Looking Back One Year Later

Today, April 29, hits exactly one year since the final River Rats game in Albany. How fast the time has gone since the last time we saw Rowdy the Rat on the Times Union Center ice. What started out as a really good farewell playoff run ended in a thud at the hands of the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. After sweeping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the East Division semifinals (a feat I still have no idea how the Rats pulled it off considering Albany’s history against the Penguins), the Rats ended up being swept by Hershey. But it wasn’t without a fight…3 out of the 4 games went to overtime, Game 2 in Hershey was the only time the Rats weren’t even close.

At the time of the last game, the Devil rumors were still quite rampant, more or less it was an official move despite no announcements from the New Jersey brass or anyone in Lowell. I (and a few others) were basically under the impression that this was it for AHL hockey in the Capital Region for who knows when. When Mathieu Perreault scored the game winner on Justin Peters in overtime, everything just seemed to stop. I watched the Bears celebrate in the corner, the center ice handshake, and finally the Rats raising their sticks to the crowd. Then we all headed outside by the back doors of the arena to say our tearful goodbyes to the team as most were headed to Charlotte, others to Carolina, and some to points unknown.

As the calendar turned to May, it was the same story out of the Devils as to when the move would be made official…once a week the story would be “it’ll be another week before the announcement”, then a week later repeat. Meanwhile other teams were announcing guaranteed dates for the 10-11 season and I sat back still waiting. I even considered looking at ticket packs in Adirondack and Springfield, the two closest AHL cities to here. I also figured I’d travel to my usual AHL stops (Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre, Syracuse), particularly when the Checkers would be there. While the wait got more and more impatient, an old friend popped up just across the river. Rowdy the Rat found a new home, being officially “adopted” by the Tri-City Valleycats baseball team to join their long list of mascots (2 cats, a reindeer, an enviromentally friendly green dragon, three mayors, an evil bunny) for the 2010 season. Finally around the second week of June, a news break…I found an article in the Lowell Sun about what I called the worst kept secret ever. A reporter went to the Tsongas Arena and came across movers taking furniture out of the Devils team offices. When asked where they were headed, one mover said “Albany.” The next day, the move finally became official and the Albany Devils were born.

Now that the first regular season has ended…well it’s pretty obvious who had the better year. The Checkers are currently in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs after delivering some much needed karma to the Bears in the first round, ending their season on an overtime goal. They were also successful in helping my friends the Bennett family achieve their goal of moving to North Carolina to be close to the team and getting better medical care for Zach (aka Bug), with several fund raisers over the course of the season. Meanwhile…well you know the story by now. The Devils didn’t get off to a good start publicity wise and playing wise, and basically spent the entire season playing catchup. The team is getting better slowly off the ice, but having the on ice product to put it all together isn’t there just yet. Next year could be a different story…or otherwise the Checkers will still have a bigger fan base than the team that replaced them.


Easter Sunday Special: A Historical Anniversary

Happy Easter (and Passover) to all!

Anyone remember where they were on April 24, 2008? That date may not have much significance to some people, but to a handful of River Rat and Phantom fans, it does. Today marks the 3 year anniversary of the longest game in American Hockey League history, Game 5 of the 2008 East Division Semifinals between the Rats and Phantoms. And I was there…and I sat through the entire game from start to finish.

I was in my usual seat in Section 115 with the crew, and it started out like any other game. It was a goaltending duel between Goaltender of the Year Michael Leighton for the Rats (ironically now he’s a Flyer) and the Phantoms’ Scott Munroe. The Rats were first on the board in the 2nd courtesy of late season pickup Kiel McLeod (overnight the Rats snagged him from Victoria of the ECHL…really tall, really tattooed is what I remember about him), then Jared Ross scored shorthanded to tie it at 1. Late in the period on a power play McLeod scored again to give Albany a 2-1 lead entering the 3rd. Less than 5 minutes left in the 3rd period, Ross scored his second to tie it up at 2. And that’s when the fun began.

Shots going into the first overtime were 38-32 Phantoms. Keep this stat in mind as the game (and this story) goes on. Other than an interference penalty by Rat Joe Jensen, nothing doing. Philly outshot the hosts 20-11, bringing totals to 58-43. No penalties, no nothing in the second overtime, shots were 17-6 Phantoms, totals 75-49. By this point, I’m dragging. Problem is all the refreshment stands in the arena had long since closed (during the third period as is standard), so I was jokingly asking front office staff (well mainly my friend Erin who worked for them at the time) to go on a Starbucks run for all of us (there’s one up the street), sadly they were closed too. Third overtime the Phantoms get called for a bench minor early on, Rats couldn’t capitalize on the power play, and despite three more power play chances (2 for Albany, 1 for Philly), nothing doing on either side. Shots from this period were 12-6 Philly, total 87-55. At this point a full game of shutout hockey for Leighton and Munroe has been played, and I remember running into Tim Conboy (who was serving a lengthy suspension from a Game 1 brawl) and telling him he should go to the AHL and have a game taken off his suspension. And telling Noah Babin (another Rat scratch) to get me some coffee. The fourth overtime begins…by this point, not many of us are left (the attendance on this night was just barely over 1800), probably just the diehards who can’t leave just yet. No penalties, nothing across again from either side…shots for that period were 12-11 Philly, bringing the astounding totals to 99-66. 97 saves for Leighton, 64 for Munroe. At this point, I still couldn’t will myself to walk out the arena doors, despite the fact that it was after midnight and I had to be up early for work. I was a witness to history, couldn’t leave just yet…had to see how this would end.

Scoreboard near the end of OT #4. Photo by me

Overtime #5 begins…and 1:58 into the period, Philly takes shot #100 on Leighton, which he stops.

Scoreboard showing the shot reset. Photo by me

Exactly one minute later, Ryan Potulny of the Phantoms finally breaks through and gets shot #101 past Leighton. The Phantoms finally win it 3-2 in the 5th overtime, capping the longest game in AHL history. You have to feel for Leighton with this one…the game of his life (or any goalie’s life, for that matter), 98 saves and only a loss to show for it.

Scoreboard at the end of the game. Photo by me

Final shots for the game were 101-67 Philly. Three stars of that game were: 3. Jared Ross; 2. Michael Leighton; 1. Ryan Potulny. Give Munroe credit as well he had 65 saves of his own. The official end of game time? 12:39 AM. It took 5 hours and 38 minutes to determine a winner. I didn’t get home till just before 1 AM…and somehow I still went to work the next morning on 4 hours of sleep. My coworkers were coming over to visit me at my desk when they saw on the news and asked if I was there. Oh yes, I sat through it all.

After that game, the series shifted back to Philadelphia on April 26th for Game 6, and another goaltending duel goes into overtime. But the Rats came out on top 1-0 as Kirk Macdonald scored the game winner in the first OT to force a Game 7 on April 29th. Munroe shut the door on Leighton and the Rats’ season with a 2-0 shutout of his own. That game marked the last time anyone saw Leighton in a River Rats uniform. He went on to become Cam Ward’s backup in Carolina the following season, then was put on waivers during the 09-10 season after Manny Legace took over the backup role. He spent two days on Albany’s roster (actually was in the building for a home game one of those nights), then was picked up by the Flyers on re-entry waivers and became the story of Philly’s Stanley Cup playoff run last season. Both franchises saw their share of news as well: after the 08-09 season, the Phantoms relocated to a “temporary” home in Glens Falls when the Spectrum was torn down, now they are the upstate rival Adirondack Phantoms. The River Rats went through a tumultous 08-09 season, the tip of the iceberg being the bus crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike in February 2009, then following the 09-10 season moved to North Carolina to become the Charlotte Checkers. Right after that the Devils moved in from Lowell, bringing us back to the present time.

I was reminded of this date last night after the hero of this game, Ryan Potulny, worked his OT magic for his current team, the Binghamton Senators. Down 3-1 in their first round series to Manchester, the B-Sens won 3 straight overtime games to take the 4-3 series win, the winning goal in Game 7 by Mr. Potulny. And with that came the inspiration to look back and write about my side of the story.

Earth Day Updates

Happy Earth Day to all! Just a few notes to pass along on a sunny Friday afternoon…

-What I had heard about a month ago became official earlier this afternoon, when the Times Union Center announced that the Devils and Rangers will be playing a NHL preseason game on Wednesday, September 21st. This marks the first NHL preseason game in Albany in a very long time, if I remember correctly I think 2002 was the last time the NHL was here. We had hoped Carolina would have a game when the Hurricanes had their affiliation here but nothing ever panned out. Tickets go on sale Monday, starting at $17.50 with some seats going for up to $50. Little high for a sporting event in Albany, but it’s NHL and it’s the Devils-Rangers rivalry, and it’s way cheaper than going to MSG or the Rock. And who knows Martin Brodeur may show up, he did play in a preseason game here back when it was an annual event.

-Still keeping an eye on the Calder Cup playoffs, 7 of 8 first round series still going on (Houston is the first to move on to the second round, sweeping Peoria earlier this week). Manchester has its second opportunity to knock Binghamton out with a win tonight, while both East Division matchups (Wilkes-Barre/Norfolk and Hershey/Charlotte) are tied at 2 apiece, with both Game 5s playing out this evening. Portland has its first chance to eliminate the Whale tomorrow in Hartford.

-Jumping off the hockey topic for a bit, next Saturday I’m road tripping it to New York City. I’m going on a bus my office is chartering (using the Devils bus company, Yankee Trails), dropoff and pickup at Bryant Park. I’ll admit I haven’t been to Manhattan in quite awhile (I think my first year of college when I had to go to an event near Columbus Circle was my last venture there), usually when I go to the city I just go to Yankee Stadium. Lots of pictures to be expected…and a little shopping too if I see anything good.

Going Local

Looks like a quick lunch hour post for me…and for good reason. New Jersey announced what was first rumored over the weekend…the signing of goalie Keith Kinkaid to a 3 year entry level contract for next season. It’s kind of a big deal here, considering Kinkaid just finished an outstanding sophomore season at Union College. He won the Ken Dryden Award, which honors the top goaltender in the ECAC, compiling a 25-10-3 record, 3 shutouts and a 1.99 GAA.

The big question here is where he fits in as far as the Devils roster goes. You have Johan Hedberg and Mike McKenna as unrestricted free agents, Jeff Frazee is a RFA. You also have a capable goalie in Dave Caruso, and prospect Scott Wedgewood is waiting in the wings in juniors. Depending on what happens to Hedberg and McKenna, there is a good chance Kinkaid could be in an Albany uniform come October. But we’ll see how things play out when training camp arrives in September.

Okay, back to work…just had to do the quick post on this…

Recap: 9 Days of Devils, Day 6-9

With all the end of season reviews (all finally published) out, I realized…I never recapped the second half of 9 Days of Devils. All four were losses, but I’ll still go over how the losses happened. So here we go…

Day 6, at Adirondack: Last game of 12 between the two, whoever won the game got the Time Warner Cable Cup. Earlier that day, Michael Leighton was summoned back up to Philadelphia, so I’m thinking there’s a good chance despite the 9-5 thrashing just 5 days earlier in the same building. Things started off with a bang just 3 minutes in when Zac Rinaldo struck again…he throws Darcy Zajac hard into the boards, starting a fight and being his usual punk self. Luckily Darcy was okay and stayed in the game, but Mr. Rinaldo…the usual 2 minutes, 5 minutes for fighting and the ever popular match for deliberate injury. Things settled down after that, and it was Albany who got the early lead on an Andy Thomas goal. After that, it became the Michael Ryan show, as the former Rat scored three straight unanswered goals and newcomer Matt Read added an empty netter for good measure. The Phantoms held on in their home finale 4-1, and due to winning the first tiebreaker (points), they took home their first Time Warner Cable Cup.

Day 7, at Springfield: I was hoping the guys would rebound after the loss to the Phantoms and subsequently falling into the East Division basement. Well…that didn’t happen. Despite outshooting the Falcons 30-28, Springfield dominated from beginning to end, shutting the Devils out 6-0. Recent Blue Jacket signee (and former RPI Engineer goalie) Allen York notched his first pro shutout, against the team that sometimes uses his alma mater as a practice rink. Dave Caruso didn’t survive past the second period in what would turn out to be his final appearance of the season. The only highlight I can think of from this one was seeing newly signed Mike Sislo make his pro debut after signing a 2 year entry level deal over the weekend.

Day 8, home finale: Finally got to see Portland, the team that almost moved here after last season when the move to Charlotte was first announced. Was hoping to see former Rat captain Tim Conboy in the lineup, but he did not make the trip. First period the Devils got things started in a hurry, scoring on a power play just 26 seconds into the game (Matt Anderson with the tally), but Travis Turnbull tied the game for the Pirates halfway through the period. While short handed in the second period, Portland was awarded a penalty shot, a successful one by Paul Byron to give the Pirates the lead. But rookie Mike Hoeffel retied it at 2 very late in the second. Nothing across in the 3rd period or in the extra session, so it was on to the shootout. Portland outscored Albany 2-1 in the late rounds and won 3-2, successfully clinching the Atlantic Division title.

Day 9, season finale: One last road trip for a little while for me, to Bridgeport, a place I haven’t been since December 2006. I will admit I was just a little excited when I saw the night before that Bridgeport had added former Rat Mike Sgroi for the last 2 games. He was only here for half a season but became one of my all time favorite Devil Rats (during 05-06; he could have stayed longer if not for jumping over the penalty box table to beat up a Providence Bruin that was chirping him). I paid very close attention to where he and Pierre Luc Leblond were during warmup, just incase. Yes the two exchanged pleasantries at one point, so did he and Louis (dude are you suicidal? I was about to take over/under bets on how fast the shell would come on). First period started out rather slowly, until Rob Hisey put the hosts on the board with about 4 minutes left in the first. The Devils quickly turned around and tied it early in the second thanks to Chad Wiseman (who probably still gives Mikko Koskinen, Sunday’s starter, nightmares after his four goal outburst the last time Koskinen faced the Devils). Both teams swapped goals to break and retie the game (rookie Tyler McNeely for Bridgeport and Leblond your scorers), then newly minted all time Sound Tigers point scorer Jeremy Colliton gave Bridgeport the lead for good at 3-2. Rookie Matt Donovan scored upon exiting the penalty box to give the Sound Tigers an insurance goal with over 4 minutes to go in the second. In the third, Brad Mills brought the Devils back within a goal, but the last score never came and Bridgeport held on for the win. With that, Albany fell into the overall basement, just one point behind Bridgeport. From 6th place and sort of mathematically alive for the last spot about three weeks earlier to falling into 30th in the league to end it. Not a happy ending for the first Devil season back in Albany.

So now what? I’ll be keeping an eye on the Calder Cup playoffs since the old Rats are in it (BEAT THE BEARS!), and I also have my annual entry in the AHL site’s Calder Cup Challenge. Of course baseball season is in full swing, I’m trying to watch/listen to the Yankees when I can (hoping to make my first Stadium visit of the season soon…stay tuned). Outside of that…doing normal stuff I guess, I have a couple of “home” parties for Miche handbags and the Pampered Chef coming up. As of now I’m not planning on any more live hockey for the time being, but if the opportunity arises…you never know.

Devils Year 1 Review, Part 3: What I Learned…

To wrap up my season in review, I shall list the many things I learned and experienced this year through a fan standpoint…

-When I first read the roster and saw Louis Robitaille’s name, I cringed. Great, the turtle is coming to town. But once I got to know him and his adorable little boy Kayden, I actually learned to like the guy. Of course he’s still a turtle. And it’s comical how in every road arena there’s always at least the one person who sits at the player entrance and chirps him, knowing full well he’ll insult them back.

-Zac Rinaldo is a douchebag.

-Something tells me after this year Adam Henrique may not come back next season. Very impressed with his first year here, and I know how New Jersey likes to take prospects ASAP (Brian Gionta, Brendan Morrison come to mind from the River Rats days).

-Zack Fitzgerald was the 3rd man in ref! Sorry, had to be there last Saturday to get that joke.

-Not too happy with the Devils organization for making Mike McKenna discontinue his Twitter account. I could have had him following me by now, damnit. Well…or not.

-Zac Rinaldo is a douchebag.

-Best road trip this season for me? Has to be my one overnight trip in January to Wilkes-Barre. Great facility, great game presentation, great fanbase. And I’m not just saying that because I’m friends with 3 of the biggest Pens fans around.

-Most fun event this year had to be the Booster Club Bowlathon in January. For one day it was like hanging out with the guys…from that came Team Perky and the never paid off $100 trick shot bet. And Harry Young actually cracked a smile.

-To the AHL schedule makers: When you plan out Albany-Adirondack games for next year, can they all not be back to back to back? It’s already bad enough we play them 12 times, but can we at least spread it out a little?

-And also on that note, how about at least 2 more games against Connecticut? I think the Devils-Rangers dynamic would draw more interest. And the fact I haven’t been to Hartford since 2007.

-I will give the Devils credit, they did do the postgame autographs a little better than the Rats did. More opportunities, better set up, and instead of missing key people, you had a chance to get everyone. Problem was there were so many autograph sessions I ran out of items for the guys to sign!

-The two third period comeback wins were probably some of the most exciting game activity I have seen in that arena. You never expected this group of guys to come back from 3 goals down the way they did, especially Chad Wiseman getting the 4 straight goals. That will likely never happen again.

-Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson and Mark Fayne, we hardly got to know you and you were gone. You could probably include Nick Palmieri in that group too. That’s what injuries and a dismal start on the parent club will do to affect the affiliation.

-The other day the AHL announced a reduction from 80 to 76 games, eliminating 4-in-5 stretches. Does that also mean not as many 3-in-3 weekends? Players aren’t the only ones trying to get through it, try working the second job and scheduling when you’re writing the previews around all the games.

-Did I mention Zac Rinaldo is a douchebag?

-What started out as a way to get used to the BlackBerry keyboard at the first preseason game in October actually became something I was able to keep up with all season. And made a lot of new friends in the process, from other AHL fans to Devils Army Generals. I thank you all for following along. And for reading this too.

Devils Year 1 Review, Part 2: By the Numbers…

In Part 1, I gave the stats. For Part 2…thought I’d have some fun with numbers. Team, myself, whatever I could think of related to the past season. Here we go:

5,235: The attendance figure for the first Devil home opener on October 9th.

1,323: Lowest attendance mark, on December 1st vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

5,944: Highest attendance mark, on February 20th vs. Adirondack.

3,114: Final average attendance.

So there you have it. I may update this entry on occasion if anything else comes to mind. Stay tuned for the 3rd and final installment of the season review…

84: Team high penalty minutes in a game, on January 21st in Hershey. If only Louis hadn’t run Sabourin…

8: Number of AHL cities I saw at least one game in this season (Albany, Adirondack, Binghamton, Syracuse, Springfield, Worcester, Wilkes-Barre, Bridgeport)

50: If I counted right, number of games I went to this year.

4: Penalty shots, 2 on each side. Michael Swift and Adam Henrique were successful, Dave Caruso stopped Nicolas Blanchard in Charlotte, and Paul Byron scored on Mike McKenna.

47: Number of players who appeared in at least one game for the Devils.

20: Number of players who appeared in at least one game for both Albany and New Jersey.

9: Number of Albany players who made their NHL debut this season.

9: Most goals given up by Albany to an opponent, to the Phantoms on April 1st.

6: Most goals scored in a game, accomplished 5 times: January 15th vs. Springfield, January 25th at Bridgeport, March 16th at Syracuse, March 19th at Norfolk, March 29th vs. Adirondack.

4: Most goals by one player, Chad Wiseman in the comeback win over Bridgeport on March 9th.

9:03: Time it took in the 3rd period for Wiseman to score all 4 goals.

8:59: Time it took on February 18th for the Devils to score 4 times in a comeback win against the Sharks in Albany. Ironically enough, the winning goal was by recently acquired Steve Zalewski, who was a Shark.

1: Second left on the clock after Binghamton scored the winning goal in overtime on February 19th. Talk about karma.

8: Most fights in one game, accomplished against Syracuse on March 13th in Albany, a 4-1 win.

4: Number of times Pierre Luc Leblond and Hershey’s Joel Rechlicz fought. Yes I looked it up.

0: Number of wins against Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Manchester, and Portland.

30: League rank for points, attendance, and power play success.

Devils Year 1 Review, Part 1: Stats…

Welcome to the first day of the offseason for me…and I get to celebrate with an 80 degree day.

So I was thinking, with the first Devils season in the books, how would I look back and review what happened. What I figured I’d do is break it down into a couple of entries. Tonight, with the daily AHL stats report as my guide, I figured I’d present some final individual and team statistics for the season and show where the team ranked in various categories. And it’s not exactly pretty. So let’s begin:


Overall: 32-42-1-5. Home: 15-22-0-3. Road: 17-20-1-2.

Leading point scorers (top 5): Matt Anderson (55), Adam Henrique (50), Chad Wiseman & Steve Zalewski (44), David McIntyre (30)

Goals leader: Adam Henrique (25)

Assists leader: Matt Anderson (32)

Plus/Minus leaders: 3 way tie between Stephen Gionta, Tim Sestito and Dan Kelly (+7)

Penalty Minutes leader: Pierre-Luc Leblond (334 minutes)

Power Play goals: Adam Henrique (8)

Short-handed goals: Brad Mills (3)

Game Winning goals: Adam Henrique (5)

Wins: Mike McKenna (14)

Shutouts: Jeff Frazee (2)

Minutes: Mike McKenna (2,062)

Save Percentage: Jeff Frazee (.902)

Goals Against average: Jeff Frazee (2.90)

Now for some league rankings:

Record: 32-42-1-5, 70 points. 8th in division, 15th in conference, 30th overall.

Attendance: Average of 3,114. 30th overall.

Penalty minutes: 1,927 for an average of 24.09 per game. 1st overall. Also 1st in minors (486), 2nd in majors (127), 1st in 10 minute misconducts (25).

Power play: 13.6%. 29th overall.

Penalty kill: 77.1%. 30th overall.

Short-handed goals: 12. Tied for 2nd.

Goals per game: 2.71. Tied for 23rd.

Goals against: 3.54. 30th overall.

Reading over the stats, I noticed something…these guys don’t behave. But seriously, it’s kind of the truth. Not being disciplined and taking lots of penalties was the team’s downfall. The goalies can only do so much with a shorthanded defense or offensive line. Something hopefully addressed for next year.

Coming soon: what I learned this season and some fun by the numbers…

Albany-Bridgeport Pregame Notes

A few things to know before the Devils and Sound Tigers take to the ice at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard:

-Season: This is the 4th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 2-1 lead. Last matchup was on March 9th in Albany, a 5-4 comeback win for the Devils highlighted by Chad Wiseman’s four goals in nine minutes stretch.

-Standings: The Sound Tigers begin the day in 7th place in the Atlantic Division, with a 29-39-4-7 record and 69 points. They trail 6th place Springfield by 4 points. Albany stands in 8th in the East with a 32-41-1-5 record and 70 points, trailing 7th place Adirondack by 2 points. It’s a close race between Bridgeport, Albany, and Rochester to stay out of the league basement (BPT 69, ALB 70, ROC 71), the Devils need a win in regulation to keep from falling further and also hope Lake Erie defeats Rochester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton beats Adirondack (they have 72 points; the Devils would tie them for 7th with a win).

-Scoring: Bridgeport is lead by AHL All-Rookie Team member Rhett Rakhshani with 62 points (24 G, 38 A), followed by Rob Hisey with 47 points (15 G, 32 A). The goaltending situation has finally calmed down between Bridgeport and the parent NY Islanders, rookie Mikko Koskinen (11 wins) and Nathan Lawson (6 wins) share the duties, Koskinen was the goalie in net when Chad Wiseman went on his goal scoring tear. On the Albany side…Matt Anderson has basically clinched the team scoring title with 55 points (23 G, 32 A), still behind him is Adam Henrique with 50 points (25 G, 25 A). Henrique was MIA last night in the home finale along with Alexander Urbom, usually in that case it means they’re going up to New Jersey (it was reported that the Devils planned on a callup for the season finale this afternoon…I think I have the answer). No idea who will get the nod in goal for the last day, Jeff Frazee returned to the lineup last night and backed up Mike McKenna, and Dave Caruso was last seen at the arena loading up his red pickup truck with his goalie gear, signaling the end of the line for him. McKenna did very well in a shootout loss to Portland, but Frazee seems to be more of the prospect the Devils want to see. So we shall see.

Game time: 3 PM. One more game till summer. Also the end of the 9 Days of Devils, we have reached Day 9. I will be making the trek to Connecticut and have the updates…

Albany-Portland Pregame Notes

A few things to prepare you for Devils-Pirates at the Times Union Center:

-Season: This is 2nd and final matchup between the two teams, with Portland winning the only previous matchup 5-2 on November 13th in Maine.

-Standings: The Pirates begin the day in first place in the Atlantic Division, with a 46-24-6-2 mark and 100 points. They lead second place Manchester by just 2 points, the magic number to clinch the division title is 1. Albany stands in 8th place with a 32-41-1-4 record and 69 points, 1 point behind 7th place Adirondack.

-Scoring: Portland is lead by newly crowned AHL Rookie of the Year Luke Adam with 62 points (29 G, 33 A), followed by Paul Byron with 52 points (25 G, 27 A). Former River Rat training camp participant David Leggio has stepped into the starting goaltenders role with Jhonas Enroth going up to the parent Sabres, racking up 22 wins in the process. For the home side…still the same top 2, Matt Anderson with 54 points (22 G, 32 A) and Adam Henrique with 50 points (25 G, 25 A). My guess is Mike McKenna gets the nod tonight despite coming in relief of Dave Caruso the night before in Springfield, keeping with the every other game rotation.

Game time: 7 PM. It’s the home finale for 2010-11. And it’s Day 8 of the 9 Days of Devils. I will be on hand with the updates…