Back to Earth

It’s been a pretty good ride during the month of December for the Devils, as they had yet to lose during the month and had earned standings points in eight straight games.  But with all good things, it had to come to an end at some point, and the streak came to a halt just before Christmas break, with just one of four points earned in two road games.  Recapping a brief two game weekend:

12/21 at Binghamton: 3-2 L (OT)

It was back west to the Southern Tier for the second time in 14 days for a matchup with Binghamton, who had halted a seven game winless streak the night before.  Unlike in recent games, it was the opponent getting off to a fast start.  Mark Stone would score 3:22 in for a 1-0 Senators lead.  Harri Pesonen would tie the game early into the second period.  Mike Hoffman would give Binghamton the lead back on a power play goal, stemming from the second questionable goaltender interference call on Albany in the game (in both cases, a Devil was pushed into the Senators net by a Binghamton player, but the referee would call the penalty).  Pesonen would re-tie the game with just over 6 minutes to go in regulation.  It was off to overtime for the second time in the season series, where just 1:08 in Cole Schneider would score the game winner on Keith Kinkaid, breaking the Devils 6 game win streak.  They did extend their point streak to 9 games by getting to overtime.  A hard luck loss in net for Kinkaid, as he stopped 26 of 29 shots.  Three Devils added assists, including Scott Timmins, who finally returned to the lineup for the first time since November 8th.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Artem Demkov

Mike Sislo-Harri Pesonen-Kelly Zajac

McKelvie-David Wohlberg-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Harry Young/Burlon

Also seen: Burlon/Hrabarenka (power play); Kelly/McPherson (penalty kill); Kelly/Scarlett, Helgeson/Burlon

12/22 at Bridgeport: 4-3 L

It was back to Bridgeport for the second matchup in 12 days against the Sound Tigers, a team Albany has pretty much dominated for the season thus far.  Harri Pesonen picked up where he left off the night before, scoring fresh out of the penalty box (after serving an extra two minutes for Joe Whitney) for a 1-0 lead.  Things got quite chippy during the first period, as two fights broke out and even Whitney got in on the action (hence the extra penalty from earlier).  The Sound Tigers controlled play during the second period, outshooting the Devils 12-3 and getting six power play chances.  John Persson would tie the game up with a power play tally.  But during a later kill, Scott Timmins would score his first goal since his return in a shorthanded situation to reclaim a 2-1 lead.  Alan Quine would score on another power play to retie the game.  Then came the killer call…Rod Pelley was served a five minute boarding major late in the second, and Bridgeport would take advantage in the third.  Mike Halmo, the man Pelley boarded to draw the penalty, scored during that five minute stretch to put the Sound Tigers up 3-2.  But Albany wasn’t done quite yet…Mike Hoeffel would score on a rare Devil power play chance to retie the game at 3.  Just as it appeared the two teams were going to overtime and the Devils point streak would be extended to 10, a fluke play happened.  Scott Wedgewood made a save on one shot, but Whitney crashed into him just outside his net, leaving it open for a rebound goal by Dallas Jackson to put the Sound Tigers up 4-3 with 1:33 to go in regulation.  The Devils could not answer and in turn, the point streak ended at 9 games, and Bridgeport won against the Devils for the first time in the 5 game season series.  A tough day in net for Wedgewood, as he stopped 22 of 26 shots.  Three Devils added assists, but the real story of the day was special teams play: Albany’s power play went 1-for-6, but the penalty kill went 8-for-11.  On that note, both teams combined for 81 penalty minutes.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Artem Demkov

Harri Pesonen-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Mike Hoeffel-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Riley Boychuk-David Wohlberg-Sislo

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Harry Young

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Sunday’s game had quite a few bouts to choose from.  For the first time all season, I give you two bouts for the price of one.  First, what happens when you board Chris McKelvie:

For the other, what happens when you chirp and attempt to go after Mike Hoeffel:

My Player of the Week:

When you provide 60 percent of the team’s offense on the weekend, it’s a slam dunk decision.  Harri Pesonen gets the nod this week.  Honorable mentions to Mike Hoeffel and Scott Timmins for the rest.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (10)

Assists: Joe Whitney (19)

Points: Joe Whitney (29)

Plus/Minus: Reece Scarlett (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (52)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (11)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.09)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.919)

Elmira Update:

A tough pre-Christmas week for the Jackals, as they were swept in Cincinnati in a two game set against the Cyclones.  Maxime Clermont drew the start on Friday night, stopping 26 of 31 shots in a 5-0 loss, then sat out on Saturday with the flu.  He is now 4-6-0 with a 3.30 GAA.

Notes:

-With Scott Timmins returning to the lineup on Saturday, Darcy Zajac remains the lone injured Devil.  And it appears he may not return until spring.

-Harry Young sat out on Sunday after getting banged up in Binghamton on Saturday.  He said postgame he was okay (typical hockey player response), so we shall see if he returns this weekend.

-Stefan Matteau has made the final cut for the United States WJC squad, so he will not be back in Albany until after the new year.

This Week’s Schedule:

After three days off for Christmas, the Devils get right back to work with a 3 in 3 weekend to close out 2013.  Friday night they play host to the Phantoms, followed by a visit from Portland on Saturday afternoon.  Then it’s back to Bridgeport for the third time in the month of December for an afternoon tilt against the Sound Tigers.

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