Week 17 Recap: Post Break Roller Coaster

On paper, it looks like a decent week for the Devils, as they went 2-1.  But how they got there?  A sweep, falling asleep, then pulling off something they haven’t done all season long.  It was one of those weeks where you got just a little bit of everything.

1/29 at Lehigh Valley: 4-1 W

It was back to work after the All Star break, as Albany hit the road to take on the Phantoms for the final time this season.  Things got started in a hurry for the visitors, as Joe Whitney scored his 17th of the season for a 1-0 advantage.  The Devils carried that momentum into the second as Mike Sislo and Ben Thomson scored just 1:22 apart for a 3-0 advantage.  The Phantoms would get on the board thanks to a Zack Stortini (?!?) 5 on 3 power play goal midway through the third, but it was too little, too late.  Brandon Burlon would get an empty netter late to seal the victory, and a 4 game series sweep of their former Adirondack neighbors.  Scott Wedgewood had a strong game, stopping 35 of 36 shots, picking up his 7th win and #1 star of the game honors.  Tim Sestito had two assists in his return to the Albany lineup, being reunited with Whitney and Paul Thompson on the top line.  Five other Devils had one assist each.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Alexandre Carrier

Extra: Scott Timmins, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg, Ben Johnson

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Joe Faust

Reece Scarlett/Mike Keenan

Extra: Seth Helgeson (susp), Raman Hrabarenka

1/30 vs. St. John’s: 4-1 L

It was back home for the beginning of a two game set against the team that ended the Devils Calder Cup hopes last season, St. John’s.  While the Devils were taking care of things in Allentown, the IceCaps got plenty of rest waiting for them to come home, and it showed.  On the first shot of the game on either side, Carl Klingberg would give the visitors a 1-0 lead.  Tim Sestito would tie it up on an unassisted goal midway through the first.  Chase Balisy would add a power play goal late in the period for a 2-1 advantage.  All that despite Albany outshooting the IceCaps 9-5.  Second period, shots were at a premium…seven combined on both sides.  But the IceCaps would go up 3-1 on a John Albert shorthanded goal, the 4th allowed by the Devils this season.  Keaton Ellerby would seal it with a goal late in the third, giving St. John’s the win and ending the Devils point streak at 7 games.  Scott Clemmensen only had to face 15 shots, but he could only stop 11 of them, while Sestito was the only Devil to get any point.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Darcy Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-David Wohlberg-Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Scott Timmins, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, Kelly Zajac, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Corbin McPherson/Mike Keenan

Extra: Raman Hrabarenka, Joe Faust

1/31 vs. St. John’s: 2-1 W (SO)

Less than 24 hours later, it was time for a rematch.  And much like Friday night, it was the IceCaps getting off to a good start.  John Albert would score on a power play late in the first period for a 1-0 advantage.  Second period, the Devils took over and bunkered down, only allowing St. John’s one shot the entire period.  And they also managed to tie the game up on a great Reid Boucher breakaway power play shot, his 12th of the season.  After a very uneventful third period, it was on to overtime, where Albany found themselves in a huge hole thanks to a questionable Tim Sestito slashing call, which turned into the ever popular Sestito penalty: extra two minutes and a 10 minute misconduct for arguing.  (Side note: it was almost surprising to see Sestito at all after a shot to the face in the third period.  But he’s a Sestito, he was back out there in 5 minutes.)  A 4 on 3 for a majority of overtime looked very daunting, but the Devils and goaltender Maxime Clermont were up to the challenge, killing off the entire 4 minutes.  It was almost a letdown to have to see the game go into a shootout after that, considering the 0-5 record Albany has in the bonus round.  But not on this day, as Clermont stopped all three St. John’s shooters and Reid Boucher scored in round 3 to pull out the victory, the first bonus round win of the season for the Devils.  Clermont was outstanding in net, stopping 23 of 24 in 67 minutes and 3 more stopped shootout attempts, improving his record to 4-0 and earning #1 star honors.  He even picked up an assist on Boucher’s goal.  Brandon Burlon had the other assist.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Darcy Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson-Chris McKelvie-Alexandre Carrier

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Scott Timmins, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Corbin McPherson/Mike Keenan

Extra: Raman Hrabarenka, Joe Faust

Pop Quiz: Prior to Reid Boucher, who was the last Devil to win a shootout with a goal?  The answer upcoming.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

A few close calls, but nothing to see here.

My Player of the Week:

Before Saturday, I had no idea who would get the nod.  But after Saturday, it became quite clear.  When Maxime Clermont is in net, it’s almost a guaranteed win now.  He’s really the unsung hero of this year’s team, being stuck at #3 on the depth chart behind Scott Wedgewood and Scott Clemmensen.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (22)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (38)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (82)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (7)

GAA: Maxime Clermont (1.94)

Save Percentage: Maxime Clermont (.921)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 30 GP, 8 G, 9 A, 17 Pts, -11, 23 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 21 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 Pts, +8, 11 PIM

Injury Update:

Kelly Zajac sat out Friday and Saturday after taking a hit Thursday night in Allentown, but is expected to return shortly.  No time tables for Scott Timmins, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, or Raman Hrabarenka.

This Week’s Schedule:

The month of February kicks off with a short two game road trip.  Wednesday the Devils make their only (and final) visit to Manchester to face the Monarchs.  Then Friday night it’s off to Springfield to take on the suddenly slumping Falcons.  Then on Saturday it’s the annual attempt by me to beat them at bowling (all for a good cause), so stay tuned.

Pop Quiz Answer: The last Devil before Reid Boucher to score a shootout winning goal?  It was Mike Sislo, back on April 16 in Portland (well, Lewiston at the time).  He scored in round 4 to help seal a 3-2 Devil win, one that clinched them a Calder Cup playoff spot.

 

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