The Weekly Primer, Issue 27

Quick Hits:

-Albany begins the penultimate week of the season with a record of 42-18-8-2, 94 points, and a .671 percentage.  They remain in second place behind Toronto, who can clinch the division title with a win on Friday.  With third place Utica at a 93 point max, Albany can finish no lower than second in the division.

-Mike Sislo cleared waivers on Thursday, making him eligible to return to Albany once New Jersey’s season ends on Saturday.  Also on his way to help with the postseason run: 2015 1st round draft pick Pavel Zacha, after Sarnia was eliminated from the OHL playoffs earlier this week.

-Also on Thursday: Sislo was named to the AHL’s All Star Second Team.

-Injury updates: Nick Lappin has been cleared to return after sitting out the last three weeks.  Scott Wedgewood (face) is good to go after Sunday’s scare.  Dan Kelly and Chris McKelvie remain out.

Friday, 4/8 at Syracuse

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 4-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 31-27-10-3, 75 points, .528 pct, 4th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Tanner Richard, 51 points (10 G, 41 A); Jeff Tambellini, 45 points (26 G, 19 A); Tye McGinn, 44 points (20 G, 24 A); Kristers Gudlevskis, 15-11-6, 2.85 GAA; Adam Wilcox, 9-11-6, 3.30 GAA

Notes: After dropping 2 of 3 games last weekend before a 7-3 drubbing of Utica on Sunday, the Crunch are one regulation loss away from playoff elimination; they host Toronto on Saturday before ending the year with a 3 in 3 weekend; they have recently added Lightning draft picks Anthony Cirelli and Mitchell Stephens to amateur tryout deals; former Devil Matt Taormina and Jonathan Drouin were recalled by Tampa Bay on Thursday; for Albany/Syracuse area fans, Time Warner Cable Sports will be televising the contest (check your local listings!).

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch, @syrhockey

Saturday, 4/9 at Binghamton

Where: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, Binghamton, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 5-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 27-37-6-1, 61 points, .430 pct, 7th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Phil Varone, 50 points (18 G, 32 A); Jason Akeson, 48 points (13 G, 35 A); Casey Bailey, 33 points (9 G, 24 A); Chris Driedger, 16-14-4, 2.93 GAA; Matt O’Connor, 8-20-3, 3.43 GAA

Notes: With the overtime loss to Albany last Friday, Binghamton was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention; three out of their last five games are on the road; the Senators have dropped their last seven (0-5-2-0), including a loss in Utica on Wednesday night; they travel to Rochester on Friday before returning home; forward Buddy Robinson became the latest B-Sen to make his NHL debut in Ottawa.

Listen: AHL Live, US 96.9 FM

Tweet: @AlbanyDevils, @BSens_Hockey

Sunday, 4/10 vs. Toronto

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Toronto leads 3-2.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 50-15-5-0, 105 points, .750 pct, 1st place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Mark Arcobello, 55 points (23 G, 32 A); Colin Smith, 53 points (19 G, 34 A); Brendan Leipsic, 52 points (20 G, 32 A); Antoine Bibeau, 25-8-1, 2.81 GAA; Alex Stalock, 3-2-0, 2.38 GAA; Kasimir Kaskisuo, 1-0-0, 3.00 GAA

Notes: A win at home against Lake Erie on Friday will wrap up the division and conference titles for the Marlies, along with the best record overall in the league; Kasimir Kaskisuo became the 8th Marlies goaltender this season to pick up a win, doing so in his professional debut Friday against the Crunch; 4 of their last 6 games are on home ice; after hosting the Monsters on Friday they travel to Syracuse on Saturday; it’s Military Appreciation Day at the arena, as the Devils will wear special jersey to be auctioned off online after the game.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TorontoMarlies

Awards, Renewals, Etc.

I promised an awards post tonight, but before we get to that, quite a few things have happened since yesterday morning:

-The most important piece of news?  Three more years!  There were rumblings that a new agreement had been reached, but yesterday afternoon the news became official: New Jersey and the TU Center have agreed to a three year contract that will keep the Devils in the Capital District through the 2018-19 season.  You can watch the full press conference here.  With all the future renovations about to come to the arena, and the new convention center being built next door, this is going to be an interesting thing to see downtown.

-Later on Monday, another reinforcement arrived, as Seth Helgeson was sent down.  His last appearance here was back on March 5th in St. John’s.  In 19 games with New Jersey, Helgeson registered one assist and 17 penalty minutes.

-Also on Monday, Alex Carrier was released from his PTO and returned to Adirondack.

-Now, on to the awards!  To refresh everyone’s memory: every year the Booster Club has a set of member voted awards in five different categories: Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, Unsung Hero, Fan Favorite, and Most Electrifying Player.  And here are your winners:

Offensive Player of the Year (the player who has performed the most offensively): Mike Sislo (also my pick)

Defensive Player of the Year (who has performed the most defensively): Vojtech Mozik (also my pick)

Unsung Hero (hard worker but hardly ever receives recognition): Yann Danis (my pick: Vojtech Mozik)

Fan Favorite (your favorite player): Rod Pelley (my pick: Mike Sislo)

Most Electrifying Player (who gets the crowd excited?): Pierre-Luc Leblond (my pick: Scott Wedgewood)

Any other breaking news the next two days will be in the normal Friday pregamer time slot.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.