Week 23 Recap: The Defense Takes Over

After a good trip to Newfoundland, Albany started a season long six game homestand with a 3 in 3 weekend against teams all in the playoff picture, hoping to scrape away at their deficit to get back into the playoff picture.  But three goals and three out of six points later…nothing much gained.  And time is starting to run out.

Friday: Much earlier than I expected, but the first amateur tryout of the season has arrived, in the form of Brown University forward Matt Lorito.  He just completed his senior season with the Bears, scoring 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 games while serving as team captain.  For his four year collegiate career, he has a total of 106 points (47 goals, 59 assists).  He was also a 2014 New Jersey rookie camp invitee.

3/13 vs. Worcester: 3-2 W

The homestand kicked off Friday evening with a visit from the Sharks, who began the evening just inside the playoff picture.  Albany got off to a great start in the first period, not allowing a shot on goal for nearly 9 minutes and taking a 1-0 lead on Paul Thompson’s 25th goal of the season.  Captain Rod Pelley would double the lead just after a power play opportunity ended.  But Worcester would mount a rally in the second period.  Just as their third power play would expire, Taylor Fedun cut the lead in half.  Later in the period, during a 4 on 4 opportunity that should not have been (what many in house thought was a dive was called a tripping penalty on Joe Whitney), Karl Stollery would tie the game up at 2.  But Albany took the lead back for good in the third thanks to Darcy Zajac’s 7th goal of the season, picking up their second straight win and extending their March point streak to 3 games.  Yes, it took just 3 games for Albany to match their entire win total for the month of February.  Scott Clemmensen played well in net, stopping 27 of 29 shots (you could probably credit 2 or 3 of those to Raman Hrabarenka, he was swatting pucks near the crease away quite a bit) and picking up win #6.  Zajac and Pelley also added assists, and Tim Sestito and Corbin McPherson had one helper each.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

3/14 vs. Syracuse: 2-1 L

21 hours later, Albany was back on ice, this time taking on the first place Crunch.  It appeared the Devils would get a break when former RPI goaltender Allen York drew the start instead of Kristers Gudlevskis (the Crunch are in the midst of a 3 in 3 weekend of their own).  After a relatively quiet first period, things would shift in favor of the Crunch in a big way in the second period.  Joe Whitney was called for a match penalty for cross checking Syracuse’s Luke Witkowski (I had my complaints about the call, but honestly from my angle in the corner it was hard to see the actual incident), giving the visitors a 5 minute power play.  And they would capitalize just 30 seconds in, as Jonathan Marchessault would score to break up the scoreless duel between York and Scott Wedgewood.  Albany just could not seem to get any breaks offensively, seeing at least 3 good scoring chances just miss the net or hit off the post.  Carter Ashton would score an empty netter with 18 seconds remaining to seal the win…and it was very fortunate that happened, because Raman Hrabarenka would break up York’s shutout bid with just 3.6 seconds left on the clock.  But it came too little, too late, as Syracuse won it’s 6th out of 7 matchups against Albany this season.  Wedgewood played very well in the loss, stopping 21 of 22.  David Wohlberg and Ben Thomson had the lone assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Joe Faust

3/15 vs. Springfield: 1-0 L (SO)

Without Whitney in the lineup due to automatic suspension from Saturday’s penalty, the Devils had to shake up the lines for their final game of the weekend against the Falcons, who began the day holding the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.  Kelly Zajac returned and was back on second line duty, while Chris McKelvie made his first appearance of the weekend, going in for Ben Thomson.  And even Joe Faust made an appearance, going in for Brandon Burlon.  Other than another mini scrum, nothing across in the first, as Albany outshot the visitors 11-4.  The Falcons woke up in the second and had 15 shots, but Scott Wedgewood stopped all of them.  The only thing stopping anyone?  A glass delay.  More scoreless hockey in the third, including some very good saves from Wedgewood.  But despite 14 shots, the Devils could not get anything at all past Falcons goaltender Scott Munroe.  It was on to overtime, where Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau had good shots at ending things, but still, nothing was getting by Munroe.  So finally things went to a shootout, where someone had to score to finish this epic goaltending duel.  Unfortunately only two Falcons, T.J. Tynan and Sean Collins were able to get the puck in net.  Paul Thompson and Mike Sislo had their chances, but couldn’t get the puck in, and Springfield earned the extra point.  It was the Devils sixth shootout loss and the sixth shutout of the season.  Wedgewood was the very hard luck but deserved much better loser in net, stopping all 33 shots in 65 minutes, but couldn’t finish it in the bonus round.

Highlights:

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Graham Black-Tim Sestito

Tim Sestito-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Joe Whitney, Cam Janssen, Ben Thomson, Matt Lorito, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Joe Faust

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon

Conference Standings:

After Sunday’s action, here’s how everything stands in the East:

8. Springfield–73 points

9. Worcester–70

10. St. John’s–66

11. Lehigh Valley–65

12. Albany–65

13. Binghamton–60

The magic number to clinch a postseason spot stands at 38, while the tragic number now sits at 24.  Again, this is if I did the math right.

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

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well…since no video has surfaced as of yet from Sunday’s festivities…let’s go to the Devils vault.  Found this classic double feature from 5 years ago.

My Player of the Week: Tip of the cap to Scott Wedgewood, who despite going 0-1-0-1 on the weekend played brilliantly in net, stopping a total of 54 out of 56 shots.  If only his teammates could have scored more than one goal for him over those two games…

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (25)

Assists: Joe Whitney (26)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Graham Black (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (98)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (9)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.58)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.906)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 39 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -17, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 42 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 Pts, +7, 18 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 33 GP, 0 G, 9 A, 9 Pts, +3, 26 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, +3, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 17 GP, 8-5-0, 2.78 GAA, .904 Save Pct.

Injury Update: Since there’s no injuries to report…this will be more like a suspension update.  Cam Janssen finished serving his sentence on Sunday and is eligible to return on Wednesday.  Joe Whitney served one game after getting a match penalty on Saturday, but it is yet to be determined if he will have to sit out any longer.

This Week’s Schedule: The homestand continues with 3 more games.  Wednesday and Saturday the Devils play host to Norfolk, the last opponent Albany has yet to face this season.  Then Sunday afternoon they take on Hartford.

Pop Quiz Answer: The Albany goalie with the most wins in one season?  It was Peter Sidorkiewicz, who went 31-23-6 in 62 games played during the 1996-97 season.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s