Week 19 Recap: Getting Frigid

The February flop continues.  3 games, 3 days, 3 straight losses.  But at least players are getting healthy…and someone other than Mike Sislo can score a goal.  Baby steps!

Friday: Albany is back down to two goaltenders on the roster as Maxime Clermont was reassigned to Orlando.  He did very well since his recall on Christmas Eve, going 4-0 with a 1.94 GAA and a .921 save percentage.  He is also the only goalie to win a shootout this season.

2/13 vs. Hershey: 1-0 L

After a 7 day layoff, it was back to work to start a 3 in 3 weekend, hosting the Bears on home ice.  The game marked the return of four players from injury: Raman Hrabarenka (out since late November), Graham Black (out since early January), Kelly Zajac, and Rod Pelley.  And Tim Sestito was back skating after a scary moment last Friday in Springfield.  It was a relatively uneventful first period…Albany outshot Hershey 12-8 and managed to kill off a 5 on 3 Bears power play chance.  Albany had a golden opportunity to get on the board early in the second thanks to a full 5 on 3 power play early in the second.  But the special teams continued their recent struggle, not getting anything past Bears goaltender Philipp Grubauer.  Stanislav Galiev finally broke the scoreless tie 13 minutes into the second period for a 1-0 Bears lead.  Albany tried to get the equalizer, but simply could not get anything past Grubauer, and were shut out for the 5th time this season.  Scott Wedgewood was feeling like Cory Schneider in net, playing very well but getting stuck with the loss, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  The Devils also amassed a season low 4 penalty minutes, all in the first period.

Highlights:

Lines:

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Paul Thompson (personal), Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

2/14 at Hartford: 5-2 L

It was off to Connecticut’s state capital for the first time since December as Albany kicked off a Valentine’s home and home weekend series with the Wolfpack.  Mike Sislo finally broke a cold spell for the special teams play, scoring on a power play in the first to get the Devils on the board.  With Joe Whitney serving a cross check call (one of 5 Devil penalties called in the first alone), Rod Pelley became the first Devil other than Sislo to score a goal in February, getting one shorthanded for a 2-0 lead.  But all those calls would catch up to Albany, as the Wolfpack got on the board late in the first with a Chris Mueller power play tally.  Hartford would tie the game up midway through the second on a Danny Kristo goal.  The game stayed tied and very tight…until 5 minutes left in the third period, when everything for the visitors would just fall apart.  During a full 4 on 4, Tyler Brown and Mueller would score 18 seconds apart to give the Wolfpack their first lead of the night.  Kristo would add an empty netter with 1:15 remaining for the exclamation point, giving Albany their fourth straight loss.  Up until that last 5 minutes, Scott Clemmensen played great in net, but would get tagged with the loss in stopping 26 of 30 shots.  Darcy Zajac had the lone helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

2/15 vs. Hartford: 4-3 L

Roughly 17 hours after the final horn in Hartford, the two teams resumed the home and home series, this time in the Capital Region.  Hartford got on the board twice in a 13 second span in the first, as Danny Kristo and Conor Allen each scored on Scott Wedgewood for a 2-0 lead.  Mike Sislo would continue his hot February with his 13th goal less than 3 minutes later to cut the lead in half.  But Ryan Bourque would restore the two goal lead just over a minute after that.  Paul Thompson would score his 23rd (and first goal since January 24th) to make it a 3-2 game.  Albany thought they tied the game early in the third, but after a video review it was believed the shot off Seth Helgeson’s stick hit the iron.  But Sislo would come through again, tying the game up with his second of the day.  Just as it looked like this game could go into overtime…not to be.  Chris Mueller would score the game winner with 3:47 remaining in regulation, giving Hartford the weekend sweep and extending Albany’s losing streak to 5 games.  Wedgewood stopped 19 of 23 shots in taking the loss.  Joe Whitney added two assists, while Kelly Zajac and David Wohlberg each had a helper.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Ben Johnson-Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Graham Black, Reid Boucher, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Pop Quiz: What is the Albany AHL record for most times shut out in a season?  Stay tuned for the answer.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

One fight, but no video proof.  Stay tuned…

My Player of the Week:

Apparently again Mike Sislo seems to be the only goal scorer this month, adding three more to his season total and moving up the franchise career list.  He is now tied with Tim Sestito for second with 59, but it may take awhile to catch Joe Whitney, with 80 and counting.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (23)

Points: Joe Whitney (40)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (89)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (7)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.79)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.900)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 33 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 28 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts, +8, 11 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 10 GP, 5-4-0, 3.69 GAA, .874 Save Pct.

Injury Update: After the weekend, only two remain on the indefinitely list: Scott Timmins (lower) and Cam Janssen (upper).

This Week’s Schedule:

The month of February is not going to get any easier for this group, as they begin a 5 game road trip, starting with another 3 in 3 weekend.  Friday night they travel to Syracuse to take on the suddenly slumping Crunch.  Saturday night they make their one visit on the season to Utica to face the Comets.  Then a quick turnaround and back east to Springfield on Sunday afternoon to face the Falcons.

And I will be making my return to New Jersey for the Carolina game on Saturday!

Pop Quiz Answer: The record for most times shutout in a season?  It’s the 2003-04 River Rats, who were shut out 13 times.  The top 5 leading scorers that year, incase you’re wondering: Craig Darby (69 points), Steve Kariya (48), Joe Hulbig (45), Jiri Bicek (30) and Tuomas Pihlman (29).  Remember them?  The Lowell/Albany franchise record stands at 8, the 08-09 Lowell Devils and in 2012-13.  Fun fact: the 09-10, 98-99, and the Calder Cup winning 94-95 teams were only shut out once the entire regular season.

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