Week 17 Recap: Sliding into the Break

Good news this week: the Devils would receive reinforcements from New Jersey as the NHL started their All Star break.  Bad news: Only two would play.  And the month of January would end with a 3 out of 6 point week and a major injury as the AHL All Star break gets underway.

1/27 vs. Hershey: 3-2 W (OT)

Matt Lorito
Matt Lorito

The homestand continued on Wednesday, as the Bears made their only visit of the season to the Capital Region.  Among those in attendance: former Calder Cup winning Rat Bryan Helmer, now an assistant coach; former River Rat goalie Justin Peters, serving as backup to Dan Ellis (of escrow/#DanEllisProblems fame); and some guy named Gomez, I think he’s played in the NHL before?  Anyway…with Matt Lorito and Reid Boucher returning to the lineup, the Devils got off to a good start in the first period.  On the Devils first power play of the night, Mike Sislo would pick up his 17th goal (and league leading 12th power play goal) for a 1-0 lead.  Scott Wedgewood only had to face three Hershey shots…but on one of those shots he would dive and land on his right shoulder, shaking him up.  He would stay in after being checked out.  The Devils would continue to dominate in the shot department, outshooting the visitors 12-5 in the second, but on one of those 5 shots late in the period Erik Burgdoerfer would tie the game up (with an assist by that Gomez guy).  Midway through the third, Wedgewood would go down again on his right side, and this time he would have to leave the game, bringing Yann Danis in from the bullpen to finish things up.  The Bears would grab a lead late on a Riley Barber goal, and it looked like the Devils were on their way to a sixth straight loss, and the Bear domination would continue.  But not so fast.  With Danis pulled for an extra skater, Raman Hrabarenka would score his first of the season with just 1:16 to go in regulation to tie the game at 2.  It was on to overtime, where on the first shot taken by either side, Reid Boucher would knock it past Ellis for the winner, and a five game losing streak was over.  Danis picked up win #17 in relief, stopping 5 of 6 shots in about 10 minutes worth of work.  Wedgewood had stopped 12 of 13 before exiting.  Sislo and four other Devils each had assists.

Remember me?
Remember me?

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Jim O’Brien-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Ryan Kujawinski-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Paul Thompson, Chris McKelvie, Reece Scarlett, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 11.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

Thursday: It appears that Wedgewood will be out at least a month with a shoulder injury, so…Ken Appleby to the white courtesy phone, please.

1/29 vs. Utica: 4-3 L (OT)

Welcome aboard Ken Appleby!
Welcome aboard Ken Appleby!

The five game homestand came to a close on Friday, as the Comets came calling.  After killing off an early 5 on 3 (that really never should have been called in the first place, but that’s just me), Albany was on the board first thanks to a Reid Boucher power play goal, his 16th tally of the season.  The Comets would tie it early in the second with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Mike Zalewski (if the name sounds familiar…he is an RPI alum and the younger brother of Steve).  In the third, while killing off another questionable call, a shot from the corner from Jordan Subban found its way past Yann Danis to put Utica ahead 2-1.  But just as fast, Boucher would strike again with his second of the night to tie it up at 2.  Then again, just as fast, an all alone Andrey Pedan would put the Comets ahead 3-2.  Then for the second straight game, late heroics would come through again for the home team.  With 1:59 to go and Yann Danis ready to exit for the extra attacker, Brian O’Neill would score his 4th to tie it up at 3, sending the Devils to their second straight overtime.  But this time around wouldn’t end so well, as Zalewski would strip the puck from Marc Andre Gragnani and score the game winner just 46 seconds in to give the Comets their second straight all time win over the Devils, and in turn end a somewhat mediocre 1-2-2 homestand.  Danis would stop 25 of 29 shots.  Birthday boy Jim O’Brien had two assists while O’Neill and three others had helpers.

Vojtech Mozik
Vojtech Mozik

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ryan Kujawinski

Vojtech Mozik/Marc-Andre Gragnani

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Chris McKelvie, Reece Scarlett, Scott Wedgewood, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 25.  Shots Allowed: 29.

Highlights:

1/30 at Bridgeport: 4-1 L

It was off to southern Connecticut to finish out the weekend, as the Devils made their first visit of the season to Bridgeport.  Another first on this night–Ken Appleby drew his first AHL starting assignment.  And it would be a learning experience for the young netminder.  Mike Halmo would open the scoring for the hosts midway through the first.  Carter Verhaeghe would double the lead late in the period.  Halmo would strike again early in the second for a 3 goal deficit.  It would take till late in the third period for any signs of life from the offense…and even then it came from Dan Kelly.  He would complete 2/3rds of the Gordie Howe with his third goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-1.  But Halmo would finish off the hat trick with an empty netter to seal the victory for the Sound Tigers.  It wasn’t the greatest of debuts for Appleby, who got no support in stopping 18 of 21 shots.  Ben Thomson and Paul Thompson had the lone assists.  As for special teams?  Good: Perfect 4 for 4 on the kill.  Bad: 0 for 8 on the power play.  If it was the power play of, say, late November/early December, this game could have ended a lot differently.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Corey Tropp-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Ken Appleby/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Reid Boucher, Raman Hrabarenka, Scott Wedgewood, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 0 for 8.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 17.  Shots on Goal: 25.  Shots Allowed: 21.

Highlights:

At press time, no video was available anywhere.  Not that there was anything to see here…

My Player of the Week:

I had the winner pegged before Saturday’s game even got started.  Hope everyone enjoyed seeing Reid Boucher light it up Wednesday and Friday, because come next week you’ll likely only see him wearing the NJ on his chest the rest of the season.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Reid Boucher/Mike Sislo (17)

Assists: Matt Lorito (25)

Points: Matt Lorito (35)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+21)

Penalty Minutes: Ben Thomson (67)

Wins: Yann Danis (17)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.67)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.932)

The Vault:

Oh do I have a good one this week.  Since we have reached All Star weekend, let’s revisit the 2007 classic in Toronto.  You may know quite a few names.

Up North with the Thunder:

After a 3-2 OT loss in Manchester on Sunday, Adirondack returned home on Friday sans Ken Appleby and split a 2 game series with Reading.   On Friday the Thunder shut out the Royals 3-0, with Greg Wolfe scoring twice and Joe Faust contributing an assist.  Reading returned the favor on Saturday with a 3-2 win.  The Thunder return to action on Friday, as they start a two game home series against Norfolk.

This Week’s Schedule:

While Mike Sislo and Yann Danis are in Syracuse, everyone else gets a nice five day breather.  But it’s back to work with a pair of games starting on Friday night in Providence, then back home to face Hartford Saturday afternoon.

And guess who else will be in Syracuse…me!  Making my second consecutive trip to AHL All Stars, I will be on hand both nights, so stay tuned for photos and other fun stuff, with a full recap coming either Tuesday or Wednesday.

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