Week 25 Recap: A Sweep, But At A Price

It was a quick two game road trip for the Devils to close out the month of March…okay, so 10 hours to Virginia isn’t exactly quick.  But it was a successful trip on the scoresheet, as Albany swept both games and stayed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.  But it may have taken the loss of three forwards to injury to do so.

3/27 at Norfolk: 4-3 W (OT)

Round 1 came Friday night, and featured a rematch of last Saturday’s 4-3 win in the Capital Region in net, Scott Wedgewood vs. Jason Labarbera.  Joe Whitney would get things started on the right foot…er, skate…with his 19th goal 4 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.  Former Devil Dave Steckel, now Norfolk’s captain, would tie things up with his 5th later in the period.  The special teams play would continue its resurgence as of late, with another power play goal, this one off the stick of Raman Hrabarenka, as the second period was coming to an end, literally (the clock read .2 seconds).  Scott Timmins would give the Devils an insurance goal with just under 8 minutes remaining for a 3-1 lead…or so we thought.  Norfolk was not about to go away quietly, however…Max Friberg would cut the lead to 1 with under 4 minutes to go in regulation.  Then with Labarbera pulled and a successful 6 on 4 penalty kill, Kevin Gagne managed to get the puck past Clemmensen with 1.8 seconds left to force overtime.  Albany would get a test with Whitney off for a hooking call just as the 3 on 3 portion was set to begin.  Not only did the Devils manage to kill it…Rod Pelley would pass the puck to Whitney as he was exiting the box, he broke away and scored the game winner with 21 seconds remaining in the extra frame to give Albany their third straight win.  Wedgewood would pick up his 11th win with 29 saves.  Whitney, Timmins, Pelley, and Seth Helgeson all contributed assists.

Highlights:

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Darcy Zajac-Graham Black-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Max Novak, Alexandre Carrier

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Raman Hrabarenka/Mike Keenan

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

3/28 at Norfolk: 3-1 W

A couple of lineup changes for the rematch on Saturday, as Scott Clemmensen drew the start in net and Alexandre Carrier took Graham Black’s place on the fourth line due to an apparent injury to the rookie.  Things got off to a very chippy start as a hit on David Wohlberg would set the tone.  After Ben Thomson stepped in and fought John Kurtz (who delivered the hit), Paul Thompson would score on the ensuing power play (only interference was called on Kurtz; Wohlberg would not return to the game) for a 1-0 Devil lead.  As the second period was getting underway, Dan Kelly would put a clean hit on Stefan Noesen…and had to answer to Mike Sgarbossa with a bout of his own.  The power play came through yet again a short time later, as Thompson would score his second with the man advantage for a 2-0 lead.  Louis Leblanc would break up Clemmensen’s shutout bid and cut the lead in half a short time later.  Then another hit, this time on Joe Whitney, courtesy of Josh Manson would leave the Devils without two more forwards: Whitney would leave the game favoring a leg, while Rod Pelley had to sit out most of the rest of the contest after fighting Manson.  Two more near fight incidents involving Raman Hrabarenka and Tim Sestito would break out, but peace was finally restored for the third period.  And Thompson would come through again, completing the hat trick (his second of the season) with 2:30 to go and finishing off a perfect road trip for the Devils.  Clemmensen stopped 37 of 38 shots and picked up his 8th win.  Mike Sislo would add two assists, while Whitney and Hrabarenka each had a helper.  Matt Lorito would get his second pro point, assisting on Thompson’s third goal.

Highlights:

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Tim Sestito-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Alexandre Carrier

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Graham Black, Cam Janssen, Max Novak

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Mike Keenan

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Joe Faust

Conference Standings:

As of Sunday morning, here’s how the East stands:

8. Worcester–78 points

9. Springfield–76

10. Albany–73

11. St. John’s–70

12. Lehigh Valley–67

The magic number to clinch a playoff spot stands at 25.  Elimination number stands at 14.  With 9 games left, this is going to go right to the end.

Pop Quiz: With the final game in Norfolk on Saturday…what is Albany’s all time record in Virginia?  The answer is upcoming.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well…all three fights from Saturday are in the second highlight package.  So let’s go into the vault.  From December 2010, back when Darcy Zajac was just an ECHL callup wearing #24…

My Player of the Week:

Or, line of the week.  The top line of Joe Whitney (4 points before injury), Paul Thompson (hat trick) and Scott Timmins (2 points) came through once again.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (29)

Assists: Joe Whitney (29)

Points: Paul Thompson/Joe Whitney (49)

+/-: Graham Black (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (130)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (11)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.45)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.911)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 41 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts, -22, 25 PIM

Eric Baier (Orlando): 48 GP, 8 G, 12 A, 20 Pts, +7, 20 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 11 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 Pts, +9, 0 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 19 GP, 9-6-14, 3.01 GAA, .899 Save Pct.

Injury Update: We’ll have to wait and see on the statuses of Graham Black, David Wohlberg, and Joe Whitney after all 3 were injured in Norfolk.  Reece Scarlett missed the weekend due to illness.  Cam Janssen will be eligible to return Wednesday after serving his two game suspension.

This Week’s Schedule:

We have made it to April.  The homestretch begins on Wednesday night at home against Manchester, who became the first AHL team to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday.  Friday Albany travels east to Springfield for the final matchup of the season against the Falcons.  Then Saturday Binghamton comes to visit, and it’s also the annual Military Appreciation Day at the arena.

Pop Quiz Answer: Since Norfolk entered the American Hockey League for the 2000-01 season, the River Rats and Devils have an all time record of 16-19-3-4 and one tie.  It took 9 tries for Albany to finally get a win at the Scope, on April 8, 2005, a 4-1 River Rat win.

Note: No photo gallery this week.

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