Second 3 in 3 of the season for the Devils…and to me, I think they’re finally turning the corner and starting to get it together. They played outstanding against a couple of first place teams and one second place team, snagging four out of a possible six points on the weekend. Time to take a look back at the weekend’s events:
10/21 vs. Hershey: 4-1 L
I’ll admit it, I was a little worried going into Friday night considering Hershey’s history with both Albany teams. I was there the night the Bears dropped a 10 spot on two very good goalies in Justin Peters and Mike Murphy (and a few 8 goal games after that). And knowing how Jeff Frazee had struggled early on, I had a bad feeling of a blowout game. The boys proved me wrong, playing very well against the Bears, but not good enough for a win. The Devils got things going early on, taking an early lead on a Steven Zalewski goal and not allowing the Bears many chances. Matthew Ford tied it up at 1 midway through the first then Cody Eakin scored on the power play late in the period. Despite the one goal deficit, the Devils outshot the visitors 10-7. After that, the Bears turned it up. They outshot Albany 10-7 and added to their lead on a Christian Hanson goal. Albany could only get 2 shots on Braden Holtby in the 3rd and a Boyd Kane power play tally put the game away late for the visitors. Overall, play was much improved compared to the weekend before, especially against a high caliber team, but just not enough to get in the left column.
10/22 vs. Adirondack: 5-2 W
It took a visit from their Northway rivals for the Devils to finally get back on track. It didn’t quite start out that way though… right after Phantom goalie Michael Leighton (one of my all time favorite Rats…so hard for me to cheer against him now) robs rookie Joe Whitney on a breakaway chance, veteran Denis Hamel (or Grandpa as section 114 calls him…sorry can’t call him that when he’s just a year older than me) got the visitors on the board early in the 1st period. Rookie Mike Sislo tied it up at 1 halfway through the period. Second period, it was all Albany, and in the most unlikely of ways…on a power play that had only been 1 for 25 for the season entering the night. Hamel did notch a power play tally to give the Phantoms the lead back, but it was short lived. Rookie Eric Gelinas scored his first pro goal on a power play to tie the game up at 2. Then referee Geno Binda waived off what would have been a go ahead goal for the Phantoms (off the stick of Zac Rinaldo, of all people). Defenseman Peter Harrold gave the Devils the lead for good just after that with the second power play tally of the period (yes the Devils doubled their season power play output in just 4 minutes of play). But they weren’t done yet…less than 3 minutes later Gelinas scored his second on the power play for a 4-2 lead. Third period provided Jeff Frazee’s crowning moment of the season so far…with 3 Phantoms surrounding him and no stick, he put on a major goaltending clinic, stopping about 3-4 shots in succession. And to top off the resurgence of the power play, Matt Anderson added a 4th power play marker late in the 3rd to seal the 5-2 Devil victory. Frazee finally notched his first win of the season, stopping 25 shots and earning #2 star honors (#1 went to Gelinas, who added an assist to go along with his two power play goals).
10/23 at Providence: 3-2 W (OT)
Only the second road game of the season for Albany, and this one went a little better than the first one. Steven Zalewski gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead in the first, then Zach Hamill tied things up late in the period for the Bruins. No scoring during the second period, but Albany outshot the hosts by a 14-7 margin. Third period saw the Devils take an early 2-1 lead on a Dan Kelly (playing as a forward per the radio broadcast instead of his regular position on defense) tally, only to see Hamill score his second with under 7 minutes left. The game went to overtime…and before you could blink, it was over. Tim Sestito scored the game winner just 12 seconds into the extra period and Albany took its second straight win. Rookie goaltender Maxime Clermont made his professional debut and did not disappoint, stopping 28 of 30 shots for his first victory.
-On Saturday Adam Henrique was recalled to New Jersey after Jacob Josefson broke his collarbone Friday night against San Jose and needed surgery.
-Chad Wiseman, Vladimir Zharkov and Mike Hoeffel sat out the weekend with various lower body injuries. Not sure when either will be back in the lineup.
-Alexander Urbom was a healthy scratch both Saturday and Sunday. No reason given.
Only two games on the slate this week: Friday night the Devils travel west on I-88 to Binghamton to face the Senators for the 2nd time this season. Then they return home on Saturday to face the Hamilton Bulldogs, a team no Albany squad has seen since I believe the 07-08 season. I do plan on making the trip to Bingo on Friday (one of my more frequent road trip stops), and of course will be in attendance on Saturday night.