Week 20 Recap: Streak’s Over, But…

Another 3 in 3 weekend has come and gone, and the February struggles continue.  But at least there was finally a win, and maybe some signs of life, albeit too late, in another game.

Friday: With most everyone back healthy and in the lineup, Mike Keenan and Alexandre Carrier were reassigned to Orlando.  Keenan started out on a PTO in early December and played himself into an AHL deal.  In 20 games he had one assist and finished a -3.  Carrier appeared in 12 games and was scoreless, but did have two fights against former Devils (PL3 and Matt Corrente) under his belt.

2/20 at Syracuse: 3-1 L

The road trip began west down the New York State Thruway, as Albany made its third visit of the season to the Oncenter to take on the Crunch, who was also in the midst of a 5 game winless streak (but had three OT loss points to show for it).  Yanni Gourde would get the hosts on the board first with a tip in past Scott Wedgewood midway through the first period.  Jonathan Marchessault would double the lead early in the second period when he managed to drag the puck past Wedgewood and into the net.  But there was good news this period…an actual power play goal from Albany!  Kelly Zajac finally scores his first of the season to cut the lead in half.  But that would be as close as they would get, as Vladislav Namesntnikov would capitalize on a turnover and score alone on a breakaway to make it 3-1, pushing the losing streak to six games.  Wedgewood stopped 21 of 24 shots, including a few spectacular saves, but it was not enough as he took his 12th loss of the season.  Paul Thompson and Brandon Burlon had helpers, while Cam Janssen returned to the lineup for the first time since mid January.

Highlights:

Lines:

Paul Thompson-Tim Sestito-Stefan Matteau

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Chris McKelvie

Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extra: Scott Timmins, Ben Johnson, David Wohlberg, Ben Thomson

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

2/21 at Utica: 2-1 W

The middle game of the weekend saw the Devils make their only visit of the season to Utica to take on the Comets.  Utica got on the board first midway through the opening period on a Brandon DeFazio goal.  Albany caught a break later when a second Comets goal was disallowed due to an offsides call.  And that would be a game changer…Ben Thomson would tie the game up at 1 late in the second period with his 7th of the season.  Reece Scarlett would break the tie early in the third with his second of the season.  Despite being outshot 10-4 in the third, Albany would manage to hold on for the win, breaking a 6 game losing streak and extending their win streak against Utica to 6 games.  Scott Clemmensen picked up his 5th win and first since beating Bridgeport in Newark exactly one month earlier, stopping 31 of 32 shots.  Thomson and 3 other Devils each had assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Ben Thomson*

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen*

Extra: Scott Timmins, Stefan Matteau, Ben Johnson, Darcy Zajac

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

*Since I was in New Jersey and didn’t see the game, the last two lines are at best a guess.

2/22 at Springfield: 4-2 L

17 hours and about 160 miles later, it was off to western Massachusetts to finish off the weekend against the Falcons.  And Springfield got things going in a hurry, as Thomas Larkin scored 42 seconds in for a 1-0 lead.  Then with Mike Sislo sitting 4 minutes on a questionable spearing call, Sean Collins would double the lead.  Brian Gibbons, just recently reassigned by Columbus to the Falcons, would score his second of the year on a power play early in the second for a 3-0 advantage.  But the Devils were not about to go away quietly, as they made an attempt to rally in the third.  Raman Hrabarenka and Kelly Zajac would score on back to back power plays 1:16 apart late in the third to get to within one goal.  But Gibbons would put an end to the comeback with his second power play goal of the game for a 2 goal lead.  Then at the final whistle…

A total of 80 combined penalty minutes were handed out as a result, mostly game misconducts from abuse of officials.  Albany reached two season highs: penalty minutes (77) and shots (41).  Scott Clemmensen started in back to back games and stopped 17 of 21 shots.  Four different Devils had assists.

Highlights:

(sadly the video cuts out just the end of game festivities were starting)

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Extra: Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Ben Johnson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Monday: With Keith Kinkaid getting injured halfway through Saturday’s win over Carolina at The Rock, Scott Clemmensen was recalled to New Jersey to play door man…er, back up Cory Schneider under emergency conditions.

Pop Quiz: Who holds the Albany AHL record for most penalty minutes in one season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

YouTube has seriously been dropping the ball lately.  Two good candidates but no video up.  You could always just review the Utica game tape for Dan Kelly avenging Raman Hrabarenka’s absence from the lineup…

My Player of the Week:

Very happy to finally see Kelly Zajac get on the board twice this weekend.  It’s been a lost season for the third Zajac brother, good to see him back and contributing.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (23)

Assists: Joe Whitney (24)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (41)

+/-: Paul Thompson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (94)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (7)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.75)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood/Scott Clemmensen (.900)

ECHL Update:

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

Eric Baier (Orlando): 32 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts, +6, 11 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -2, 2 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 23 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, Even, 16 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 12 GP, 6-4-0, 3.63 GAA, .877 Save Pct.

Injury Update:

Last one standing is Scott Timmins (lower), he is expected to return this weekend.  Darcy Zajac did sit out Saturday and Sunday, not sure if injury related or not.

This Week’s Schedule:

As if the month of February wasn’t already punishing…another 3 in 3 weekend to close the month out is up next.  Friday it’s one last visit to Syracuse to take on the now league leading Crunch.  Saturday they travel south on Interstate 81 to pay Hershey one last visit.  Then the month of March kicks off on home ice, as Binghamton visits for the first time all season.

Also back next weekend: conference seeding updates!

Pop Quiz Answer: The man with the most penalty minutes in one season while wearing an Albany uniform?  It was Matt Ruchty, who set the record during the  River Rats Calder Cup winning 1994-95 season with 348 minutes.  Pierre-Luc Leblond holds the Lowell/Albany franchise record with 334 in the 2010-11 season, incase anyone was wondering.

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