Oh, Opening Day. It’s a wonderful thing when the first game of hockey season that counts arrives. New players, new promise, and the hope that you can start off on the right foot on your quest for the playoffs and the Calder Cup. The Devils began their sixth season on Saturday evening with a new look lineup and hopes that they can build on their near playoff miss from last season. But it was in Binghamton…and whenever Albany goes into that building, everything seems to happen. And not in a good way.
With Scott Wedgewood out due to injury, Yann Danis drew the starting assignment in net. Also making their Devil debuts: Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, and Corey Tropp. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond made his first appearance back in an A-Devil uniform since April 10, 2011.
In the first, both teams would exchange power play goals. Colin Greening would put the home team up first just 16 seconds into the first penalty kill of the season halfway through the period. Joseph Blandisi would return the favor with his first professional tally on the back end of a 5 on 3 chance (well, 5 seconds after the 5 on 3 portion ended, anyway) to tie it up. Second period things appeared to be swinging in the Devils favor, with more offensive zone play and just 2 penalties called against (including the ever popular playing without a helmet penalty…Tropp missed the memo on that one), but nothing past Binghamton goaltender Chris Driedger. Eric O’Dell would break the tie late in the second period…and after that, the bottom would fall out for the visitors. The curse of the building, among other things, would take over in the third period, as Albany could only manage 5 shots on goal. David Dziurzynski and O’Dell would score 6:53 apart to put the game away for the hosts. And then there was the discipline, or should I say, lack thereof (it also didn’t help that the lone referee missed a few blatant calls)…31 penalty minutes total for the period, including losing both Seth Helgeson and Raman Hrabarenka late in the game due to a scrum in the corner. Danis played well in defeat, stopping 28 of 32 shots, while Gragnani had the lone assist.
Ryan Kujawinski-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson
Blake Coleman-Joseph Blandisi-Mike Sislo
Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Corey Tropp
Pierre-Luc Leblond-Blake Pietila-Max Novak
Marc-Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett
Raman Hrabarenka/Seth Helgeson
Corbin McPherson/Brandon Burlon
Yann Danis/Doug Carr
Out: Dan Kelly (unknown), Ben Thomson (healthy), Graham Black (inj), Matt Lorito (inj), Scott Wedgewood (inj), Vojtech Mozik (inj)
Power Play: 1 for 6. Penalty Kill: 3 for 4. Penalty Minutes: 37. Shots on Goal: 33. Shots Allowed: 32.
My Player of the Week:
My first choice for the season–drumroll please: Yann Danis. Despite the loss, he had a good first night in net filling in for Scott Wedgewood.
Goals: Joseph Blandisi (1)
Assists: Marc-Andre Gragnani (1)
Points: 2 players tied with 1
+/-: 9 players tied with 0
Penalty Minutes: Raman Hrabarenka (12)
GAA: Yann Danis (4.00)
Save Percentage: Yann Danis (.875)
Replacing Obligatory Fight of the Week, this space will be for digging into the Youtube archives and finding some past info on members of the roster. This week, here’s an interview with Joseph Blandisi from January 2014, just after he joined Barrie in the OHL:
Up North with the Thunder:
On Saturday, Ken Appleby was reassigned to Adirondack, and was immediately put to work, starting the Thunder’s preseason opener in Glens Falls, a 5-4 overtime loss to Manchester. He stopped 23 of 28 shots, while Alexandre Carrier scored in the first period. Joe Faust also saw action and finished with a +1. Adirondack will travel to Manchester Sunday afternoon to finish off the home and home series with the Monarchs, then the regular season begins on Friday evening in Elmira.
The Week Ahead:
The road swing to start the season continues to the northwest, as Albany travels to Toronto for the first time since the 2011-12 season for a two game weekend set. Both games on Saturday and Sunday are 3:00 afternoon starts. Also this week…Fanfest at the TU Center on Wednesday! There may be a few items tweeted from that, so stay tuned.