With the playoffs now but a distant memory, all the Devils had left to finish the 2012-13 season was three home games, two against teams fighting for their playoff lives and one last visit from their Northway rivals. And it was a very good fight to the finish, as they snapped a near month long losing streak and changed the Calder Cup playoff picture. Time for the final weekend recap of the season:
The weekend began with a visit from the Whale, who was in the midst of fighting for one of the bottom two playoff spots. The game also marked the debut of 2012 2nd round draft pick Damon Severson, sporting the cursed #8 (worn by Matt Corrente and Adrian Foster, among others. We all know what happened to them, hence the curse). Unlike recently, the Devils came to play, with only pride and jobs for next season left on the line, as they outshot the Whale 9-5. But Kris Newbury would get the visitors on the board first with a goal halfway through the first. But Harri Pesonen (originally Mattias Tedenby, but the scorer would change it later in the night) would tie it on a power play and both teams scrambling in front of the net. Severson would notch his first pro point with the primary assist. Keith Kinkaid would put on a goaltending clinic early in the second, making quite a few acrobatic stops on the Whale. But Christian Thomas would give Connecticut a 2-1 lead with just over 8 minutes to go in the period. But Pesonen would again match, scoring the tying goal just under 3 minutes later. On ice, it was a quiet third period to start out, as neither side took a penalty. Just after the announcement that the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect was in custody (prompting a celebration from the group of drunk Ranger fans in Section 122 and a few “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants), it was only fitting that a native of Boston would step up for the home team. Joe Whitney would score his team leading 26th goal with just under 5 minutes to go in regulation for a 3-2 lead. Connecticut would pull the goalie late, but they could not re-tie it, hence ending Albany’s six game losing streak. Kinkaid had a solid night in net in his first appearance since returning from New Jersey earlier in the week, stopping 21 of 23 Connecticut shots. Severson finished at an even plus/minus in his debut, mostly being paired with Jay Leach and playing in all situations. Jon Merrill had another strong outing, adding an assist of his own (paired with Corbin McPherson with Alexander Urbom up in New Jersey). Four other Devils added an assist each.
The Devils once again had a chance to play playoff spoiler as they welcomed the Admirals, who were locked in a four way tie for the last two spots in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It became very obvious early on who the stars of this game were going to be: both goaltenders, as no one could get anything past Jeff Frazee or Admirals goaltender Frederik Andersen. Norfolk would outshoot Albany 12-9 in the first. Second period, it was more of the same, as Frazee stopped all 10 shots and Andersen 8. The other story of the period? The Devils falling victim to quite a few non calls…and two interference calls that left us shaking our heads. The goaltending duel would continue long into the third period…I was expecting them to go into overtime and a shootout scoreless. But finally, finally, someone would solve the goaltending stalemate…with 2:33 to go in regulation, David Wohlberg shot it 5-hole past Andersen for a 1-0 Devil lead. Mike Sislo would add an empty netter with 15 seconds remaining to seal the Devils second straight win…and seriously spoil the Admirals’ chances to defend their Calder Cup title. Frazee was magnificent in his last start of the season, stopping all 31 Norfolk shots in pitching his first shutout all year. Harri Pesonen had the lone assist, and Corbin McPherson and Seth Helgeson lead the way with +2 ratings.
To close out the year, what better than a visit from the neighbors to the north, a Phantoms team the Devils dominated all season (much like their parent counterparts). First period was all Devils, as they outshot the visitors 9-3 and Harri Pesonen would score with 1:32 remaining in the period for a 1-0 lead. But Adirondack would pick up the pace in the second. Marcel Noebels would tie the game with a power play goal 6 minutes in, then a fluke bounce off the goalpost and past Keith Kinkaid would put the Phantoms ahead 2-1. Blake Kessel would increase the lead to 3-1 with 58 seconds to go in the period. He would add a second goal just three minutes into the third for a 4-1 advantage, spelling the end of the day for Kinkaid and a call to the bullpen for Scott Wedgewood. But Albany wasn’t quite done yet…Mike Hoeffel would score shorthanded to cut the lead to 4-2, but that was all the Devils could do, and the season ended on a sour note. Kinkaid stopped 13 of 17 shots, while Wedgewood was a perfect 8 for 8 in just under 17 minutes played. Another good outing for Damon Severson, as he added an assist and finished a +2. Tim Sestito and David Wohlberg also had assists.
There was a Obligatory Fight Of The Week out of Cam, however no video proof has surfaced as of press time. So in its place, what we kind of wished happened on Saturday:
When all was said and done, the Devils finished 6 points out of the playoffs, landing in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They landed one point behind Bridgeport for 11th, and 2 points ahead of 13th place Worcester. Just to show how strong the East Division is in comparison to the Atlantic and Northeast: that division landed 4 out of 5 playoff spots, with Norfolk the lone team on the outside (which means we’ll have a new Calder Cup champion come June). Springfield was the only Northeast Division team to get in, while the Atlantic Division has three teams out of five.
-As mentioned earlier, Keith Kinkaid returned to Albany on Tuesday after Johan Hedberg returned to backup duty. He did not see any time in net in his latest callup. Alexander Urbom was recalled on Wednesday under emergency conditions, but has yet to make an appearance in a game.
-Raman Hrabarenka returned to the lineup Friday evening after being out since St. Patrick’s Day. Mattias Tedenby suffered a cut finger during Friday night’s game and was held out the final two games. Matt Anderson, Dan Kelly, both Zajacs, Chad Wiseman, and Stefan Stepanov all sat out the final weekend with assorted injuries.
The parent Devils have 3 games to go in the regular season. After that, it’s going to be a very long offseason for the organization. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Calder Cup playoffs, since many of my AHL counterparts will be involved.
Also this week? My annual 3 part Season in Review. You’ll see those on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. After that, I’ll be updating on here as needed. I do plan on a draft entry and will be doing the annual Free Agent Tracker as well starting in July.