaching staff (all 2 of them):
-Most Improved Player: Harry Young
-John Cunniff Memorial Award (established for the ’02-’03 season, basically it’s the coach’s award for a player that is there for the team, good in the community, etc. Ironically Trevor Gillies is a past winner of this): Brad Mills (also the team selection for the AHL Man of the Year award)

Very enjoyable night had by all, lots of laughs between Chad Wiseman’s wisecracks (SPEECH!) and Louis’s son Kayden running around playing goalie and his Lightning McQueen race cars. There was also a guest speaker, the Times Union Center’s general manager spoke with the group about how having the Devils move in has worked out…and some future event hints, including a NHL preseason game in September for the first time in probably 10 years (Devils-Rangers, cannot wait. Meanwhile Brad Mills wants to know when Monday Night Raw comes back haha).

So to explain the title: I was looking at my calendar earlier this week and noticed a lot of Devil events over the next week and a half. 7 games left in the season, all I plan on attending, plus 2 team events (tonight and the STH End of Season party next week)…comes out to 9 Devil events in a 12 day span. So I created the first annual 9 Days of Devils festival (for myself, it’s got a nice ring to it though). Days 2-5 are this weekend, 3 games (Friday in Adirondack, Saturday and Sunday at home against Charlotte and Binghamton), then Monday is the STH party (at the Crowne Plaza, business casual attire requested…hmmm). Then to finish it out for Days 6-9 are 4 games, next Wednesday back in Glens Falls, then next Friday in Springfield, final home game next Saturday against Portland, then to wrap it up Sunday the 10th in Bridgeport (a place I haven’t been since New Year’s 2006). After that, it’s keeping an eye on who makes the Calder Cup playoffs and counting down the days till Valleycats season begins in June.

Speaking of baseball…Opening Day tomorrow! Whoohoo! So does that mean spring may finally show up around here? Of course not, Mother Nature is still pissed off and is dropping another 6 to 10 inches snow on of all days April Fools Day. Not my idea of a funny joke. My new flip flops I just bought about 2 weeks ago? They probably won’t see the light of day till June at this rate. Capris and short sleeves? Yeah right not anytime soon. This has got to be the worst winter I have ever gone through. And it’s not going away wahhhh…


Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes #1

NOTE: Another back to back with an opponent, so it’ll go like this: Normal pregamer today, recap and short preview for the second game on Friday.

A few things you need to know before the Devils and Phantoms take to the Times Union Center ice:

-Season: This is the 10th of 12 meetings between the I-87 rivals, with the Devils holding a 5-4 lead in the quest for the Time Warner Cable Cup. Last meeting was on March 11th in Glens Falls, a 2-1 Devil victory. The two square off 2 more times, on April 1st and 6th in the North Country.

-Standings: The Phantoms begin the day in 8th place in the East Division with a record of 26-36-4-6 and 62 points. They trail Albany by just 3 points. The Devils stand in 7th with a 30-37-1-4 mark and 65 points, 2 points behind 6th place Syracuse.

-Scoring: Leading all Adirondack skaters is veteran Denis Hamel with 40 points (21 G, 19 A), followed by defenseman Danny Syvret with 38 points (9 G, 29 A combined with Adirondack and Syracuse). Lately former River Rat Michael Leighton has been the main starter over Johan Backlund, defeating both Hershey and Wilkes-Barre in a recent weekend stretch. He leads in wins with 11 despite only being in Adirondack since January 4th. On the home side…no changes at the top, Matt Anderson still leads the Devils with 50 points (21 G, 29 A), followed by Adam Henrique with 45 points (23 G, 22 A). Not sure who will be in net with Mike McKenna and Jeff Frazee flip flopping starts and relief stints, but here are a few numbers to share: McKenna has more wins (14-10), minutes (1,832-1,690), and saves (854-759), while Frazee has the lower GAA (2.84-3.50) higher save percentage (.905-.889), and more shutouts (2-1). So with the Devils basically playing out the string and everyone looking to 2011-12, it will be interesting to see who gets more time in net.

Game time: 7 PM. Due to work obligations I will not be in attendance but there will be updates as the night goes on. I promise it’s the last game I miss this season, I plan on being at every remaining home/away game.

Albany-Hershey Pregame Notes

A few things to know before the Devils and Bears square off at Giant Center:

-Season: This is the 6th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Bears holding a 5-0 lead. Last matchup was on February 26th in Chocolatetown, a 4-3 Bears victory.

-Standings: Hershey begins the day in 2nd place in the East Division, with a record of 42-24-2-5 and 91 points. They stand 12 points behind first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and 4 points ahead of 3rd place Charlotte. They can join the Calder Cup playoff party with a win and any kind of loss by Worcester. Albany begins the day in 6th with a 30-36-1-4 mark and 65 points, 18 points behind 5th place Binghamton and 2 points ahead of 7th place Syracuse.

-Scoring: Hershey is lead by veteran Brian Willsie with 65 points (29 G, 36 A) and former River Rat captain Keith Aucoin with 63 points (15 G, 48 A). Regular starter Braden Holtby was recalled by the parent Capitals, leaving Nolan Schaefer and recently recalled junior goalie Brandon Anderson. For the visitors, still leading Devils skaters is Matt Anderson with 50 points (21 G, 29 A) followed by Adam Henrique with 43 points (23 G, 20 A). Not sure who we’ll be seeing in net, Mike McKenna started last night in Syracuse but was pulled in the 3rd period in favor of Jeff Frazee after letting in 5 goals to the Crunch.

Game time: 7 PM. Will be watching the AHL Live feed and following along…

Albany-Syracuse Pregame Notes

A few things to know before the Devils and Crunch take the ice at War Memorial at Oncenter:

-Season: This is the 8th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 4-3 lead. Last matchup was on March 16th in Central New York, with the Devils easily winning 6-1.

-Standings: The Crunch begin the day in 7th place in the East Division, with a record of 27-36-3-4 and 61 points. They lead 8th place Adirondack by 3 points and trail the Devils by 4. Albany stands in 6th place with a 30-35-1-4 record and 65 points. They trail 5th place Binghamton by 16 points.

-Scoring: Leading the Crunch is forward (and former Phantom) Patrick Maroon with 41 points (20 G, 21 A combined with ADR/SYR), followed by the reigning AHL Player of the Week, rookie Kyle Palmieri with 39 points (20 G, 19 A). Rookie Timo Pielmeier and J.P. Levasseur have been flip flopping starts in net recently, Levasseur was in net and took the loss the last time the two teams met. On the visitors side, no changes at the top…Matt Anderson leads all skaters with 50 points (21 G, 29 A) followed by Adam Henrique with 43 points (23 G, 20 A). Jeff Frazee is back from his hand injury, he backed up Mike McKenna Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre. I would think he would get the nod tonight and McKenna starts in Hershey tomorrow night.

Game time: 7:30 PM. I will be making the 2 hour+ trek and have the usual entertainment…

Albany-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pregame Notes

A few things to know before the Devils and Penguins hit the ice at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza:

-Season: This is the 8th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Penguins holding a commanding 7-0 lead. Last meeting was on February 7th in Atlantic City (a makeup from December 12th), a 4-0 WBS victory. The Devils as a franchise have yet to record a victory against the Pens.

-Standings: Wilkes-Barre stands in first place in the East Division (and also first in the Eastern Conference and the league as a whole), with a record of 50-18-0-1 and 101 points. They lead second place Hershey by 10 points and are the first team in the AHL to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot, accomplishing the feat on Saturday night. Albany stands in 6th place with a 30-35-1-3 record and 64 points. They are behind 5th place Binghamton by 15 points and 3 points ahead of 7th place Syracuse.

-Scoring: The Penguins are lead by Brett “The Ticket” Sterling (credit to our friends at Chirps from Center Ice for that nickname) with 45 points (23 G, 22 A) followed by team captain Ryan Craig with 43 points (17 G, 26 A). All-Star goalies Brad Thiessen and John Curry share time in net, Thiessen leading the league in most major categories (GAA, wins, tied for shutouts). On the Devil side…despite hot streaks from several players on the roster, Matt Anderson is still first among skaters with 50 points (21 G, 29 A) followed by Adam Henrique with 43 points (23 G, 20 A). Mike McKenna and Dave Caruso are continuing to split time in net, with Jeff Frazee still sidelined with a finger injury. I would expect McKenna to get the start despite a shaky effort for the win in Norfolk on Saturday.

Game time: 7 PM. I will be following along from home on the AHL Live feed…

Sunday Funday

According to the calendar, today is the Vernal Equinox, otherwise known as the First Day of Spring. Amen to that.

As I’m writing this I’m listening in on Charlotte-WBS, so far it’s sounding like a much better game than the one I saw in Syracuse last night. Let me back track a bit to earlier this week, specifically Wednesday and the anticipated rematch between the Devils and Crunch. After Sunday’s festivities that saw 8 fights and shockingly no suspensions (the next to last fight Leigh Salters left the bench to fight PL3 and Brian McGrattan was seen making an obscene gesture towards someone on the ice that the officials never caught according to one witness), everyone wondered if the rematch would just be a continuation of it. This time around the two teams actually played hockey, and it was the Devils making a statement. What was a close 2-1 Devil lead entering the final frame turned into a 4 goal period and blowout for the visitors, a 6-1 Albany win (a franchise record 5th straight). And as for the extra curriculars? Only one fight, Harry Young vs. Brian Lebler in the first half of the third. It was so bad for the Crunch that the idiot fans there (who’s smarter a Phantom fan or a drunk Crunch fan?) were chanting that their coach sucks. Yeah like it’s his fault your team is in next to last place in the division.

Next stop for the Devils was Norfolk for a two game series. Considering the season series against the Admirals (a single OT win in December), I wondered if the recent surge would carry over. For one night…not so much. Norfolk busted out of the gate from the beginning, taking an immediate 11-0 advantage in shots. As a matter of fact, it was 2-0 before the Devils even got a shot off of Cedrick Desjardins. Adam Henrique got the Devils on the board with a short handed goal early on in the 2nd, but Matt Fornataro gave the Admirals the 2 goal lead right back. Then later in the second the fun got started as the first of 5 fights broke out, including the nightly Leblond bout, this time Pierre-Cedric Labrie was his dance partner. David McIntyre and Alexander Urbom even got involved in some fisticuffs. Norfolk added an empty netter late in the third to seal the 4-1 win. Saturday night came the rematch, and once again like the rematch with the Crunch, it was the exact opposite of the previous matchup. Chris Brown only called 4 penalties all night (a la Jeff Smith), naturally all were on Albany. The Devils raced to a 3-0 lead in the first period, with offense from 3 different goal scorers (Olivier Magnan, Darcy Zajac, and the extremely hot Chad Wiseman), despite being outshot 17-11. Norfolk made a comeback in the 2nd, outshooting the Devils 13-9 and cutting the deficit to 3-2 before Steve Zalewski scored to restore a 2 goal cushion. Third period was very back and forth, Norfolk came back to tie the game at 4, then Matt Anderson gave the Devils a 5-4 lead early on. Vladimir Mihalik retied the game at 5 less than 4 minutes later, leading the teams to overtime. Despite a very late power play chance, Norfolk could not capitalize and it was on to a shootout. Steve Zalewski was the only successful shooter in the bonus round, giving the Devils a 6-5 win and hopefully the start of a new winning streak. Still 13 points behind 5th place Binghamton, who’s holding down the crossover playoff spot into the Atlantic Division.

While the Devils were scoring in bunches in Norfolk, I had the chance (thanks to a free ticket won by my friend Jackie, courtesy of the Devils Bowlathon) to travel to Syracuse to see the Checkers play the Crunch. The Crunch team I saw last night was a complete opposite of what I had seen Sunday in Albany and online on Wednesday night. Either that or Justin Pogge’s game melted down instead of himself this time. First period Crunch came out with a very physical game, getting under the skin of the Checkers from the get go. Pogge even literally threw a Crunch player out of his crease at one point, a play everyone but the ref saw happen. A few get togethers broke out behind the Checker net, resulting in a Brian McGrattan interference major and game misconduct (which gave him an automatic 1 game suspension for accumulation). Patrick Maroon (who’s still shaking his head at our “Leblond Says Hi” sign) and Kyle Palmieri gave the Crunch an early 2-0 lead (meaning 2 Pogge chants from the crowd, about 5700 strong). Second period the Checkers got on the board courtesy of Nick Dodge to cut the deficit to 2-1, but that was as close as they would get. Syracuse exploded for 4 goals in 3 and a half minutes late in the period to turn a close game into a blowout 6-1 lead after two periods. Palmieri completed the hat trick while Josh Green and Matt Beleskey added goals. Third period Mike Murphy stepped in to stop the bleeding, going a perfect 7 for 7 in saves, but the Checkers couldn’t get the offense going. Rookie Timo Pielmeier stopped 40 shots and earned a #3 star as the Crunch took an inexplicable 6-2 win.

Looking ahead to this week…the Devils road trip doesn’t get much easier. Wednesday they travel to Wilkes-Barre Township for one last matchup with the Penguins, the first AHL team to punch their Calder Cup playoff Ticket and also to reach 100 points. Friday they return to Syracuse to face the Crunch (a game I will be attending, yes two trips to Syracuse in less than a week for me), then travel back down Interstate 81 Saturday to face the Bears in Chocolatetown. Another good test to see how far they’ve come over this recent surge. Season comes to an end in 3 more weeks, but it’s not over yet…

Albany-Norfolk Pregame Notes #2

Before we look ahead to today’s rematch between the Devils and Admirals, let’s review the events of last night:

Apparently the Admirals were the only team that knew the game started at 7:30, as they jumped right out of the gate. Tim Marks and James Wright scored before the Devils could even register a shot on goal. At one point, Norfolk was outshooting the visitors 11-0. But the Devils finally managed a few shots on Norfolk goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, with nothing getting past him. The Admirals outshot the Devils 14-7 during the first period. Second period got off to a very good start for the Devils, Adam Henrique scored shorthanded to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Matt Fornataro scored on the power play to give Norfolk the 2 goal lead right back. Third period saw the chippiness kick in…after a scuffle between David McIntyre and former River Rat Mike Angelidis late in the second, Harry Young fought Alex Berry and Pierre Luc Leblond got his nightly scrap in with Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Later in the period a line brawl breaks out, featuring Chris Murray vs. Chris Durno, Tim Sestito vs. Radko Gudas, and for good measure Alexander Urbom wrestled Alex Berry to the ground. At one point, Norfolk had 5 men sitting in the penalty box (was there enough breathing room? Good thing Vladimir Mihalik wasn’t one of them that would be interesting). The Devils pulled Dave Caruso late for the extra attacker, but former Rat training camp participant Stefano Giliati banged home an empty netter to seal the 4-1 win for Norfolk. After starting out with an 11 shot advantage, final shots were 28-23 Norfolk.

Now looking ahead to tonight:

-Season: This is the 8th and final meeting between the two teams, Norfolk now leads the series 6-1.

-Standings: Norfolk sits in 4th place in the East Division with a record of 35-19-8-5 and 83 points, still one point behind 3rd place Charlotte and up 8 points on 5th place Binghamton. Albany stands in 6th place with a 29-35-1-3 record and 62 points, 13 points behind the Senators and 6 points up on 7th place Adirondack.

Game time: 7:15 PM. Due to a prior commitment I will not be tweeting this one but will send updates throughout the night…

Albany-Norfolk Pregame Notes #1

NOTE: Another back to back opponent this weekend, so regular pregamer today, recap and short preview tomorrow.

What you will need to know before the Devils and Admirals face off at the Scope:

-Season: This is the 7th of 8 meetings between the teams, with the Admirals holding a 5-1 lead. Last meeting was on March 4th in Albany, with Norfolk holding on to a 1-0 win. The teams play one more time on March 19th in Virginia.

-Standings: Norfolk begins the day in 4th place in the East Division, with a record of 34-19-8-5 and 81 points. They stand 1 point behind 3rd place Charlotte and 6 points ahead of 5th place Binghamton. The Devils stand in 6th place, with a 29-34-1-3 record and 62 points. They are 13 points behind Binghamton and 6 points ahead of 7th place Adirondack.

-Scoring: The Admirals are lead by center Marc-Antoine Pouliot with 56 points (20 G, 36 A) followed by Johan Harju with 45 points (21 G, 24 A). Cedrick Desjardins recently returned to the lineup after being out with an injury, he and Dustin Tokarski are splitting the time in net. Tokarski leads the way with 19 wins, including the shutout against the Devils in the last meeting. For Albany, no changes at the top of the list, Matt Anderson leads the way with 48 points (20 G, 28 A), closing in on the lead is Adam Henrique with 42 points (22 G, 20 A). Jeff Frazee is still sidelined with an injured finger, no timetable on when he will be back. So I am expecting Mike McKenna to get most of the workload for the time being.

Game time: 7:30 PM. I will be following along the AHL Live feed from the comforts of my living room…

Albany-Syracuse Pregame Notes #2

Before we move on to tonight’s tilt between the Devils and Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter, let’s recap what happened Sunday afternoon in Albany. And you may want to get comfortable…

First period was virtually all Devils, as they scored 3 times and outshot their opponents 17-5. Nathan Perkovich saw his first action of the weekend and capitalized on the opportunity by scoring twice. Newly crowned AHL Player of the Week Chad Wiseman added a beautiful breakaway goal, his 6th goal in 4 games. Then came the second period and things started to get interesting…or should I say, chippy. Timo Pielmeier came out of the bullpen for the Crunch to relieve starter J.P. Levasseur. Early on the gong show started…Olivier Magnan was called for high sticking, but former Phantom Patrick Maroon decides to shove him from behind. Ding ding ding here comes Round 1. I gave Maroon the win by takedown. Three minutes later Round 2 breaks out by the benches, Chris Murray vs. Mat Clark. We’ll give it an even. Right after that, noted goal scorer Brian McGrattan gets Syracuse on the board. Things stayed quiet then Round 3 breaks out in the corner between Sean Zimmerman and David McIntyre. Sadly it was on the other side of the rink from my vantage point, can’t declare a real winner there. Peace was restored for the remainder of the period, one that saw the Crunch take over and outshoot the Devils 14-3, but Mike McKenna only let the one goal slip by.

Then came the third period…that’s when the fun truly began. Pierre Luc Leblond scored his 5th early on to restore the 3 goal lead. Then John Kurtz made the “mistake” of throwing Louis Robitaille down in the corner. What happened? You guessed it, Round 4 by the benches. Have to give Kurtz the win by turtle on that one. 3 minutes later came Round 5 and The Main Event: Leblond vs. McGrattan. The longest bout of the day between two veteran fighters, calling it even. 2 seconds later came Round 6, Harry Young vs. Leigh Salters, another even bout. Things stayed rather quiet till less than 2 minutes left in the game, Sean Zimmerman knocked a Devil down, Leblond skated over for a “friendly chat” and pushed him. Leigh Salters came out of nowhere and knocked Leblond down…smooth move genius. Off goes Round 7 between Leblond and Salters, I would say Leblond dominated that one. Finally with 7 seconds left in the game, Round 8 for good measure, Young vs. Maroon. Another even bout. Oh by the way a hockey game did take place in between all the UFC-like activities…the Devils held on for a 4-1 victory.

Now we can finally move on today’s gong show…I mean rematch:

Season: This is meeting #7 of 8 between the two teams, with the series even at 3 wins apiece. They have one more matchup, on March 25th in Central New York.

Standings: The Crunch stand in 7th place in the East Division, with a 24-34-3-4 record and 55 points. They are 5 points behind 6th place Albany and 1 point ahead of 8th place Adirondack. The Devils start the day with a 28-34-1-3 record and 60 points, 15 points behind 5th place Binghamton.

Game time: 7 PM. I will be following along from home…

Albany-Syracuse Pregame Notes #1

NOTE: Once again it’s a back to back opponent this week. So today will be a normal pregamer, Wednesday’s will be a recap of today and a short preview.

Here’s what you might need to know before the Devils and Crunch square off at Times Union Center:

Season: This is the 6th of 8 meetings between the Thruway rivals this season, with the Crunch holding a 3-2 edge. Last meeting came on January 8th in Albany, a 2-1 Devils victory. The teams square off two more times, on March 16th and March 25th in central New York.

Standings: The Crunch begin the day in 7th place in the East Division with a record of 24-33-3-4 and 55 points. They stand 3 points behind Albany and 3 points ahead of 8th place Adirondack. The Devils stand in 6th, checking in with a 27-34-1-3 record and 58 points. They are 17 points behind 5th place Binghamton and a crossover playoff spot.

Scoring: Syracuse is lead by forward Patrick Maroon with 36 points (18 G, 18 A combined with Crunch/Adirondack), followed by rookie Nicolas Deschamps with 34 points (12 G, 22 A). J.P. Levasseur and rookie Timo Pielmeier split time in the nets, both earning 10 wins apiece. On the home side, no changes at the top…Matt Anderson leads all skaters with 48 points (20 G, 28 A) followed by Adam Henrique with 40 points (21 G, 19 A). Both Mike McKenna and Dave Caruso played well in their starts this weekend, so I’m not sure who will get the nod today…no word on when Jeff Frazee will return to action.

Miscellaneous: Couple of promotions going on today. First, the game will be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports for the locals. First 2000 people through the door will be lucky enough to get their very own Devil Dawg Bobblehead doll. Finally, it’s Sunday, that means another postgame autograph session on the concourse.

Game time: 4 PM. I will be on hand with the usual…