With the upcoming road trip to Norfolk kicking off in about 10 hours (for me; the Devils are en route as I write this), I decided to do the weekly recap a little differently this week, splitting it into two entries. One with last night’s game and some injuries/transactions of note. The other will cover the weekend down in Virginia (and maybe a bonus entry depending on what happens to Norfolk’s streak). So let’s begin with last night’s fun:
3/21 vs. Worcester: 6-5 W
Before setting off for Norfolk, the Devils had a home game to tend to, battling a team that they had issues with early in the season in the Sharks. First period was probably the best the Devils have played all season. The scoring started early with a Brad Mills power play marker just three minutes into the game. Stephen Gionta followed that with a goal of his own just under four minutes later for a 2-0 lead. Two minutes later it became a 3-0 Devil lead thanks to Myles Stoesz’s (yes he has been playing folks) first goal of the season. He celebrated by taking on Worcester heavyweight Frazer McLaren just 8 seconds later in a pretty good bout. For Round 2 (which didn’t look like much of a fight to me but the referees thought so), Eric Gelinas (not a fighter) and Brandon Mashinter (who is one) battled in the corner. Matt Irwin then put the visitors on the board about a minute later for a 3-1 game. Tim Sestito gave the Devils another 3 goal cushion with a power play goal three minutes later. Then to top off the first, Harry Young had a nice bout with the Sharks’ Matt Pelech (who was seen fixing his hair pre-bout…yeah buddy got to look good before getting your face smashed in). The Devils outshot the Sharks 16-7 for the period.
Now on to the second…27 seconds into the period Mills scored his second power play goal of the evening for a commanding 5-1 Devil lead. Or so we thought. Brian O’Hanley cut the deficit to 5-2 three minutes after the Devils 5th goal. About 10 minutes and more pushing and shoving later (including a nice takedown of Taylor Doherty by Stoesz), it became a 5-3 game thanks to a Tim Kennedy power play marker. Jack Combs made it 5-4 with less than a minute left in the second. Despite the Shark rally, Albany continued to throw shots at Worcester goalie Harri Sateri, outshooting their visitors 17-11 for the period.
Third period there was a secret goalie switch, Jeff Frazee suddenly appeared in net to take over for Keith Kinkaid (no injuries involved…just to switch things up). With Tim Sestito in the box for an apparent slashing call (and a 10 minute misconduct for opening his mouth to the refs AGAIN…apparently while Tom’s the fighter of the family Tim’s the talker), John McCarthy completed the Worcester rally with a power play goal to tie it at 5. But Vladmir Zharkov made things right, scoring the game winner with 5 and a half minutes to go to seal a much, much needed Devils win. Outside of the blown lead, it was a pretty good night all around…the Devils went 3 for 5 on the power play (but 1 for 3 penalty kill) and outshot Worcester 46-28 (I believe that’s their most shots on goal all season). Frazee earned the win in relief, stopping 9 of 10 shots. Kinkaid was fine till the Shark rally got going, managing to stop 14 of 18. All but 5 Devil skaters registered at least one point, with Joe Whitney’s 3 assists leading the way.
-Two roster moves announced on Tuesday…first was the signing of 2007 3rd round draft pick Corbin McPherson to an amateur tryout agreement. He is a defenseman (something the Devils really need right now) who just finished his collegiate career at Colgate (teammate of former Devil David McIntyre), where he contributed 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in 39 games and served as team captain. He warmed up last night but ended up scratched in favor of Alexander Urbom’s return. Forward Bryan Haczyk was also recalled from Kalamazoo, his second trip up of the season (he was recalled for a weekend in November but did not dress). He did not warm up and was a healthy scratch, so I wonder if he’s insurance on the Norfolk swing.
-Now for the injury update: As I just mentioned earlier, Urbom returned to the lineup after sitting out almost a month. Jay Leach is back in town and is starting up skating again, he may actually be back earlier than expected. Matt Corrente and Nathan Perkovich sat out last night, but both may play this weekend. Dan Kelly is walking in a boot after taking a shot off his foot (much like what happened to Mike Banwell in Bridgeport), he thinks he’ll be back in a week or so. Chad Wiseman, Darcy Zajac, Mike Sislo and Mike Banwell are still out, definitely not playing this weekend.
Now to set up the weekend: I will still have game previews on Friday and Saturday, Friday at 4:30 and Saturday at 4:15. I’ll be mostly commuting via bus back and forth between Virginia Beach (where the Booster Club is staying) and Norfolk, so expect a lot of travel related tweets. And the possible return of the #BlameKoharski Twitter hashtag…we found out last night that Jamie Koharski is reffing both weekend games (groan).