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.