Week 26 Recap: Not Going Away Quietly

A four out of six point week to start the month of April and the proverbial homestretch of the 2014-15 season.  But are these points going to be too little, too late?

4/1 vs. Manchester: 2-1 L

The April slate began on Wednesday with the final ever visit by the league leading Monarchs, fresh off clinching the first Calder Cup playoff spot the weekend before.  Even without the services of a few key players, the Devils held their own during the first…and got a gift goal towards the end of the period.  On a power play, Manchester goaltender J.F. Berube attempted the clear the puck, only to have rookie Matt Lorito steal it and score his second as a professional for a 1-0 Devil lead.  The Monarchs would take over in the second, outshooting the hosts 18-6 and tying the game up on a Nick Ebert tally.  Third period was literally all Monarchs, as it took Albany nearly 16 minutes to register a shot on goal.  Manchester would take the lead shorthanded on a Michael Mersch goal early in the period.  Albany could only manage 3 shots in the final period, all within the last 3:23, and lost ground to the Sharks and Falcons in the playoff chase.  Scott Clemmensen played well in taking the loss, stopping 27 of 29 shots.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Tim Sestito-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Max Novak

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Thursday: Stick taps go to defenseman Dan Kelly, who was named the Albany recipient of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award, given for “outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations.”  He is one of 30 players nominated for the league wide award, to be presented at a later date.

4/3 at Springfield: 1-0 W (SO)

In a scenario that affected not just the two teams involved, the Devils headed east for one last matchup against the Falcons, who were just barely on the outside looking in.  Much like the last time the two teams squared off, it became a scoreless duel between the goalies, as Scott Wedgewood and Scott Munroe were not allowing anything to get past them.  The only action at all during regulation?  A fight between Cam Janssen and Josh Anderson.  After a combined four play chances–3 for Albany, 1 for Springfield–didn’t produce anything, it was on to overtime.  Springfield had a huge opportunity to end the game on a 4 on 3 when Mike Sislo would get called for a hook with 2:16 to go, but the Devils would manage to kill it off and go to the shootout, where Springfield had a 5-0 record going into the night.  After Paul Thompson and Sislo were stopped, Wedgewood stopped T.J. Tynan and Sean Collins.  Then finally in round 3, it was the rookie again to the rescue…Matt Lorito would finally break the scoreless deadlock.  Wedgewood would stop Michael Chaput and earn his second shutout of the season, stopping all 32 shots in the first 65 minutes then 3 more in the bonus round.  The game also marked the pro debut for Max Novak, who managed 2 shots on goal while playing on the third line.  The Devils second shootout win of the season had an effect on the Eastern Conference playoff picture, as it enabled Syracuse to be the third East team to get an X next to their name, even after melting down in a 6-4 loss to the Wolfpack.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Graham Black-Mike Sislo

Max Novak-Rod Pelley-Ben Johnson

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, Tim Sestito, David Wohlberg

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Mike Keenan

Extra: Joe Faust, Corbin McPherson

4/4 vs. Binghamton: 4-1 W

It was back to home ice to wrap up the week, as the Devils played host to the Senators on what has become an annual event, Military Appreciation Day.  Everyone was thinking a physical beginning was coming, when both Cam Janssen and Binghamton’s Darren Kramer (who leads the league in penalty minutes with 240) were lined up next to each other…and were seen talking…prior to puck drop.  But no Devils-Rangers triple feature type activities went down, and the game went on as normal.  Binghamton would grab a 1-0 lead with under 6 minutes to go in the first thanks to former Devil Brad Mills.  But Albany…well, really the top line…would take over in the second period and not look back.  Paul Thompson would reach the 30 goal mark with a power play goal midway through the second period to tie it up, then follow it up with an encore power play tally just 2:25 later for a 2-1 lead.  He would then complete the hat trick, his second in the last 8 days, with 5 minutes to go in regulation for a 2 goal cushion.  The goal also tied him with Chris Minard for the Lowell/Albany season record, set in 2006-07. Linemate Scott Timmins would put the cherry on top late with an empty netter to seal Albany’s second straight win and keep pace in the playoff race.  Scott Clemmensen had another strong day in net, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  Matt Lorito, who stepped into Joe Whitney’s spot on the top line after he was injured in Norfolk, had a career day assisting all 3 Thompson goals, while Timmins and Mike Sislo added helpers.

Highlights:

Lines:

Matt Lorito-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Mike Sislo-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Max Novak-Rod Pelley-Ben Johnson

Chris McKelvie-Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen

Extra: Joe Whitney, Kelly Zajac, David Wohlberg, Tim Sestito

Defense:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust, Mike Keenan

Conference Standings:

Where everyone stands after Saturday’s action:

8. Portland–81 points

9. Springfield–81

10. Albany–77

11. St. John’s–70 (eliminated)

The magic number to clinch is at 19, while the tragic number remains 9.  So yes, I’m saying there’s still a chance.

Pop Quiz: On Saturday, Paul Thompson reached the 30 goal mark (and then 31 and 32).  Who is the last Albany player to reach the 30 goal plateau for a season?  The answer is coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

So not much was going on Wednesday evening…then Cam and Josh Gratton happened.  Or as I call it, fights from 2005.

My Player of the Week:

This one was a very easy choice…have to give it to Matt Lorito.  He gets to play on the top line, and ends up producing…1 goal, 3 assists, and the shootout winner on Friday.  Not bad for someone who a month ago was still playing for Brown.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (32)

Assists: Joe Whitney (29)

Points: Paul Thompson (61)

+/-: Paul Thompson/Graham Black (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (130)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (12)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.37)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.914)

ECHL Update:

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

Eric Baier (Orlando): 52 GP, 9 G, 12 A, 21 Pts, +8, 20 PIM

Alexandre Carrier (Orlando): 14 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -1, 26 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 20 GP, 9-6-2-2, 3.01 GAA, .900 Save Pct.

Injury Update:

Joe Whitney and David Wohlberg missed the weekend due to injuries sustained on the Norfolk trip, no time table given for return.  Tim Sestito missed both Friday and Saturday, no reason given.

This Week’s Schedule:

One last 3 in 3 weekend looms, and it’s all away from the Capital Region.  Friday the Devils head west to Binghamton for a rematch with the Senators.  Saturday it’s due east to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack, then on Sunday the final visit for what could be awhile to Worcester to take on the Sharks.  Also this week, the annual STH party on Tuesday, including team awards.  I should have that annual post up by Wednesday.

Pop Quiz Answer:

Prior to Paul Thompson on Saturday, the last Albany player to reach 30 goals in a season was Jerome Samson, who potted 37 for the 2009-10 River Rats.

 

 

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