What an amazing ride this last month has been. But unfortunately, thanks to a unlucky bounce at the end, the playoff roller coaster has come to a stop.
After a wild week that saw the Marlies dominate the Devils on home ice, followed by a renaissance on Saturday, it was down to one game. One game to determine who would face Hershey in the Eastern Conference Finals, and who would go home for the summer. Jim O’Brien, out since Game 1, would return to the lineup, along with Mike Sislo, who had sat out Games 5 and 6. The home team would strike the first blow less than 3 minutes into the contest–on the Devils first power play opportunity, a turnover by Marc Andre Gragnani was picked up by Connor Brown, who would breakaway and score shorthanded on Scott Wedgewood for a 1-0 Marlies lead. Paul Thompson would answer just 46 seconds into the second period, scoring his second of the playoffs to tie the game up at 1. The tie game would carry over into the third, where Nick Lappin would strike yet again. His 5th postseason goal would give Albany a 2-1 edge 2:41 into the final period. Toronto would then respond with a nice goal by Kasperi Kapanen at 9:07 to re-tie the game. The momentum would temporarily switch over to Toronto, as a Connor Carrick goal with 7:01 remaining would give the Marlies a 3-2 lead. But Albany was not about to go away quietly…Thompson’s second goal of the night with 4:41 remaining tied things up at 3. Just as this classic Game 7 looked like it would need overtime to finally settle on a winner…a bounce off the boards behind Wedgewood’s net would end up on the stick of Richard Clune, who would send it into the corner of the net with exactly 2:30 remaining in regulation. The Devils would try to re-tie the game up late, pulling Wedgewood for an extra attacker and desperately trying to get the puck past Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau…but sadly time ran out, and the 2015-16 season officially came to an end, nine wins short of the ultimate goal. Wedgewood finished with 20 saves on 24 shots. Graham Black contributed two assists, while four others had one assist each.
Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Mike Sislo
Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Nick Lappin
Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Paul Thompson
Ryan Kujawinski-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie
Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik
Damon Severson/Reece Scarlett
Marc Andre Gragnani/Corbin McPherson
Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis
Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Brian O’Neill, Ben Thomson, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Pavel Zacha
Power Play: 0 for 2. Penalty Kill: 1 for 1. Penalty Minutes: 4. Shots on Goal: 28. Shots Allowed: 24.
Postseason Team Leaders:
Goals: Nick Lappin (5)
Assists: Damon Severson (8)
Points: Reid Boucher (10)
+/-: Jim O’Brien/Dan Kelly (+4)
Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (21)
Wins: Scott Wedgewood (6)
GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.72)
Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.897)
Around the Calder Cup Playoffs:
The final four has been set, with the Marlies and Bears getting started on Friday night in Hershey (due to the circus at the Giant Center next week, the Bears will host Games 1 and 2). Lake Erie and Ontario will start their series in California on Saturday night.
Well, now that we’re in offseason mode here…stay tuned next week for parts 2 and 3 of my season review. In between my baseball adventures (one month to go before Valleycats start up again), I will also be bringing back the Free Agent Tracker in July, and there will be updates on the NHL Draft in June and development camp in mid-summer, along with schedule updates and any other news items that may pop up.