Week 26 Recap: No April Fooling this Playoff Team

First step of the journey is now complete.  After a 3-1 week that saw a few more franchise records broken, what’s left for the Devils to accomplish as the regular season winds down?

Tuesday: Not long after the pregamer went out, a second ATO signing was announced.  Kevin Rooney, a teammate of Trevor Mingoia at Providence, is another forward who just completed his senior campaign with the Friars.  He appeared in all 38 games, posting 6 goals and 4 assists.

3/29 vs. Hartford: 3-0 W

The week started with another rare Tuesday night matchup, as all the Devils needed was to get to overtime at the least against the Wolfpack and their playoff spot would be booked.  Turns out, they didn’t need the extra time to do so.  Max Novak would get things started less than 5 minutes into the game, picking up his third goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.  Brian O’Neill would pick up his 10th goal during the second to double the lead.  Then Paul Thompson would finish things off halfway through the third with his 13th goal for the 3-0 advantage.  That was all Yann Danis would need, as he stopped all 24 shots in picking up his seventh shutout of the season, third against Hartford.  It’s the second time in three seasons and third time in franchise history that a Devil team has punched a postseason ticket.  Reece Scarlett would add two assists, while Novak and Jim O’Brien had one helper each.  Also of note: it took just a hair over two hours to complete, as both teams combined for just 5 minor penalties, none in the third period.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Graham Black-Kevin Rooney-Trevor Mingoia

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Justin Crandall, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlights:

Wednesday: New Jersey is finally getting healthy as they near the end of the regular season.  With Cory Schneider ready to return to the crease, Scott Wedgewood was sent back to Albany after quite a successful 4 game debut stint.  He finished 2-1-1 with a 1.24 GAA and one shutout.

Thursday: With Wedgewood returning to the fold, Ken Appleby was reassigned to Adirondack.  Also, Justin Crandall was released from his PTO and returned to Reading.

4/1 at Binghamton: 2-1 W (OT)

The Devils kicked off the month of April with a trip west to Binghamton to take on the Senators, who were hanging on to the very last thread to stay in the playoff hunt.  Unfortunately for them, the latest team to get into the postseason was not going to help their cause.  Brian O’Neill would get things started early in the first, picking up his 11th goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.  But, it only took about 90 seconds and a power play for the Senators to tie things up, as a Max McCormick shot just got past Scott Wedgewood, who was making his first appearance in net since returning from New Jersey.  After that, he and Senators goaltender Chris Driedger would settle in for a goaltending duel that would extend to the end of regulation.  But just 22 seconds into overtime, as Driedger tried to clear the puck, Marc Andre Gragnani picked it up, passed it to Paul Thompson, who then passed it to Jim O’Brien, and he would score the game winner, his 18th goal of the season.  The win marked a franchise record for a season with 41, passing the playoff team of 2013-14.  Wedgewood turned aside 25 of 26 shots in his 10th win of the season.  Brandon Burlon would pick up an assist on O’Neill’s goal.

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Trevor Mingoia-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Alex Carrier

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Dan Kelly, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 26.

Highlights:

4/2 vs. Springfield: 5-4 L

A quick turnaround back on home ice Saturday afternoon, as the Devils played host to the Falcons.  And it was the visitors who got things started rather quickly, as a Tyler Gaudet goal just 2:27 into the contest gave Springfield a 1-0 advantage.  Then Ben Johnson would singlehandedly take over the next two periods, scoring the next three goals (two of them power play goals, breaking a 1 for 18 dry spell over their last 7 games) to give the Devils a 3-1 lead after two periods.  In the third…the wheels came completely off the wagon, as in a span of 13:40 the Falcons would put a 4 spot on Yann Danis…Michael Bunting (on a power play), Jordan Szwarz, Domenic Monardo, and Matia Marcantuoni would all score to put Springfield ahead 5-3.  Matt Lorito would try to start a late Devil rally with a power play goal, his 17th, with 2:32 to go, and despite a late Devil attack on the Falcons net, they could not get that tying goal in.  The loss marked the first time all season the Devils blew a second period lead (they were 19-0 coming into today).  Danis would stop 16 of 21 shots.  Paul Thompson and Marc Andre Gragnani each had two assists, while 4 others had one assist each.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Trevor Mingoia-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Ryan Kujawinski

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Dan Kelly, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 3 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 40.  Shots Allowed: 21.

Highlights:

4/3 vs. Binghamton: 3-0 W

One last home game to close out a busy week, as the Senators came calling for the second time in 3 days.  Scott Wedgewood and Chris Driedger picked up where they left off in their goaltending duel, with the Devils having a clear advantage in shots (18-5 in the first, 13-5 in the second).  It took until late in the second period for someone to finally get a goal…and it was off the stick of Paul Geiger, who picked up his first pro goal for a 1-0 Devil lead. Things were going along fine until a scary moment in the third…a puck hit Wedgewood right in the mask, opening up a cut on the right side of his face.  He left with the trainer to get stitched up, and Yann Danis stepped in.  Not long after that, another first goal of the season for a Devil…Marc Andre Gragnani finally broke a season long goalless drought to provide the hosts an insurance goal.  Graham Black would seal the win late with an empty netter, his sixth of the season.  With the win, two more franchise records were set: points in a season (94) and shutouts in one season (10).  Wedgewood picked up his 10th win, only stopping 15 shots before exiting, while Danis only had to face 4 shots.  Four Devils had assists, including the first pro point for Kevin Rooney.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Graham Black

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Trevor Mingoia, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 21.  Shots on Goal: 42. Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

2-0, only one goal given up in those two starts and having the scar to prove it?  A nice return to the lineup for Scott Wedgewood after returning from a whirlwind week in New Jersey.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Jim O’Brien (18)

Assists: Matt Lorito (35)

Points: Matt Lorito (52)

+/-: Matt Lorito (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (115)

Wins: Yann Danis (27)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.56)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.933)

The Vault:

In an effort to help everyone learn about the New Guys that have come in…a bonus two videos this week!  First I offer a highlight reel from last season for Kevin Rooney:

And I couldn’t leave out his college teammate Trevor Mingoia:

Up North with the Thunder:

A 2-1 weekend mark has Adirondack on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs, as the regular season winds down.  Friday night in a 5-1 win over Norfolk Greg Wolfe picked up a hat trick and Ken Appleby stopped 22 of 23 shots.  Appleby turned in another strong performance in a 3-1 win over Brampton on Saturday, stopping 27 of 28 shots, while Gunnar Hughes picked up one assist.  Brampton would return the favor on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win, Wolfe the only Thunder scorer.  Adirondack finishes off the regular season this week, hosting Elmira on Tuesday before a home and home series with Manchester on Friday and Saturday, their magic number to clinch a spot at 4.

This Week’s Schedule:

One last 3 in 3 weekend for the regular season, and it starts on the road.  Friday night the Devils head west on Interstate 90 to Syracuse to finish off their season series against the Crunch.  Then on Saturday, they head south on Interstate 81 for their second trip to Binghamton in 8 days.  Finally on Sunday, it’s back on home ice and a showdown with the first place Marlies.

Also this week: the annual end of season awards post.  I hope to have that up either Tuesday night after the STH party or during the day on Wednesday.

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