Week 22 Recap: The Canadian Divide

We are hitting the homestretch of the schedule, as March is upon us.  And for the Devils, it was off to Canada to take on the Goliath of the league and a divisional rival as the second half of their season long six game road swing began.  What started out as looking like disaster would end on a good note, even though only two of six points were earned this week.

3/1 at Toronto: 4-0 L

The Canadian leg of the road trip began in Toronto, with an 11 AM start against the only team ahead of the Devils in the standings, the Marlies.  It didn’t take very long for the hosts to get things started…Frederik Gauthier and Tobias Lindberg scored within the first 4:15 of the contest for a 2-0 advantage.  Albany did manage to outshoot the Marlies 11-5 in the second, but with nothing to show for it thanks to the efforts of starting goaltender Antoine Bibeau.  Lindberg would add his second goal of the day midway through for a 3-0 lead.  The Marlies would put it away in the third as Mark Arcobello would score the first shorthanded goal against Albany all season.  The Devils had six power play chances but were unable to cash in, and wound up being shutout for just the third time all season, ending a number of streaks: their point streak (8), Mike Sislo’s individual point streak (10), and Yann Danis’s personal winning streak (8).  Danis would stop 19 of 23 Toronto shots.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill

Paul Thompson-Jim O’Brien-Ryan Kujawinski

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Max Novak

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Vojtech Mozik, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Joe Faust, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 0 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 23.

Highlights:

Tuesday: For his efforts in the month of February, Mike Sislo was named the AHL’s Player of the Month, the first Albany player to be honored with a monthly honor since Jerome Samson won the honor with the River Rats in March 2010.  Also announced by the AHL…Stefan Matteau was issued a 2 game suspension for an illegal check to the head in Sunday’s game, which will be served the next time he is on an AHL roster.

3/4 at St. John’s: 3-1 L

It was off to the north…way up north…to Newfoundland, as Albany kicked off a two game set against the IceCaps.  After an uneventful first period that saw Albany outshoot their hosts 8-4, the IceCaps took over in the second period.  In a span of 1:44, Charles Hudon (on a power play), Alexandre Ranger, and Brandon McNally would all score on Yann Danis for a 3-0 advantage.  Then things would take an ugly turn, as in an under 8 minute span a total of 114 combined penalty minutes were handed out.  It all started at the 9:50 mark when Ben Thomson would take on Josiah Didier, just a normal fight.  Seventeen seconds later, Jim O’Brien had a relatively clean hit along the boards…and it became every man for himself, as everyone except the goalies got involved.  As a result, Ryan Kujawinski’s evening was over early due to a secondary altercation, while Dan Kelly served a fighting major and Paul Thompson sat on a roughing call.  Once peace was restored, Matt Lorito took a tripping call 41 seconds after that.  Then with 2:33 to go in the period, Kelly hit Nikita Scherbak and took on Darren Dietz.  Then on the ensuing faceoff three seconds later, Thomson would take on the behemoth that is John Scott, and although Scott won the fight, his night was over early due to instigating and arguing with the referees.  Finally things would calm down in the third, as Blake Pietila stopped Eddie Pasquale’s shutout bid with a power play goal early in the third.  And the IceCaps would lock it down after that, giving the Devils their second straight loss and ruining a chance to gain some ground on Toronto, who were shut out by Utica.  Danis finished with 24 saves on 27 shots, while Max Novak and Reece Scarlett had the only helpers.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill

Paul Thompson-Jim O’Brien-Ryan Kujawinski

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Max Novak

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Scott Wedgewood, Blake Coleman, Brandon Burlon, Vojtech Mozik, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Joe Faust, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 45.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 27.

Highlights:

Saturday: Yann Danis was summoned to New Jersey for the second time this season after Cory Schneider was hurt in the Devils 4-2 loss to the Stars in Dallas on Friday evening.  A local goaltender named Doug Pippy was signed as an ATO to back up Ken Appleby for Saturday’s contest.

3/5 at St. John’s: 5-4 W (OT)

On to the rematch, where there were quite a few lineup changes: by default Ken Appleby was in net, while Brandon Burlon, Ben Johnson, and Pierre-Luc Leblond got in while Dan Kelly, Graham Black and Paul Thompson sat out.  But the IceCaps were first out of the gate once again…6 minutes into the game, Nikita Scherbak picked up a power play goal for a 1-0 lead.  Joel Hanley would double the lead  5:51 later.  Then, finally, the real Devils team would wake up and in a big way…in a span of 6:22, Mike Sislo (27th), Matt Lorito (13th), Rod Pelley (7th), and Blake Pietila (8th) would all score unanswered for a 4-2 Devil lead.  And the IceCaps could only manage one more shot in the period, as Albany would outshoot St. John’s 15-3.  Bud Holloway would start the rally for the hosts, scoring in the second to cut the lead to 4-3.  Brandon McNally would then tie the game at 4 early in the third.  It was on to overtime, where a late penalty call to Andrew Yogan would work in the Devils favor.  Just 12 seconds into the ensuing power play, a shot by Brian O’Neill would bounce off an IceCaps defender and into the net, clinching a much needed win for Albany as they head back to America.  After a shaky start, Appleby would stop 23 of 27 shots to pick up his second win.  Leblond, in his first appearance since February 14th (due to injury/vet rules), picked up two assists, while O’Neill and six other Devils had helpers in a balanced attack.  And also of note: only 16 penalty minutes combined after the shenanigans from the night before.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Brian O’Neill-Ryan Kujawinski

Max Novak-Jim O’Brien-Matt Lorito

Blake Pietila-Ben Johnson-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Ken Appleby/Doug Pippy

Out: Scott Wedgewood, Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Paul Thompson, Graham Black, Vojtech Mozik, Joe Faust

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 27.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

It’s a tie, between Blake Pietila (2 goals) and PL3 (2 assists in his first game in almost a month).

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (27)

Assists: Matt Lorito (32)

Points: Mike Sislo (52)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+22)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (96)

Wins: Yann Danis (25)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.67)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.932)

The Vault:

This week…we’re digging into the Lowell archives.  Going back to 2009 for this one…and you may recognize a few names in white.

Up North with the Thunder:

Not a bad week for Adirondack, as they went 2-1 on their Southern swing.  They split a two game set with Norfolk, dropping a 5-3 decision on Thursday evening before picking up a 4-3 overtime win on Friday.  They would need extra time on Saturday as well, defeating South Carolina 3-2.  Greg Wolfe picked up three assists on the week, while Alexandre Carrier finally returned to the lineup and was held scoreless.  The Thunder have a busy 4 game week, starting on Tuesday in Manchester against the Monarchs.  They then take on Elmira in a home and home series on Thursday (home) and Friday (away), then play Reading on Sunday at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, a “home” game for them.

This Week’s Schedule:

A dreaded three in three weekend looms, but the good news?  It’s all relatively local.  Friday the Devils finish their season long road swing in Binghamton to take on the Senators.  Then back on home ice Saturday and Sunday for potential playoff previews: Saturday they host potential first round opponent Utica, followed by a visit from Toronto on Sunday afternoon.

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