Home Sweep Home

Remember last weekend?  It was a pretty much wasted one, with only 1 out of 6 points earned.  Fast forward to this weekend, three games, all on home ice.  And it was a perfect one, as the Devils swept the homestand and moved to within one more win of clinching a coveted playoff berth.  Time for a happy recap of the week:

Tuesday: Two new amateur tryouts were signed just in time for the annual end of season party for the season ticket holders downtown.  Earlier in the day, it was reported that Wisconsin defenseman and 2010 draft pick Joe Faust had signed on.  He appeared in all 37 games for the Badgers this season, posting 2 goals and 12 assists.  The second one I learned about when I walked into the ballroom at the Hilton and took my seat next to him.  He turned to me and introduced himself (a rarity, usually I’m the one having to make the introductions), it’s Graham Black.   The 2012 5th round draft pick just completed his third full season with Swift Current (WHL), picking up 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in 69 games.  And he’s probably one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the organization through the first four years.

4/11 vs. Bridgeport: 2-1 W

The big home weekend kicked off Friday evening with the fifth and final visit of the season from the Sound Tigers, a team Albany had gone 4-0 against on home ice.  An uneventful first period ended on a good note, as the puck bounced off Kelly Zajac and into the net, and video replay confirmed it.  Dan Kelly was originally awarded the goal, but it was changed to the younger Zajac as the second was getting underway.  One of many newcomers on the Sound Tigers (pretty much half the roster is up on Long Island helping the Islanders play out the string), Jesse Graham, would score his first professional goal during a 5 on 3 advantage late in the second to tie the game up.  But Zajac would come through again in the third, breaking the tie 5 minutes into the period for a 2-1 Devil lead.  And Keith Kinkaid took care of the rest, stopping all 7 Bridgeport shots to get the win.  He finished with 22 saves and #2 star of the game honors.  Seth Helgeson and Stefan Matteau had the lone assists.


Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Joe Whitney

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac-Ben Johnson

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Mike Hoeffel, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Curtis Gedig, Joe Faust

Saturday: The first of the reinforcements have arrived, as Eric Gelinas was officially reassigned to Albany.  His last appearance in an Albany uniform was back on February 22nd.  He finishes his New Jersey season with 7 goals and 22 assists in 60 games.  He did not make it back in time to get in the lineup for Saturday’s game.

4/12 vs. Providence: 2-1 W (SO)

Another big matchup as the 6th place Bruins came into town for their only visit.  Despite Albany outshooting the visitors 11-6 in the first, it was Providence up 1-0 on a late power play goal by Zach Trotman.  Defense and goaltending on both sides took over in the second, as Albany only allowed 3 Bruin shots but was unable to get anything of their own past Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg.  Third period the Devils would finally solve Svedberg, as Harri Pesonen scored his 14th 3 minutes into the period to tie things up at 1.  Providence had a great chance to end things late and going into overtime when Albany ended up shorthanded, but the Devils killed off the penalty.  The game would end up going to a shootout…Keith Kinkaid would stop the first three Bruin shooters.  In the third round, Stefan Matteau would connect, but in the fourth round Seth Griffith would tie it up.  Joe Whitney scored in the bottom of the fourth round, then Kinkaid stopped Justin Florek in the fifth round to seal the victory, the 6th win out of 14 shootouts for Albany this season.  Kinkaid had another outstanding performance, stopping 18 of 19 Bruin shots (some acrobatic ones included).  Seth Helgeson had the lone assist.


Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-David Wohlberg

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Ben Johnson

Extra: Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Urbom/Burlon and Kelly/Hrabarenka other pairings

Extra: Eric Gelinas, Reece Scarlett, Curtis Gedig, Joe Faust

Sunday: Tim Sestito was placed on waivers by New Jersey so he can return to Albany.  He did play in the season finale at The Rock, a 3-2 win over Boston (hey, an organizational sweep!) that may possibly be the end for Martin Brodeur in a Devil uniform.

4/13 vs. Syracuse: 4-0 W

The Devils finished off the homestand with one last visit from the Crunch, who escaped with a 1 goal win in their last meeting in central New York.  But this time would be different, with newcomer Charles Lavigne making his first AHL start with Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis up in Tampa.  After a relatively quiet first period, the Devils turned up the offense in the second, scoring 4 times in a span of 6:12.  Reid Boucher would start things on a power play, with a beautiful breakaway shot.  He would add his second goal 3:24 later.  Chris McKelvie would get in on the fun with his 9th goal 45 seconds later.  Finally Reece Scarlett would score his second of the season on a power play.  And that was all Scott Wedgewood would need, as he went on to stop all 20 Crunch shots in picking up his 4th shutout of the season and complete a perfect 3 for 3 weekend.  Harri Pesonen added three assists and finished a +2.


Joe Whitney-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Harri Pesonen

Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Mike Hoeffel, Ben Johnson, Graham Black

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Eric Gelinas/Raman Hrabarenka

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Extra: Alexander Urbom, Brandon Burlon, Curtis Gedig, Joe Faust

Monday: As expected, Sestito cleared waivers and was reassigned, along with Mike Sislo, Jon Merrill, and Adam Larsson.

Conference Standings:

The perfect weekend all but ensured that the Devils would get a playoff spot.  But there’s still some positioning to get settled first:

5. Binghamton–91 points

6. ALBANY–89

7. Providence–89

8. Hershey–86

9. Norfolk–86

As of right now, Albany is looking at a first round matchup against the Penguins.  But with the East Division so close, that could change depending on the week’s events.  With a good week they could even move up to 5th and draw St. John’s (there’s a daunting travel schedule).  The magic number is down to 2: a win in Portland on Wednesday, or an OT/SOL and a Norfolk regulation loss will clinch it.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Sit back and enjoy Darcy Zajac taking on a SNL Killer Bee…I mean, a Providence Bruin…

My Player of the Week:

Out of all the outstanding performances on the weekend, I’m actually splitting it between both goaltenders, as Keith Kinkaid won twice and only allowed two goals (and one in the shootout on Saturday, but that doesn’t really count) followed up by Scott Wedgewood’s fourth shutout of the season.  Honorable mention does go to Harri Pesonen and his four point (1 G, 3 A) effort.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (31)

Points: Joe Whitney (52)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+16)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (100)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (23)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.30)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.912)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

The Jackals finished the season with a 1-2 road trip in Gwinnett and South Carolina, finishing 2013-14 with a 24-40-3-5 mark, good for 56 points and a 12th place finish in the Eastern Conference (also 3rd place of 3 teams in the Atlantic Division).  Riley Boychuk had 5 PIM in Friday’s loss to South Carolina.  Final Elmira stats can be found here.

Meanwhile, down south, Orlando finished up the regular season with a pair of home wins and a shootout loss, finishing with a 43-24-2-3 record and 91 points, finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference.  Maxime Clermont started all three games this week, beating Greenville twice (20 saves in a 3-2 win on Thursday, 35 saves in a 5-4 win on Sunday) and losing to Reading 1-0 in a shootout.  He finishes his regular season with a 5-3-0-1 mark and a 3.35 GAA for the Solar Bears (6-9-0-1, 3.34  with Elmira).  Orlando will take on Cincinnati in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs beginning on Thursday night in Florida.

This Week’s Schedule:

Two games left to close out the regular season slate.  Wednesday night the Devils travel to Maine to take on the Pirates (rescheduled from Friday), the earliest a playoff spot can be in the books.  Then they close it out on home ice Saturday afternoon against Springfield.  After that, we wait to see where the postseason will take them.

As for my end of season review…I may do the first part next week, which is a recap of the regular season stats-wise.  Parts 2 and 3 will likely be whenever the postseason wraps up.  And still figuring out how to cover the first round.


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