Game 9: Albany vs. Syracuse

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY,

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting of 6.

Standings:

Syracuse: 4-2-1-0, 7 points, 4th place in East Division

Albany: 5-2-0-1, 11 points, tied for 2nd in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Need To Know:

-After a slow start, the Crunch are on a 3 game winning streak, coming off a shutout of Bridgeport on Saturday evening at home.

-The Crunch leadership has a distinct River Rat flavor: captain Mike Angelidis spent four years in Albany during the Carolina years (2006-10), while assistant captain Joey Mormina spent one season in the Capital District (2007-08).  Also on the roster: former Devil Matt Taormina.

Crunch Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Nikita Kucherov, 11 points (6 G, 5 A); Matt Taormina, 9 points (2 G, 7 A); Vladislav Namestnikov, 8 points (4 G, 4 A)

Kristers Gudlevskis, 1-0-0, 0.00 GAA; Riku Helenius, 2-1-0, 2.35 GAA; Cedrick Desjardins, 1-2-0, 3.53 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch

On The Offensive

With a successful trip south under their belts, the Devils looked to continue their best ever start to the season.  And the streak continued for two more days…with a near 24 hour stay in first place in the division…then a lapse in the final game knocked them back to reality just a bit.  Reviewing the week that was…

10/23 at Utica: 4-1 W

The week began with the first ever trip for the Devils to Utica to take on the Comets, in their inaugural home opener.  And it was all Devils from the beginning, outshooting the hosts 10-5 and scoring twice.  Joe Whitney and Jon Merrill (on a power play) scored 26 seconds apart 8 minutes into the period for the two goal advantage.  Chris McKelvie would add his first of the season halfway through the 3rd for a 3 goal cushion.  The Comets would break up Keith Kinkaid’s shutout bid with just under 7 minutes to go in the game, but Whitney would add his second of the night on an empty netter with 32 seconds left to seal the Devils second straight win and fifth game with at least one standings point.  Kinkaid stopped 22 of 23 shots in picking up his second win of the season.  Reid Boucher added two assists, and Scott Timmins notched an assist to continue his season long point scoring streak.

*Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Stefan Matteau

Harri Pesonen-David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel

*Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Jon Merrill/Brandon Burlon

*-I was not around to listen in/watch, all the info I had was from the official scoresheet.  Some of these are guesses/possible process of elimination.

10/25 vs. Hartford: 4-3 W

It was back home for the first time in 11 days as the Devils welcomed the Wolfpack to start a 4 game homestand…and to avenge the loss on Opening Day three weeks earlier.  Harri Pesonen had a chance to give Albany the early lead when he was awarded a penalty shot, but was denied by Wolfpack goaltender Jeff Malcolm (who was making his pro debut…I just figured Hartford had an open casting call before heading west for goaltending with both regulars up with the Rangers).  Ryan Bourque would give the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead halfway through the period.  Mike Hoeffel, in just his second game of the season, would score his first of the season late in the period to tie it at 1.  Second period was all Albany, as they scored 3 times and outshot Hartford 11-4.  Stefan Matteau finally scored his first of the season to put Albany up 2-1.  Jon Merrill would follow up with a power play goal (his second of the week) for a 3-1 advantage.  To top it off, Scott Timmins continued his season long point streak with his fourth goal of the season for a 4-1 (yes the dreaded three goal) lead.  The Wolfpack showed some signs of life in the third after switching goaltenders to start.  Pesonen was awarded his second penalty shot of the game early on in the period, but was denied yet again.  Nearly 30 seconds later, Andrew Rowe scored to cut the lead to 4-2.  With the goaltender pulled late and on a power play to close the game, Aaron Johnson would score to make it a 4-3 game.  But that’s all Hartford could do, and the Devils held on for their third straight win.  Scott Wedgewood played solid in his third victory of the season, stopping 23 of 26 shots.  Six Devils all added one assist each.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau

Mike Hoeffel-Tim Sestito-David Wohlberg

Cam Janssen-Kelly Zajac-Chris McKelvie

I did see McKelvie-Sestito, Pelley-Timmins, and Zajac-McKelvie on the penalty kill, also a Wohlberg-Hoeffel-Matteau line at one point.

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Dan Kelly

Jon Merrill/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

10/26 vs. Portland: 5-2 L

To finish out the week, the Devils welcomed the Pirates for the first of four matchups.  Jordan Martinook gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead on a shorthanded breakaway shot past Scott Wedgewood.  Then quite the scary moment happened late in the period, as Seth Helgeson sent  Jordan Szwarz into the glass…and shattering it all over a poor family in Section 103 (watch for it here around the :58 mark), causing the game to go to intermission early for cleanup and tending to the injured.  Once everything settled down, it was back to hockey.  Scott Timmins continued his scoring streak with his 6th to tie the game at 1 8 minutes into the regular 2nd period.  But Gilbert Brule would give the Pirates the lead back nearly two minutes later on a power play.  Reid Boucher would retie the game 5 minutes into the third with his second of the season, but Brett Hextall would put Portland up for good with 9 minutes left.  He would add the first of 2 empty net goals late in the third (the first shorthanded) to give the Pirates the win.  Not the greatest of days on special teams…0 for 6 on the power play with 2 shorthanded goals allowed, but 4 for 5 on penalty kills (despite what seemed like some very one sided calls from the referee as well).  Wedgewood stopped 20 of 23 Portland shots in a hard luck defeat, while four Devils contributed one assist each.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher

Kelly Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

Tim Sestito-David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel

I did see a Zajac-Matteau-Hoeffel PP combo and Hoeffel take Janssen’s spot with McKelvie/Zajac as well.

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well, we knew this would happen eventually…

My Player of the Week:

I ended up splitting it between two members of what I’m considering to be the top line: Joe Whitney and Scott Timmins.  Whitney scored three times (2 in Utica on Wednesday), while Timmins is continuing his stellar start to the season by registering a point in all 8 games so far.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (5)

Assists: 4 players with 5

Points: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (19)

Plus/Minus: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (+5)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (3)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood/Keith Kinkaid (1.97)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.920)

Notes:

-The first callup came on Wednesday, and not surprising it was Eric Gelinas answering the call, filling in for Bryce Salvador (personal).  He made his season debut Thursday night against the Canucks at The Rock, scoring his first NHL goal (on, naturally, a power play) in a shootout loss to the Canucks.  He also played in New Jersey’s comeback win over Boston on Saturday night before being reassigned to Albany earlier today.

-Keith Kinkaid became callup #2 when he was summoned to New Jersey to backup Martin Brodeur in Boston with Cory Schneider out.  He too was reassigned to Albany this morning.

-Kelly Zajac was the last member of the roster to get in a game, making his season debut Wednesday in Utica filling in for his injured older brother and notching an assist.

-Speaking of Darcy, it appears he will be out indefinitely after getting injured Saturday night in Norfolk.  Mike Sislo also sat out all three games after getting hurt in Norfolk, but he should begin skating again next week.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another busy 3 game week.  Wednesday the defending Eastern Conference champions from Syracuse make their first visit of the season.  Friday night Norfolk comes in for their third matchup to kick off November.  Finally on Saturday, the first regular season visit to Glens Falls to take on the Phantoms.

Game 8: Albany vs. Portland

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting of 4.

Standings:

Portland: 1-3-0-1, 3 points, 4th place in Atlantic Division

Albany: 5-1-0-1, 11 points, tied for 1st place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Need To Know:

-Portland is coming off its first win of the season on Wednesday night against Hartford.

-Due to an ongoing legal battle with its regular home the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates have temporarily moved up to Lewiston for its entire home schedule.

Pirates Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Andy Miele, 8 points (5 G/3 A); Brandon Gormley, 5 points (0 G/5 A)

Mark Visentin, 1-1-1, 2.27 GAA; Mike Lee, 0-2-0, 3.61 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WLOB-AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @PortlandPirates

Game 7: Albany vs. Hartford

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Hartford leads 1-0.

Standings:

Hartford: 5-1-0-1, 11 points, 1st place in Northeast Division

Albany: 4-1-0-1, 9 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Need To Know:

-The Wolfpack finally suffered its first regulation loss on Wednesday night at home against Portland.

-Hartford has also seen both goaltenders (Cam Talbot & Jason Missiaen) and 3 of its forwards (Brandon Mashinter, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider) recalled to the Rangers this week due to injuries and early season struggles.

-This is the start of a 4 game homestand for the Devils.  Stay tuned for what goal song is used…

Wolfpack Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 players tied with 8 points

Listen: AHL Live, FOX Sports 1410 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfpackAHL

Game 6: Albany at Utica

Where: Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY.

When: 7:35 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany: 3-1-0-1, 7 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Utica: 0-3-0-0, 0 points, 5th place in North Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-It’s the official home opener for the Comets, the last team in the AHL to play on home ice.

-Utica is also the last team without a standings point, after losing their 3rd straight to Rochester Saturday night.

Comets Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 players tied with 4 points

Joe Cannata, 0-1-0, 4.00 GAA; Joacim Eriksson, 0-2-0, 4.08 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, 94.9 K-ROCK

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils, @CometsInGame

Just Crushing It…

Coming into basically the first full week of the season, things were looking good for the Devils.  After a hard luck opening loss, they rebounded in their home opener to beat Utica.  With the first matchup against their neighbors to the north and the annual Norfolk trek looming, the goal was to build off Saturday’s success.  And they did just that, taking a possible five of six standings points (and were a shootout away from a perfect week…yes that old habit came to haunt them).  Reviewing the week that was:

10/14 vs. Adirondack: 4-1 W

The week began with a Monday afternoon matchup–and the first of 12 this season–against the Phantoms.  A very busy first period saw Albany kill off 4 Adirondack power plays (both referees were, shall we say, a little whistle happy when it came to Albany?) and score twice on 10 shots.  Joe Whitney got the home team on the board late in the first with a power play tally.  Then with 10 seconds left in the period, Tim Sestito was awarded and scored on a penalty shot for a 2-0 advantage.  Second period was more Devils, as they killed off 3 more Phantom power play chances and notched their second power play goal of the day, this one off the stick of Scott Timmins for a 3-0 lead.  Things finally settled down during the third, but Scott Wedgewood lost a shutout bid on a Rob Bordson goal to cut the lead to 3-1.  But it was Sestito to the rescue again, as he scored his second of the day with just under 6 minutes to go in the game for a 4-1 advantage.  Wedgewood played very well in his season debut, stopping 24 of 25 Phantom shots and earning #2 star honors.  Reid Boucher added two assists in the win.

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Rod Pelley

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Harri Pesonen-David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito

Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie

Extras/Scratches: Mike Hoeffel, Kelly Zajac

The line shuffler was in effect again, as later on I saw Pesonen-Matteau-Sislo (during a PP), Boucher-Timmins-Janssen (there’s a head scratcher), McKelvie-Pelley-Sislo, and Sestito-McKelvie-Zajac.

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Eric Gelinas

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Seth Helgeson

Extra/Scratch: Corbin McPherson

Later on I saw Burlon/Scarlett and Merrill/Scarlett for a few shifts.

10/18 at Norfolk: 2-1 L (SO)

The Devils packed up and headed south to Virginia for the first of back to back matchups with the Admirals.  Both teams traded power play goals in the first period, Steven Whitney (the younger brother of Joe) 7 minutes into the period, followed by Eric Gelinas’s first of the season about 6 minutes later.  After that, it became a tale of two goalies, as both Keith Kinkaid and John Gibson kept both teams off the scoresheet.  And there were barely any penalties called earlier, which is a little surprising since Jamie Koharski (of #BlameKoharski fame) was running things.  After 3 periods was not enough to settle things, it was off to the first overtime of the season for Albany.  The Devils had at least 3 good chances to end it, but Gibson stopped all 4 Devil shots, while Kinkaid only faced 1 from the Admirals.  It was on to the one thing the Devils probably did not want to see happen: the shootout, where last season Albany dropped 12 of these.  And the team picked up right where it left off, as Gibson stopped Mike Sislo, Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau, and Joe Whitney, while Kinkaid allowed Joseph Cramarossa and Devante Smith-Pelly to score.  All this despite the Devils outshooting Norfolk 32-22, staying out of the penalty box (only two power plays for Norfolk all game), and more or less dominating in their zone, only to walk away with just one point.  Kinkaid stopped 20 of 21 shots in regulation and overtime.  Jon Merrill and Scott Timmins had the lone assists, while Gelinas took an astounding 9 shots on goal.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Mike Sislo-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Cam Janssen

Extras/Scratches: Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac

Later line combinations: Sestito-Hoeffel-McKelvie, Pelley-Boucher-Sislo, Whitney-Timmins-Pesonen, Sestito-Wohlberg-Matteau, Pelley-McKelvie-Hoeffel.

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Eric Gelinas

Reece Scarlett/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Brandon Burlon

Extra/Scratch: Corbin McPherson

10/19 at Norfolk: 2-1 W (SO)

For the rematch, just a few lineup changes: Scott Wedgewood got the start, while Corbin McPherson and Darcy Zajac switched spots with Reece Scarlett and Mike Hoeffel.  But it turned into the same goaltending duel as the night before, as neither team was able to get a goal across in the first.  Scott Timmins put the visitors on the board halfway through the second on a power play goal (yes, another one!).  The story of the game came in the third, when with 5 minutes left in regulation (and McPherson sitting in the box due to one of those wonderful delay of game calls), Charlie Sarault tied the game at 1-all.  Just shortly after that, a very scary moment: Mike Sislo was crushed on a center ice hit by Norfolk’s Devante Smith-Pelly.  A stretcher and the EMT crew was called out, but not needed as Sislo was able to get up and skate off with help.  To add insult, Brandon Burlon was penalized for going after Smith-Pelly after the hit…but Smith-Pelly got nothing.  Albany managed to kill off the ensuing penalty kill and it was off to overtime for the second straight night.  The Devils outshot Norfolk 3-0 in the extra session, but could not get the game winner past John Gibson, who was spectacular once again in net.  It was on to another shootout, where for once Albany was successful.  Stefan Matteau and Joe Whitney scored in the second and third round (Reid Boucher missed in round 1), while Wedgewood stopped all 4 Norfolk shooters.  Albany managed to escape Virginia with 3 out of 4 standings points, a rather successful trip considering their history in that building (and it goes back to the Devil Rats days, I always cringed when it was Norfolk weekend).  Whitney and Eric Gelinas had the lone assists, while Wedgewood won his second straight by stopping 25 of 26 shots in regulation and overtime.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Mike Sislo-Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley

Harri Pesonen-David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito

Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

Extra/Scratches: Mike Hoeffel, Kelly Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Eric Gelinas

Seth Helgeson/Brandon Burlon

Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson

Extra/Scratch: Reece Scarlett

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

As of now, no video has yet to surface from last night’s two bouts.  Stay tuned to this space.

My Player of the Week:

I found it easy to pick this week’s honoree…2 wins, 49 saves on 51 shots in those two games, and 4 for 4 in the first shootout win of the season…how could I not pick Scott Wedgewood?

Team Leaders:

Goals: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (3)

Assists: Scott Timmins/Jon Merrill (4)

Points: Scott Timmins (7)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (17)

Plus/Minus: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (+3)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (2)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (0.96)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.961)

Notes:

-What was basically a formality became official on Friday, as the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals announced an affiliation agreement with the Devils.  They began their regular season Friday night in Wheeling against the Nailers, losing 3-2.  Maxime Clermont took the loss, stopping 15 of 18 Nailer shots.  Since Elmira is only a 3 hour drive west of Albany, if the schedule and weather allows I may make the drive to check on the prospects playing there.

-At the beginning of the week, there was only one injury that I was aware of: forward Kelly Zajac, who has been out since camp with an undisclosed ailment.  After last night, two more may be added to the list: Darcy Zajac left after the second period after a fight with Norfolk’s Peter Holland, and there is no update on Mike Sislo’s condition after the center ice hit he took.

This Week’s Schedule:

A busy week with three games, but all much closer to home.  Wednesday night the Devils make their first trip west to Utica for the Comets home opener.  Then it’s the beginning of a four game homestand, with Hartford visiting on Friday night and Portland coming in on Saturday afternoon.

Game 5: Albany at Norfolk

Where: Scope Arena, Norfolk, VA.

When: 7:15 PM.

Season Series:

Norfolk leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany: 2-1-0-1, 5 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Norfolk: 3-1-0-1, 7 points, 2nd place in East Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-Old habits die hard for these Devils, as success in the shootout eluded them yet again last night.  They had a AHL record 12 shootout losses in 2012-13.

-Last night’s #1 star?  None other than rookie forward Steven Whitney, the younger brother of the Devils’ Joe, who scored a first period power play goal.

Admirals Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

3 players tied with 4 points

John Gibson, 1-1-1, 2.21 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WXTG 1490 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates

Game 4: Albany at Norfolk

Where: Scope Arena, Norfolk, VA.

When: 7:30 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting of 4.

Standings:

Albany: 2-1-0-0, 4 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Norfolk: 2-1-0-1, 5 points, 2nd place in East Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-The schedule makers are getting the longest distance road trip of the season for the Devils out of the way early this year.

-The last time the Devils had any success in Virginia was on January 6-7, 2012.  They stunned the Admirals with a 5-4 OT decision on the 6th, followed by a 3-1 victory on the 7th.

-Norfolk is halfway through their opening 4 game homestand, coming off a split with Binghamton last Friday and Saturday.

Admirals Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 players tied with 4 points each

Frederik Andersen, 2-0-0, 0.96 GAA; John Gibson, 0-1-1, 2.89 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WXTG 1490 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates