Week 2 in Review: History Will Be Rewritten

Is it beginners luck?  Maybe.

Is it a team coming together to do exactly what it’s supposed to do?  Yeah, could be that too.

But no matter what reasoning you come up with…the fact is that the Devils did not only remain undefeated after a weekend 3 in 3 sweep, they are off to the best start an Albany AHL team has ever seen.  And the only unbeaten team left standing in the entire American Hockey League.

10/21 vs. Binghamton: 3-2 W (SO)

First on the 3 in 3 schedule: a visit from the Senators, only playing their second game of the season after winning their home opener last Saturday evening.  Unlike the first two Albany games, it was the opponent drawing first blood, as a Ryan Rupert goal just 6:11 in would give Binghamton an early edge.  But the Devils would answer back fairly quickly, as Ben Sexton’s first of the season would tie things up just 2:33 later.  A shot from Seth Helgeson from the blue line would find its way into the net later in the period for a 2-1 Devil lead.  After a noneventful second period, Binghamton would tie the game midway through the third on an impossible top shelf goal off the stick of Curtis Lazar.  With no one able to jump ahead, it was on to the first overtime of the season, where the Senators had several chances to finish off their comeback outshooting Albany 3-0, but were unable to finish it off (a video review halfway through would ensure that).  On to the shootout, where Lazar would come through again in round 1, only to see John Quenneville tie it in round 3, sending things to sudden death.  Binghamton would be unable to connect in rounds 4 and 5, but Blake Pietila would be the hero in Albany’s half of the fifth round, scoring the game winner to keep the Devils undefeated.  Ken Appleby drew his first start of the season and played very well, stopping 26 of 28 shots in 65 minutes, then 4 of 5 in the shootout round.  Three different Devils would add assists, while Brian Gibbons and Josh Jacobs made their season debuts.

Lines:

Blake Pietila-Brian Gibbons-Joe Blandisi

Carter Camper-John Quenneville-Nick Lappin

Kevin Rooney-Blake Coleman-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Karl Stollery/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Mackenzie Blackwood, Ryan Kujawinski, Brandon Baddock, Jan Mandat, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 11.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 28.

Three Stars: 3. Curtis Lazar; 2. Ben Sexton; 1. Seth Helgeson.

Highlight Reel:

10/22 vs. Utica: 3-2 W

To finish off the three game homestand, Albany got a visit from the Comets, who were coming off their first win of the season in Syracuse the night before.  Reece Scarlett would put the Devils on the board late in the first period with a power play goal, his first of the season.  John Quenneville would follow that up early in the second with a power play goal as well, his third.  Then just as a major penalty to Joseph LaBate for checking to the head of Ben Thomson (he was OK) was about to expire, Utica cut the lead in half with a shorthanded goal from Michael Chaput.  Early in the third, Derek Hulak’s first goal of the season would bring the Comets and Devils even at 2.  But an unlikely hero would emerge for the home team halfway through the third…rookie Jan Mandat, making his professional debut, would score a beautiful goal to put Albany ahead.  Despite a last minute flurry in the Albany defensive zone, Utica could not re-tie, and Albany extended its best ever start for any AHL team to 4-0.  Another solid outing for Scott Wedgewood, as he picked up win #3 and stopped 18 of 20 shots.  Scarlett and Quenneville would add assists, while two others had helpers.

Lines:

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton

Blake Pietila-John Quenneville-Nick Lappin

Blake Coleman-Brian Gibbons-Joe Blandisi

Kevin Rooney-Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Karl Stollery/Brandon Gormley

Scott Wedgewood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Mackenzie Blackwood, Brandon Baddock, Carter Camper, Miles Wood, Josh Jacobs, Max Novak

Power Play: 2 for 7.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 14.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 20.

Three Stars: 3. Reece Scarlett; 2. John Quenneville; 1. Jan Mandat.

Highlight Reel:

Bonus Video!

10/23 @ Providence: 4-3 W (OT)

Albany would finish off the first 3 in 3 of the season with another trip east to Providence to take on the Bruins.  The game marked the AHL debuts of Miles Wood and Steve Santini, both sent down by New Jersey over the last two days, and Mackenzie Blackwood.  First period was all Devils, as they outshot Providence 17-6.  Brian Gibbons would pick up his first Albany goal 7:28 into the first period for a 1-0 advantage.  Then a misplay by Blackwood behind his net would lead to the Bruins tying the game up.  But less than a minute later, the hosts would return the favor, as a misplay by Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban behind his net would lead to Joe Blandisi’s first goal of the season to put the Devils back in front 2-1.  Much like the last visit to Rhode Island, the Bruins would suddenly find their shot in the second, peppering Blackwood with 18 of them.  One of those shots would re-tie the game at 2 early in the second, thanks to a power play goal by Austin Czarnik.  But, just like the last two days, Albany would take the lead back once again, as Blake Pietila’s third goal of the season would put the Devils up 3-2 after 40 minutes.  Third period was again all Bruins, as they got revenge from the first period with a 19-5 shot differential.  One of those shots would again tie the game up, as Tommy Cross would score with 7:42 remaining in regulation.  The Devils would find themselves going to overtime for the second time in three days, and once again, a different Devil would save the day.  Blake Coleman would score his first of the season just 1:53 into the extra session, wrapping up a fifth straight win and keeping Albany perfect on the season.  Blackwood was up to the challenge in his first professional start, stopping 42 of 45 Providence shots in just under 62 minutes in net to pick up the first of hopefully many wins.  Karl Stollery added two helpers, while Wood would pick up an assist in his Albany debut.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Nick Lappin

Miles Wood-Blake Coleman-Joe Blandisi

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton

Defense Pairings:

Karl Stollery/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Brandon Gormley/Steve Santini

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Brandon Baddock, Andrew MacWilliam, Jan Mandat, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Ken Appleby

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 14.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 45.

Three Stars: 3. Peter Cehlarik; 2. Austin Czarnik; 1. Blake Coleman.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has your highlights here.

My Player of the Week:

Again, no clear cut choices out of the weekend slate.  So I will salute the two rookies who made a splash in their debuts this weekend, Jan Mandat (game winner and awesome celebration to follow) and Mackenzie Blackwood (42 saves in your first start is quite the workload).

Team Leaders:

Goals: 2 tied with 3

Assists: 4 tied with 3

Points: 2 tied with 4

+/-: Karl Stollery (+5)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (26)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (3)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.67)

Save Percentage: Mackenzie Blackwood (.933)

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack had only one game this week: their home opener on Saturday evening, a 4-3 loss to Manchester.  Mathieu Brodeur picked up his first goal of the season on a power play, while Ty Loney and Brian Ward each had one assist.  Albany camp invitee Joe Pedenza scored twice for the Monarchs.  The Thunder start a three game series against Elmira this week, starting on Tuesday night at home, then a home and home Friday out west and Saturday in the North Country.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three more games this week, but they’re a little more spread out.  Wednesday, the Devils travel southwest to Wilkes-Barre Township for their only visit of the season to face the Penguins.  Then it’s a playoff rematch on Friday and Saturday at home to finish off October…for the first time since May, the Marlies will be in to visit.  Can the Devils make it to 8-0?  Toronto could be a serious challenge.

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