Making it Interesting

We have come to the end of March…and the good news is the swoon that normally would knock the Devils out of playoff contention never came to pass for the first time in the franchise’s existence (well at least here anyway).  But the latest 3 in 3 weekend did not start out well, but the team rebounded to grab 3 out of 6 standings points and keep their position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

3/28 at Hershey: 4-1 L

A critical start to the weekend slate, as the Devils traveled south to Hershey to take on the Bears, a team just on the outside looking in at 9th place in the Eastern Conference.  Albany got off to a good start, outshooting the hosts 12-7 and getting a late fluky power play goal off the stick of Stefan Matteau to take a 1-0 lead.  After a scoreless second period, the Bears mounted a rally in the third and took control.  Dane Byers would tie the game midway through the period on a power play.  Chay Genoway would follow five minutes later with a shot off the point that sailed over the shoulder of Scott Wedgewood to put the Bears ahead 2-1.  Brandon Segal would seal things with two goals in a span of 58 seconds (one power play, one into an empty net), pushing Albany into 7th place in the conference.  Outside of the third period, it was a very good night for Wedgewood, who finished with 22 saves on 25 Hershey shots.  Kelly Zajac and Mattias Tedenby had the lone assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac

David Wohlberg-Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Chris McKelvie (inj), Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Reece Scarlett (inj), Brandon Burlon

3/29 vs. Worcester: 4-3 L (SO)

It was back on real home ice for the first time in10 days as Albany welcomed the Sharks for its only visit of the season.  On a day where Union College was advancing to the Frozen Four in Bridgeport, it was only fitting that the goalie matchup was two recent alums, Keith Kinkaid for Albany and Troy Grosenick for Worcester (and a rematch of March 9th in central Massachusetts, a game won by Worcester in a shootout).  Stefan Matteau would get the home team on the board in the first with his second goal in 2 days and 13th on the season.  Just as the Sharks would tie things up, Mattias Tedenby answered 21 seconds later with his 9th for a 2-1 lead.  Worcester would re-tie the game at 2 just as the first period was ending, then took their first lead 6 minutes into the second period.  But Kelly Zajac would answer with a power play goal past his former college teammate later in the period to re-tie the game at 3.  And it would stay that way, through the third and into overtime, leading to another shootout showdown between the Union goalies.  Kinkaid allowed only one goal, to Dan DaSilva, in the 3rd round.  But Grosenick would stop Reid Boucher, Mike Sislo, Tedenby, Matteau, and Joe Whitney in the final round to pick up the extra point for the Sharks.  Kinkaid finished with 28 saves on 31 shots.  The line of Tedenby, Zajac, and Matteau provided virtually all the offense, with just Alexander Urbom and Scott Timmins contributing one assist each.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Rod Pelley

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac

Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extra: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

3/30 vs. Binghamton: 3-2 W (SO)

To finish off the latest 3 in 3 and a brief 2 game homestand, the Devils welcomed the Senators, who had just taken over first place in the East and the #3 spot in the conference.  Matt Puempel would put the B-Sens ahead 6 minutes into the first.  Reid Boucher would tie the game on a power play midway through the second.  Alex Grant would take the lead back with a shot from the point with just under 3 minutes to go in the period.  David Wohlberg would then re-tie the game midway through the third.  The game would carry over into overtime, where despite a 4-0 shot advantage, the Devils could not get the game winner past Senators goaltender Scott Greenham.  It was on to the shootout for the second straight day, where Greenham and Scott Wedgewood would stop all 4 chances each in the first four rounds.  In the fifth round, Rod Pelley stepped onto the ice (in a change of pace, I guess) and got one past Greenham.  Wedgewood would stop Derek Grant to finish off the win and get the all important extra point, which pushed Albany back up to 6th place in the conference.  Wedgewood had a much better outing compared to Friday night, stopping 23 of 25 shots in 65 minutes and all 5 shootout attempts.  Four Devils each had assists.  And only two penalties were called the entire game, all on Binghamton…no penalty kills to speak of.

Lines:

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Mike Hoeffel-Reid Boucher-Rod Pelley

Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg-Harri Pesonen

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extra: Adam Larsson (possibly injured?), Reece Scarlett

Conference Standings:

Still a tight race for spots 5-8:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-84

6. ALBANY-82

7. Providence-81

8. Norfolk-77

9. Hershey-76

Knowing the history of the Bears, I would not completely count them out just yet.  They have not missed the playoffs since the ’04-’05 season, when they were affiliated with Colorado (Washington took over the following season).  Especially after their performance on Friday night.  Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot stands at 13 as we enter the month of April.  No March swoon this year, finally!

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No gloves dropped this week.

My Player of the Week:

Instead of one player, I’m giving it to one whole line…the line of Mattias Tedenby, Kelly Zajac and Stefan Matteau, who have been on a roll recently.  They were responsible for virtually all the offense the first half of the weekend.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (23)

Assists: Kelly Zajac (30)

Points: Joe Whitney (50)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+16)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (91)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.40)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.909)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Not a good weekend for the Jackals, as they were swept in a 3 in 3 by Reading and Wheeling, putting their record at 22-36-3-5 with 6 games to go in the regular season.  Artem Demkov returned to the lineup on Saturday and scored in back to back games.  Harry Young even had a goal on Friday night, breaking up a Reading shutout bid in the third period.

As for the Solar Bears…a much better showing, as they went 2-1 against Cincinnati and Evansville to put their record at 40-22-2-2, good for first place in the South Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  An up and down week for Maxime Clermont, as he got the start Wednesday against the Cyclones and was pulled in the second period after stopping 22 of 27 shots.  He got a chance at redemption Saturday night at home against the IceMen, coming in relief in the second period and stopping all 12 shots faced in a 5-4 win.

This Week’s Schedule:

An all road 3 in 3 weekend starts the month of April.  Friday night the Devils travel west to Syracuse to play the Crunch.  Saturday night it’s south down Interstate 81 to Wilkes-Barre for a crucial matchup against the Penguins.  Finally, back north Sunday afternoon to Glens Falls for the final matchup against the Phantoms (be sure to have your Billy Joel ready!).

Also this week…the annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, I’ll have an entry up about that by Wednesday.

 

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